SPANISH wine regions are increasingly opting for higher-quality produce in an effort to combat the problem of dwindling harvests.

The quality over quantity approach has been adopted in Madrid after the region lost 2,300 hectares of vines in the past decade.

Grape harvests and wine production are down by a quarter, with the area’s 46 wineries now producing around 3.5 million bottles, about a million fewer than five years ago.

But according to the Vinos de Madrid Denominacion de Origen, the government benchmark that guarantees the origin and quality of Spanish wines, the downward trend is no bad thing.

“We don’t really know what the fall is attributable to,” says Vinos de Madrid technical director Mario Barrera.

“But turnover is continuing to increase, so perhaps it is related to the quality.”

According to experts, Madrid appears to have a very bright future as the profile of the region’s  wines continues to grow.

“It has been a trend in Spain for the last 10 or 20 years, and the beginning for Madrid came around five years ago,” said Cristina Alcala, editor of wine magazine Mivino-Vinum.

“I think the key is a few leading wineries with small, but very high-quality production, which works to drive the industry.”

She adds: “If you recommended a Madrid wine 14 years ago, people would be surprised, even here. Now at last that mentality is changing.”