January 29, 2006

Wine Wars

A war is brewing in France. Alder at the Vinography: a wine blog writes:

Bordeaux vs. Languedoc: The Knives Come Out
Every piece of news about wine coming out of France these days seems laden with misfortune. I shake my head — partially in sincere pity, partially with the amazement of someone watching a self-induced nervous breakdown. The French just can't seem to get a lucky break, and now it seems they may even be headed for a sort of civil war of vinous proportions.

Before we get to that however, let's review the situation, shall we?

The short story is this — there's far too much wine in France — too many barrels filled with stuff that people won't drink (and therefore can't be sold) and too many vineyards growing grapes, that then get turned into that excess wine. Tied up in both those vineyards and the wine are many people's livelihoods, and suffice it to say, those folks ain't doing so well these days. Which is why they are firebombing wineries, dumping truckloads of manure here and there, and bricking up the entrances to important wine related organizations. What they hope to accomplish with these efforts, I don't know. But a lot of people have gone from winegrower to terrorist in the last year or so.

Of course oversupply is only the beginning of a long list of problems that the French wine industry faces, from an outdated appellation system, to a shrinking number of wine drinkers in the country, to insanely archaic laws about how wine can be marketed, the wine industry, especially the lower ends of the market, are up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle.

The government is taking, or attempting to take various measures to alleviate the situation, including distilling some of the excess wine into industrial grade alcohol and even car fuel, and they are also taking a page from the United States playbook of subsidized agriculture and paying / forcing winegrowers to rip out vineyards to stem the tide of unwanted wine.

And the government is stepping in. Sheesh — we can just write that industry off than can't we…

How about this — cut back on the volume production and focus on your core competency, the really fine high-end wines. That is where the profit is to be made.

Posted by DaveH at January 29, 2006 03:31 PM | TrackBack
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