Winemakers run riot in Macon

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  • Tuesday 13 September 2005

Police used teargas last week on rampaging Burgundian winemakers demonstrating against government-imposed cuts on wine yields.

Around 300 winemakers ransacked the government-run appellations institue (INAO) building in Macon last Thursday night, vandalising property and setting fire to documents in the street outside the offices.

The protesters dumped several hundred kilograms of grape must in front of the building.

The violent demonstration came to an end at around 10pm after police used tear gas to disperse the marauding vintners.

The INAO had demanded reduced yeilds for almost all red wine growing regions in France. For the Macon region, the reduction is around 3 hl/ha (hectolitres per hectare) for red wines and 2 hl/ha for whites.

Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages yields are also to be cut – in this case by 5 hl/ha

Although the reduction is inevitable if France is to reduce its surplus stocks, and although it represents only around 5% the normal levels for the Macon region, it is hitting winemakers hard.

Prior to the ransacking of the INAO building, three of the four heads of regional winemakers’ unions resigned in protest at the government-imposed limits on yields.

The resignations of Jean-Michel Aubinel, Jean-Paul Delaye and Gérard Maître were confirmed yesterday. All three were members of the INAO's regional commitee in Burgundy.

The government denonounced the violent protests as ‘irresponsible’.

Other reduced yields ordered by the INAO (for AOC red wines unless stated otherwise):

-10 hl/ha for Cahors

-6 hl/ha for Gaillac

-5 hl/ha for Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages

-5 hl/ha for Muscadet (AOC white wine)

-5 hl/ha for Bergerac

-4 hl/ha for Bordeaux

-3 hl/ha for Bourgogne Passetougrain and Macon

-3 hl/ha for Cotes du Rhone

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