French vignerons destroy Spanish wine in protest against cheap imports
French winegrowers smashed hundreds of crates of Cava and dumped thousands of gallons of Spanish rosé to protest cheap imports impacting domestic wine sales.
Vignerons protesting in the border town of Boulou intercepted lorries carrying Spanish wine into France, smashing 10,000 bottles of Cava and spilling a whole lorry load of rosé imported in bulk onto the road.
Around 500 French winegrowers were involved in the protest, which took place on Thursday 19 October.
Winemakers in France have poured thousands of liters of Spanish wine on the road in protest.
French winemakers are unhappy with government support for cheap alcoholic beverages from abroad.
Yesterday morning, 300-400 winemakers from several regions in southern France… pic.twitter.com/TT1m6x3s8I
— Slava (@Heroiam_Slava) October 20, 2023
Low prices of foreign wine have caused problems for local vignerons, who are struggling to sell their own products, taking to the streets to demonstrate against what they claim is unfair competition.
Frédéric Rouanet, chairman of the Aude Vignerons Association, who spearheaded the protest, warned French officials of the protest on Tuesday, as wine growers gathered in Ferrals-des-Corbières to discuss what they described as the worst wine crisis in 20 years.
“If you want peace, prepare for war,” he said during the meeting.
“Let it be known in Paris,” he continued, “that the situation in southern France is getting a bit worse every day and that us honest workers have decided to revolt.”
“Let Paris know that the government bears a heavy responsibility for the drop in wine consumption and that they must compensate us accordingly.”
French winemakers have staged a protest against cheap imports from #Spain after intercepting two trucks at Le Boulou tollbooth near the Spanish-French border and destroyed thousands of liters of wine shipments by smashing bottles and pouring red wine onto the road. pic.twitter.com/D3u3lbL5Nk
— (@NoiseAlerts) October 19, 2023
A letter to be sent to French wine merchants and other buyers called for “a total halt in buying wine from other regions or abroad until the wines of our département are sold at a fair price, namely those of 2020 taking into account inflation of the past few years”.
Rouanet has urged the French government to provide a €2 million financial rescue package for Aude growers, companies and co-operatives in difficulty.
The Aude Vignerons Association chairman has since called the protest the “start of an economic war that we are going to wage”, according to The Telegraph.
“It is out of the question to accept the situation as it is,” said Frédéric Rouanet, the wine growers’ union president for those based in the Aude region. “Starting from today, we are going to remove the possibility of buyers being able to get cheap wines from elsewhere … we are going to stop Spanish imports.”
The action has received the support of Alain Ginies, the vice-president of Aude’s council, despite its illegality. He said: “We have always been close to our wine growers, and we still are today. Our two economic strengths at the departmental level are tourism and viticulture. ”
The Spanish Government has condemned these acts by French winegrowers of destruction of shipments of tomato, still wine and Cava from Spain and highlights that this blockade threatens the free circulation of goods within the European Union.
However, last week’s events are unlikely to be the last of the conflict, as Rouanet has called for another protest on 25 November.