Militant winemakers bombed a call centre last week as part of an evening of protests and violence in the south of France.

The notorious CRAV group (Regional Committee for Viticultural Action) threw an explosive device through the window of France Telecom in Vendemian, 30km west of Montpelier, at 1am last Friday morning.

There were no casualties but the bomb caused extensive damage to offices and machinery. The inscription ‘CRAV’ was found daubed on a nearby wall.

France Telecom is warning customers that they will experience communication difficulties for the next fortnight.

Further west, in Beziers, wine merchants Castel Frères nearly lost two storage tanks of wine. These were opened at 10pm but the saboteurs took flight on hearing the approach of the night watchmen.

Wine merchants Jeanjean in Saint-Felix-de Lodez, west of Montpelier, were not so lucky. The merchants lost 2,500hl (hectolitres) of wine with CRAV activists emptying four of tanks on the warehouse floor. The now highly-recognised calling card, ‘premier avertissement’ (‘you have been warned’), was found sprayed on the wall.

On this occasion, however, the perpetrators signed off ‘VL’ (‘vignerons libres’ or free winemakers) rather than CRAV.

A spokeswoman from the Coopertative of Vitners in the Herault said that ‘by free, they actually mean isolated’. She also said that the vandals could not be further from the motto of their cooperative: ‘Un pour tous, tour pour un’ (one for all and all for one).

‘These people are extremely negative and are ruining the reputation of the wine industry in this area of France,’ she said. ‘Ironically, the CRAV demonstrate the very real despair vintners are experiencing at present but their choice of activities is very worrying for people and they are cutting off their nose to spite their face.’

Written by Tessa Edbrooke