Insurgent Wine Producers Bomb France
Terrorist attacks by radical wine producers on government offices in the south of France yesterday served notice that the country’s wine crisis may be spinning out of control.
Sticks of dynamite were thrown at agriculture ministry offices in Montpellier and Carcassonne in the early hours, causing serious damage but no injuries. A car was also burned outside ministry offices in NÃƒ®mes.
The attacks, which were condemned by mainstream wine producers’ associations, were claimed by a group called comitÃƒ© rÃƒ©gional d’action viticole (Crav).
The same group was responsible for incendiary attacks on supermarkets and explosions outside the offices of wine traders in the Languedoc- Roussillon area last month.
Apart from an increase in the 70m in special aid and 3m in export subsidies already promised, the wine growers are demanding more government cash and permission from the European Commission for the subsidised distillation of 2,500,000 hectolitres of red wine to reduce the French “wine lake”, which is depressing wholesale wine prices. This is equivalent to removing 333 million bottles of wine from the market by turning them into industrial alcohol.
Brussels has promised to give a reply once similar requests have been received from Italy and Greece, which have surpluses of their own. In 2004, French wine exports fell 10 per cent in value – the sixth successive year of decline. Production of wine in terms of volume increased by 23 per cent.
I presume the French are asking themselves where they went wrong to make wine producers hate them so.