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Beaujolais producers unite to stop ‘loss of vines’

Three major Beaujolais producers have created a joint investment company to buy vineyards in Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages to guard against the 'worrying loss of vines in the region'.

BCD Développement is a joint project by Boisset Family Wines, Les Vins Georges Duboeuf and Le Cellier de Saint Etienne cooperative.

‘The surface area of vines in Beaujolais (pictured) and Beaujolais villages has dropped by 38% over the past 10 years,’ Grégory Large, president of the newly-formed BCD Développement, told decanter.com.

‘This is a worrying loss of vines caused by a combination of urban sprawl from the city of Lyon and a decade of economic difficulties for local winemakers’.

The stated aim of the new investment company is to ‘ensure the long-term future of the 240 producers of the cooperative cellar’. It will operate by buying up vineyards, mainly from producers who are looking to retire and can not currently find buyers.

Purchased vineyards will be under contract to Le Cellier de Saint Etienne, with minimum price and quantity contracts for the grapes guaranteed for five years from négociants Boisset and Duboeuf. Le Cellier de Saint Etienne currently buys grapes from 415ha of vines.

‘The average age of winemakers in the region is 55, and many of them expect to pull up their vines if they can not find buyers,’ said Large. ‘The hope is that with this new company, we can encourage young winemakers to rent vineyards with a guarantee of future income.

‘The quality and reputation of Beaujolais wines has begun to see real recognition both in France and export markets, and we hope that by offering security to new entrants, we can build on this.’

The deal might raise concerns among some in the region about the extent of consolidation. However, Anne-Victoire Monrozier, an independent Beaujolais producer who bottles under the brand Miss Vicky Wine, said the deal is potentially of benefit to other small producers.

‘The most important is that negociants make a good wine at a fair price to push the region’s notoriety up. It’s through them that most consumers get to know Beaujolais.’

Dubouef and Boisset are not investors directly in the cooperative cellar, but are shareholders in the property company.

Written by Jane Anson

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