Fire & Wine: The French Way

There was a time when Wark Communications wasn’t doing to well. Wineries seemed to be choosing other public relation firms over ours. In the face of this difficulty, I seriously considered attacking and burning down the buildings that held the offices of competing pubic relations firms. You know, really punishing them them having the audacity to compete with me. That would teach them!

In the end I chose a different strategy to overcome the difficulty my firm was having. I chose to work a bit harder and alter the way I approached the business.

However, I could just as easily taken the building-burning approach…Like These Folks In France.

CRAV, the militant French wine industry group in the South of France warns they may again take up violent means to protest the problems they are having selling their grapes. At the moment, global economic conditions are making it difficult for many French grapegrowers to sell their fruit at a profit. For these farmers the situation can genuinely be called a crisis.

The European Union has announced a series of measures to address what is a serious over production of grapes in Europe. The group of militant French grapegrowers warn they have another plan: burn buildings and vandalize. You’ve got to admit, it is a plan.

World reports that next year will be the 100th anniversary of the wine crisis of 1907 when, like today, grapegrowers in the south of France took to the streets to protest a plummeting market for wine grapes. Troops had to be brought in to quell the violence.

The prospect of more CRAV-initiated violence worries many of those working on behalf of the French wine industry:

"I hope we don’t see more violence. It destroys our promotional efforts,” said Denis Verdier, head of France’s Wine Co-operatives’ Union.

The French are not violent people by nature. However, their modern history is filled with example after example of demonstrations and violence prompting the government to make changes. The fact is, those French grapegrowers who over the past two years have taken violent action against wine importers and brokers have good reason to believe these actions and threats of direct action will result in change…or at least direct more government payments to failing businesses. It has in the past.

The European Union is debating proposed sweeping changes to reform the European wine sector. Among the proposals is ripping out huge numbers of vineyards and reducing the amount of wine that is purchased and turned into industrial grade alcohol. Response to the proposals is divided. The traditional wine producing countries such as France, Italy and Spain are against the plan. They will be hit hardest by the reforms while newer European wine industries that have less to lose have generally embraced the plan.

Meanwhile there seems to be talk of another plan that some winemakers in the south of France have embraced: Enjoy the current difficult condition by the light of a flaming bonfire.

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