For exactly 40 years, José C. Garcia de Castro and his team have been selling typical products from Spain at La Rioja. The former wine shop is no longer just bristling with its bright yellow and red colours, but also with an assortment that is worth seeing.
"It's funny: although the province is known for its wines, at that time you couldn't find any bottles from La Rioja in Luxembourg." With a proud smile, José C. Garcia de Castro points to the back of his shop, which is mainly dedicated to La Rioja's flagship product – Spanish wine. In the northern part of the country, between the Spanish Basque Country and the region of Castilla y León, is the province that gave its name to the small corner shop on the Avenue Guillaume near the city centre.
José has been selling drinks and delicacies from his homeland since 1982 here in Luxembourg. In the beginning, it was his brother who took the path of becoming a merchant. "I was still at university in Madrid at the time to finish my studies as a public prosecutor", José recalls. Several times a year, the Spaniard visited his brother abroad and helped on the stalls at markets and fairs. At Christmas 1978, the latter had the idea of setting up a small table with Spanish wines for tasting, thus laying the first stone for the future import of goods.
The golden mean
"For many people from Luxembourg, Spain was the main destination for travel at that time, so many already knew the products that were typical in our country, which was of course a great advantage for us", says José. Barely three years later in September, he and his brother opened a small shop on 14 square metres, which José took over completely five years later, after his brother returned home. "Before that I had worked at a law firm in Madrid, but there I was the last of twelve partners, so my professional opportunities were rather limited. Here I got the opportunity to work as a self-employed person and I got to see a completely new world of delicacies and food."
These were not added to La Rioja's range until 1988, when it started out as a wholesaler for restaurants and supermarkets. With the arrival of Spanish cheese, ham and olive oil, not only did the range grow, but so did the shop – you can now find the team's office where wines were once traded. "We currently have eleven employees, but we still follow the same philosophy, which is to offer the best possible value for money for our customers", José explains. La Rioja sells neither the very best and most expensive wines, nor the cheapest and poorest quality wines – just everything in between, because the international clientele in Luxembourg prefers a balanced average.
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