El Gaitero Factory
La Espuncia, Villaviciosa
The industrial production of cider is one of the agricultural products that, through the apple, made possible the gradual entry of the Asturian countryside into a capitalist market. Therefore, it entered into a monetary economy, favoured by the reforms of the incipient liberal system.
Moreover, the growth of the cities housing regional industries by the end of the 19th century encouraged the production of different products that their inhabitants could no longer obtain by their own means in rural areas. Some of them, such as cider, were increasingly consumed in the new urban and social context. Finally, the reopening of the migratory flow overseas, where colonies of Asturians settled in different American countries, complemented the growing demand for Asturian products, including cider.
To cater for this consumption, several cider presses and factories were set up in the period up to the end of the century. El Gaitero, in Villaviciosa, stood out among them, soon specialising in sparkling cider for the American market, and now being one of the largest producers in the world.
The company Valle, Ballina y Fernández, founded in 1890 and transformed into a public limited company by the end of the century, built its factory on a land reclaimed from the estuary - similar to the Dutch polders - where it keeps its production today. With a good location on the national road that runs along the Asturian coast and with the possibility of selling its production by means of its own seaport, the factory gradually gained importance. From 1915 onwards, the company produced its own bottles, being the iconic chimney in its plant the testimony of this activity. The complex is completed by the reception, treatment and storage warehouses, as well as by the office building. This one dates back from 1900 and soon became the most public place of the company, built with a detailed treatment alternating plastered masonry with ashlar in the corners and fair-faced brickwork in the window surroundings.
The heritage of the brand El Gaitero is excellent and well cared for. As its well-known slogan said, this cider was famous in the whole world.
Faustino Suárez Antuña