Wine Terrorists?

(Above: Not the best way to rack your wine. From Time: A commando vineyard owner empties one of 13 wine tanks filled with Chilean wine in Nimes, France. Photo Credit: Pascal Parrot / Getty)

Perhaps adding some real bite to the enoterm terroirist, there’s an article at Time Magazine about the recent explosion of a homemade bomb at a small winery in Limoux (click here for my earlier post on this subject). Local vigneron and amateur explosives enthusiast Jérôme Soulère was apprehended by authorities after the accidental detonation of one of his devices at his winery. Soulère was at the hospital when nabbed by police; as it turns out, he’s a member of the comité régional d’action viticole, aka CRAV, a group of militant winemakers active in southern France that was formed, as the group claims, to protest against the consequences of a globalized wine industry.

I’m not one to condone violence, and frankly these guys seem pretty loony to me. But they have a point, or more relevantly, they believe they’ve got a point and they’re willing to go to extremes to get people to listen. Still, something doesn’t sit right with using the tag ‘terrorist’ here…

Anyway, that’s open to debate.

From the article:

CRAV’s commando operations began with the 2005 bombing of a state agricultural building. CRAV members, or independent sympathizers, have repeatedly carried out bombings or acts of vandalism since, including three acts of property destruction in a 10 day span in May this year alone. In mid-July, CRAV logos were discovered spray-painted at a Narbonne agriculture collective whose vandalized vats had drained nearly 132,000 gallons of wine on the ground — an estimated loss of around $450,000. Last year, it sent a video to newly-elected President Nicolas Sarkozy demanding assistance to the region’s grape growers, or “blood will flow”.

Quixotic as it may seem to outsiders, the group — and many Langeudoc-Rousillon growers who support its aims while condemning the violence used to achieve them — want the French government to protect them from a rapidly globalizing market. Foreign wine from cheaper producers such as Italy, Spain, Australia, the US, and South America — where costs can be one-fifth of those in France — has saturated the market, and driven down demand for locally-grown grapes. That has depressed the price Langeudoc-Rousillon growers get for their crops by up to 50% in recent years.

(Link to the original article at Time)

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3 thoughts on “Wine Terrorists?

  1. Is this an Aime Guibert fronted group? (joking…) All kidding aside, while I am certainly sympathetic to what these guys are dealing with making wines in a very challenging global marketplace, in a most difficult time for Languedoc-Roussillon, why would they not focus their energies on making the best, most distinctive wine, from indigenous grapes, they can possibly produce. Then go after some loyal customers in all of France’s terrific restaurants/wine bars and perhaps, simpatico importers in the US and other markets.

    Who knows, maybe many of these folks have already taken these steps with minimal results. It just strikes me as ‘sour grapes,’ if you’ll excuse the pun, when there is a real opportunity to do the right thing, both from a business and philosophical perspective.

  2. Hey Joe,

    I agree…you don’t see similar movements (at least that get coverage) in other places as ‘endangered’ as Languedoc-Roussillon. Parts of southern Italy come to mind; so I wonder if this is a particularly French response? One thing’s for sure though: protectionism won’t do Languedoc-Roussillon any good (or anyplace else for that matter).

    Thanks for the comment!

    – wolfgang

  3. It amazing how the theme of border-crossing capitalism and splintering factionalism continues to present itself in all facets of global society. Can’t we all just break bread, have a glass of wine and get along?

    While I understand their plight, I can’t get on board with their actions…..but a very interesting article that I would have missed — so thanks for the post.

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