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Priorat bids for world heritage site but a shortage of grapes mean demand cannot be satisfied.

Catalan wine producers in Spain, with approval of the government of Catalonia, are pressing ahead with a bid to have Priorat recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The campaign aims to protect a landscape that has generated an economy based on wine and olive oil production and wine tourism.

Priorat is home to deep-rooted vines grown on the unusual slate soil near Tarragona and the wine producers want the region to be listed as a ‘mountainous, Mediterranean agricultural and cultural landscape’.

Rachel Ritchie, of Priorat wine council’s Espai Priorat event, said World Heritage status would help protect Priorat’s non-terraced hillside vineyards, known as ‘costers’. She says 'The introduction of terraces in Priorat has not worked as well as ‘costers’, so World Heritage status would protect traditional winemaking techniques.'

In 2001 the Alto Douro wine region in Portugal became a World Heritage Site and more recently, St Emilion in Bordeaux and Barolo vineyards in Piedmont have made the list.

The Priorat area is home to the Priorat and Montsant DO wine regions and an olive oil DO. The region is currently facing a shortage of grapes due to increasing demand, which is putting pressure on the price of grapes. Wines from Priorat are already amongst some of the most expensive from Spain and if they get World Heritage status prices could rise further.