Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Tuesday, October 13, 1998 Published at 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK


Business: The Economy

A fillip for French wine?

Higher quality wines should be readily available at much lower cost

The BBC's Jonathan Charles reports from Montpelier in Southwest France on how the European Commission is helping the wine industry to modernise.


Watch Jonathan Charles report on how French winegrowers want to fight back
For more than 2000 years, the coastal vineyards of South Western France have exported wine - but now producers around Montpelier are facing tough competition from the rest of the world.

The Abbaye de Valmagne vineyard is suffering - Philippe D'allaines sells 10% of his wine to British supermarkets, but customers are increasingly choosy about what they buy. Bit by bit, Australian and American rivals are eroding the Abbaye's traditional business.


[ image:  ]
He says: "I think the Australians have been improving very much the wine and also they are very very good in terms of marketing and advertising - I suppose they are better than the French for that."

More help on the way

French winegrowers are trying to fight back, and now there may be extra help from the European Commission.

More subsidies are being proposed to improve the continent's wine. Money would be spent on planting new vines to replace those currently producing poor quality grapes.

More than 60% of the world's wine comes from Europe, but as consumer tastes have changed, producers here have been slow to adapt, in future quality will be the key to success not quantity.


[ image: Vines currently producing poor quality grapes would be replaced]
Vines currently producing poor quality grapes would be replaced
Testing the latest vintage, members of the local growers association admit they have plenty of work to do.

Wines from outside Europe often have a fresher flavour, appealing to a wider variety of drinkers.

The French industry knows it must modernise if it's to thrive. Mireille Rambier of the Wine Producers Associations says: "We want to have new markets and this is a good idea because the wine is something that we need, it is in the French culture, we have to let it be known around the world.

Unfair competition?

But not everyone is entirely happy with the European Commission's initiative. The Domaine de la Baume vineyard is owned by Australia's second largest wine producer.

Bill Hardy, invested here in France in the early 1990's, but most of his family estates remain in Australia.

He worries that extra subsidies would put Australian and other non-European vineyards at a disadvantage, making it difficult to compete.


[ image: Consumer tastes have changed]
Consumer tastes have changed
He says: "If I was back home I'd be screaming as loud as the next man, because it does seem like unfair competition to us to have the industry subsidised, when in fact the world is trying to break down subsidies and differential trade barriers."

European consumers certainly won't be complaining though, as eventually, higher quality wines should be readily available at much lower cost.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


The Economy Contents


Relevant Stories

17 Jun 98 | The Economy
Pouring money into wine





In this section

Inquiry into energy provider loyalty

Brown considers IMF job

Chinese imports boost US trade gap

No longer Liffe as we know it

The growing threat of internet fraud

House passes US budget

Online share dealing triples

Rate fears as sales soar

Brown's bulging war-chest

Oil reaches nine-year high

UK unemployment falls again

Trade talks deadlocked

US inflation still subdued

Insolvent firms to get breathing space

Bank considered bigger rate rise

UK pay rising 'too fast'

Utilities face tough regulation

CBI's new chief named

US stocks hit highs after rate rise

US Fed raises rates

UK inflation creeps up

Row over the national shopping basket

Military airspace to be cut

TUC warns against following US

World growth accelerates

Union merger put in doubt

Japan's tentative economic recovery

EU fraud costs millions

CBI choice 'could wreck industrial relations'

WTO hails China deal

US business eyes Chinese market

Red tape task force

Websites and widgets

Guru predicts web surge

Malaysia's economy: The Sinatra Principle

Shell secures Iranian oil deal

Irish boom draws the Welsh

China deal to boost economy

US dream scenario continues

Japan's billion dollar spending spree