Monday, May 08, 2006

Militant what?

I found a bizarre story about a French organization called CRAV, or the Regional Committee on Viticultural Action. They have been, if Decanter is to be believed, wreaking havoc in the French countryside. That's right, militant wine makers. They bombed a France Telecom call center last week -- who knows why -- and they've been emptying opponents' wine tanks and bombing warehouses.

Dr. Vino explains their position on his wine blog:

"What do these disaffected winemakers want with their campaign of violence? Well, the status quo. Actually, a reversion to the status quo ante. The French government has been in a process of weaning table wine growers off of subsidies for two decades or more. Table wines, in this case, are a category of insipid wines that previous generations consumed in vast quantity. As French consumers have started to drink less, but better wine, the table wine producers face increasing difficulty in finding a market for their wines. Thus they rely on the state to issue a guaranteed minimum price for their wines and periodically request crisis distillations as they did earlier this year. (Appellation wines, which now account for over half of the wine produced in France, receive no subsidy and are left to the whims of the market, which of late have provided a bumpy ride)."

Beverage Daily wrote about an outbreak of CRAV violence last year before a General Assembly of Winemakers conference:

"The conference came barely 24 hours after dozens of masked militants armed with baseball bats stormed a nearby wine facility in broad daylight, smashed open the vats, and sent 730,000 litres of French wine gushing into the street.

"The attack marks the re-start of the campaign by militant vintner group CRAV (Comité Régional d'Action Viticole), whose attacks disrupted supplies of South American and Spanish wine moving through France's Languedoc Roussillon region before the summer."

It sounds like what's happening is that the French are drinking less wine, and they're getting choosier about it, which leaves the table-wine makers with cheap wine no one wants. Further aggravating the situation is the influx of inexpensive wine from places like Chile.

The Scotsman reported on CRAV tactics last year in an article titled French wine rebels employ brut force and dynamite. CRAV seems to like setting vehicles on fire. Apparently they've bombed government buildings in Montpellier, Carcassonne and Nimes. They've also bombed wine warehouses. They usually write "CRAV" on the walls of the places they attack.

Is there any American analogue to this? I can't imagine microbrewers setting macrobreweries on fire, but it's fun to imagine.


Blogger k said...


buoyed by merlot
wine for real men
for potency and vigor
it makes the testes bigger

Merlot is for men a tanka poem

7:51 AM  

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