Over the last two years, the French government has very publicly acknowledged the challenges its wine industry is facing – first by funding the uprooting thousands of hectares of vines in Bordeaux and, this year, by finding the cash to cover the distillation of €200m of surplus wine.
But, as Vitisphere reports, leading members of the industry believe that the first of these measures is merely a first step, while the second is a sticking plaster. Jérôme Bauer, president of the national organisation of AOC wine and spirit producers – CNAOC – bluntly told the magazine that France is making too much wine. “I can't see myself knocking on the minister's door to ask for distillation again in 2024! All the industry representatives have said this time and time again. We now need to summon up the courage to say that we need to grub up vines in France.”
The reduction in authorised yields and setting aside of reserve stock, envisaged for 2023, is not, Bauer says, the answer. “To reduce yields by 10%” he points out, “increases production costs.”
After Bordeaux, the south of France and the Rhône may be the next areas to look at reducing their acreage of vines. “The more talk there is of uprooting, the more other vineyard regions seem to be interested.”
While laying the responsibility for the problem on the reduction in French domestic AOC wine consumption, Bauer acknowledges that the broader solution will have to come from Brussels as part of a process of restructuring European viticulture. “The Italians and Spanish might be interested” he says.