Arrogance and French Whine

“The government has promised more
money, but this will not solve the problems in the long-term. There
must be more protection for French wine producers on the domestic

"Wine is not the same as other
commercial products like milk for example, wine changes from vineyard
to vineyard, it reflects the field and the vine and the individual
producer. It is not like that for some of these Australian firms,”

And so, the French winemakers in the South riot.

There is a lot of blame fermenting within the French wine industry. Some of it is focused on foreign competition. Some of the blame is aimed at the producers of Bordeaux who have been planting while those in the south of France have been removing vines. Some of the blame is focused on the government, which the rioting growers believe is simply not giving growers enough support (read: free Euros)

It is impossible to understand the rioting winemakers of France by looking at them through an American lens. Do this and you must come to the conclusion that "the whiners aren’t willing to compete and just want government handouts".

The French long ago chose the welfare state as their way of organizing societal needs. This extends to industry. So to hear the French cry out for more state aid to overcome their own stupid business decisions and the fact that other country’s have caught up in quality and market share is really just par for for the French course.

However, what de Gaulles me is this notion expressed by so many french vintners and Frenchmen that while the french have some inner, cultural, spiritual connection to the vineyards and the wine they produce, those from other countries, like Australia and the United States, are incapable of such connection and therefore illegitimate.

Look at that quote at the top. How patronizing can you get? Yet, it’s this very argument that the French vintners slime the media and government with in their demand that there be protection for the French domestic wine market.

By the way, what does that mean? What would "more protection for French wine producers on the domestic
actually look like? Tariffs? I say more power to them. Go ahead and protect the antiquated, anti-consumer sloth-inspiring industry the rioting whiners feel needs protecting. In the mean time the rest of the world will continue to make better and better wine, find ways to make it attractive or consumers (including the French variety), and take over more and more of the world wine market.

Posted In: Wine Business


3 Responses

  1. Jack - April 21, 2005

    “the antiquated, anti-consumer sloth-inspiring industry the rioting whiners feel needs protecting.” – Gosh Tom, tell us how you really feel! Just kidding.
    Good thing for them that no one is going to conduct a worldwide poll on whether or not French vintners should receive any kind of bailout. They’ve had their head in the sand for so long that it’s hard to imagine anyone favoring a bailout.
    And the suggestion of imposing/increasing tariffs on wine imported into France is outrageous! Either compete in the real world or get off the wine island.
    And since when is it okay to riot if you’re an incompetent businessman? (And what if wine consumers from around the world were to stop buying French wine because of these riots?)

  2. tom - April 21, 2005

    Let me be clear that I’ve not read anywhere that the french whiners want tarrifs. However, they have said they want “protection” for the domestic wine market…meaning French wines in the French market. That said, what the heck does “protection” mean. I suppose it could me massive subsides beyond the 70 million euros they’ve already got the govt. to pledge. Or, I guess it could mean getting rid of social legislation that has discouraged drinking. But gosh, “protection” juse does sound like “tarrif”.

  3. huge - April 22, 2005

    With the sharp declines in consumption in their own country, I wonder how domestic protection will really help them…? What they need is export assistance as the UK market has gone to the dingos and the US market recovery for French wine will be slow and mostly at the higher end. Gallo and Fat Bastard are the only French wines doing well in the “everyday” category right now.

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