The activist wine group CRAV has issued a one-month ultimatum to Nicolas Sarkozy threatening ‘action’, and possibly deaths, if the new premier does not help the struggling southern French wine industry.
In what may well be the precursor to the most violent period of its recent history, the Regional Committee for Viticultural Action (CRAV) told Sarkozy he had one month to honour his electoral promises of supporting the wine industry or ‘the whole industry will be targeted’.
On a pre-recorded cassette delivered to TV channel France 3 on Wednesday evening, five balaclava-clad men – ‘somewhere in the Languedoc hinterland’, according to the report – read out a statement addressed to the new president.
They said that if in one month nothing has changed and that wine prices have not gone up, they will go into action.
‘If Sarkozy does not support the interests of the wine industry, he will be entirely responsible for what happens,’ said their spokesman. ‘We are at the point of no return.’
Alluding to the activities of the French resistance in the Second World War, the CRAV say that they will, ‘come out of the maquis (scrub) and go into action.’
Calling on all winemakers to join them, the activists referred to the 1907 winemakers’ uprising in Montpellier, issuing a call to arms and intimating that lives may well be lost.
‘Be worthy representatives of the 1907 revolt where several died so that future generations could live by their profession. See to it that our children know what it is to make wine,’ they said.
The CRAV has been active in different guises since 1907 when began as the Comité du Salut Viticole. The organisation has resurfaced whenever Languedoc winemakers have had their livelihoods threatened. However, one insider told decanter.com that its recent incarnation was less organised, less effective and smaller than the CRAV of the 80s.
Written by Oliver Styles