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CIVB agrees payment package for grubbing up unproductive vines

The Conseil interprofessionnel du vin de bordeaux (CIVB) has confirmed that a deal has been struck with the French government to compensate growers for the grubbing up thousands of hectares of unproductive vineyards. 

Early morning sunrise over a Bordeaux vineyard with lots of fog.

The deal, which was announced at the Salon d’Agriculture show in Paris last week will reduce the area under vines in the Gironde department by around 10%, thereby reducing oversupply of wines in the market, as well as tackling the spread of vine disease flavescence dorée, according to Stéphane Héraud, president of the General Association for Viticulture (AGPV).

Previously, growers were not allowed compensation for grubbing up vines, allowing their land to go fallow or converting to other uses, but in the last few years they have called on the EU and French government to fund this, garnering the support of the new head of the CIVB Allan Sichel, and holding a number of strikes to highlight the pressures facing them.

According to French-language site, Vitisphere, an initial tranche of €57 million will be released to finance aid for the ‘sanitary’  grubbing-up of vines, comprising €38 million euros from the French government and €19 million from the CIVB, subject to formal approval from the CIVB’s board of directors.

This amounts to around €6,000 per hectare for the 9,500 ha of vines in question – which the CIVB’s vice-president Bernard Farges called “a first step”, although he added that the these initial figures would “probably be insufficient”.

The collective of Girondin winegrowers is asking for around €10,000 per hectare, and Vitisphere reported there is hope that European Conversion Funds could potentially top this sum up to nearly €10,000 per ha through a pot aimed at [vine] health and retraining.

The CIVB are hoping that a further 2,000 hectares of uncultivated vines can be reforested as part of a partnership with the forestry cooperative Alliance Forêt Bois.

In a press release, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region announced that it “will mobilize €10 million  over the coming years to support at least 300 winegrowers in their projects, with an average aid of 25 to 35,000 euros per farm”.

Allan Sichel, the president of the CIVB, pointed out the need to support export investments in the face of falling consumption of red wines in France, commenting that “we must turn the page to show our dynamism and our spirit of conquest” .

“We have to project ourselves and anticipate future market developments. We must reposition the image of Bordeaux wines on the human, the approachable and the artisanal,” he said, pointing out that the “core range” was sold at €8-€15  a bottle.

Last month the French government announced a €160 million fund to help vignerons deal with oversupply of wine and has approved in principal the uprooting of vines, with 40 million from the French government  this summer being matched by funding from the European agricultural guarantee fund (EAGF) funding (EAGF). The initial tranche of funding is to launch a distillation campaign to turn excess unsold wine into bioethanol or perfume, with a second distillation campaign potentially running from October. 

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