Alejandro Fernández, founder of Bodegas Pesquera and the man who revolutionized Ribera del Duero wines, died on May 22 at the age of 88 without having reconciled with three of his four daughters, Olga, Mari Cruz and Lucía, or with his ex-wife , Esperanza Rivera, 86 years old. Since 2015 and more intensely since 2017, the disagreements between these three daughters and the little sister, Eva, together with the separation of the parents after decades of marriage, led to a family conflict that ended up being publicly portrayed with two different sides and a father arguing against three of his descendants. The version that the winemaker gave EL PAÍS in April 2019 was that his three daughters had withdrawn him from all the governing bodies of the companies he had created and that for this reason he was claiming his share in the courts, which consisted of 49, 72% of the Bodega Tinto Pesquera company that began to create in 1975.
After his death, a leak of the will came first and then its official opening. In it, Alejandro Fernández disinherited Olga, Mari Cruz, and Lucía, even one third of the legitimate force except for just cause, and left Eva as the sole and universal heir, the only one of the four daughters who stood by his side. It also established that the granddaughters who belong to the three branches of the disinherited be legatee of the strict legitimate that would have corresponded to their parents. He spoke of the pain and astonishment that this process caused him, but the other party, erected in the majority to run the family’s businesses, decided to continue restructuring the conglomerate, improving the quality of the wines and limiting the confrontation against his father and his sister to the courts, without ruling on the merits thereof.
The impact that the details of the will have been made publicly known and the uncertainty it has generated in the 120 employees and in the network of more than 300 distributors of Pesquera wines forces them to present their position regarding the provisions of his father has already reaffirmed himself in the statements that they sent to clients and friends through a statement on June 23 of this year: “The continuity of the current management team, as well as of the different projects that we have been developing, are guaranteed. Despite the deep sadness that we are going through, business, commercial and any other policies will follow the course of the normal activities of our company. (…) We want to clarify that the only Tinto Pesquera of which we can guarantee traceability is the one made in the facilities, vineyards, facilities of our business group, and by the technical team of the Fernández Rivera family group ”.
Regarding the will, a reliable source close to this part of the family affirms that, in his opinion, “it is null.” An assertion that will have to be decided by judicial means, but that the three sisters base on the fact that the children cannot be disinherited without reason (the father alleged abuse to do so, one of the legal causes of disinheritance) and, above all, that their Parents were legally separated but did not make the partition partition notebook, so they consider that they cannot bequeath what they do not officially know belongs to them.
At this point, the source that provides the response to the paternal will indicates that at the bottom of the conflict there is a “macho attitude of Alejandro Fernández towards his wife and daughters.” According to this account, the father, whom the disinherited daughters claim to adore, was “a man of his time, from the countryside of Castile, who thought that everything was his” despite the fact that his wife, with whom he was married in regime of acquisitions, he was in charge of the business management from the beginning: from labeling bottles by hand when they started to directing the operation of the winery, the commercial part or the necessary organizational decisions in the field. The daughters have also participated since their adolescence in the tasks of the winery: “There were no holidays there until the pruning was done in green and that included their daughters”, details a person who knows this part of history. Meanwhile, Alejandro Fernández made the wine and also covered that playful side of public relations that in the eighties and nineties made him a well-known figure who was frequently seen portrayed alongside famous artists and politicians.
According to legal experts, a lawsuit of this type can last 10 or more years. To which should be added those of a possible challenge once the partition notebook of the separation of the marriage is established and the inheritance of the father is executed. Times and lawsuits to which the mother’s inheritance can be added if she dies during the process, taking into account her advanced age. In short, litigation that can last several decades if they do not reach an agreement, but also a time in which the party that now runs the company, the mother and the three daughters who faced the father, will be able to continue with their expansion projects and improvement of the brand, since they account for the majority of the business shares.
Regarding the personal aspect that is in the background of this confrontation, people who know the feelings of the three disinherited sisters assure that “they never prevented their father from entering the wineries.” “Eva, the little daughter and winemaker at that time, was fired for malpractice in winemaking,” say those same sources, “and since then she has influenced Alejandro, who she took to live with her and was told that his other daughters wanted to take the business away from him. She was prohibited from entering and, as Alejandro did not appear again at the shareholders’ meeting for two years, they were forced to dismiss him as president and appoint Esperanza, the mother, “they say.
This newspaper has tried to contact Eva Fernández by email and has not received a response. The call Falcon Crest Ribera del Duero seems to be a long-term conflict and, for now, the fate of the 150 million in which the family assets were valued – which in addition to the wine society includes real estate, olive trees, livestock and photovoltaic investments, among others – will continue to be settled in the courts unless an agreement is reached similar to the one that the parties were about to sign in November 2020. An increasingly complicated family history that, to reassure the future of the wines that Alejandro Fernández loved so much , seems to run in parallel with the work of the company, which continues to focus on improving its processes and facilities and continuing to draw new references, according to their communication agency.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.