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Bordeaux doubles incentives for uprooting uneconomic vineyards

Financial incentives to encourage Bordeaux wine growers to uproot their uneconomic vines are to be doubled.

The Bordeaux wine trade body, the CIVB, has announced that growers who uproot their vines will be entitled to compensation of €12,000 (£8,300) per hectare – almost double the rate (€6,300 per hectare) offered by the European Commission.

The announcement followed a meeting between the French agriculture minister and Christian Delpeuch, the CIVB’s president, during which the minister committed the government to underwrite a long-term loan of €60m (£41.5m) proposed by the CIVB to finance the scheme.

The CIVB hopes the higher incentive rate will encourage more growers to apply for the voluntary scheme. Their objective is to uproot 10,000 hectares of the region’s vines (8% of Bordeaux’s vineyard area) over a 3-year period. So far in 2004-05, applications have been made to uproot only about 200 hectares.

Bordeaux’s vineyards have grown from 75,000 hectares in the 1960s to 124,000 hectares today.

A parallel scheme to distill 500,000 to 1m hectolitres of Bordeaux’s unsold wine stocks is to be financed by a ‘solidarity fund’ financed by other local producers.

A one-stop shop will be set up in Bordeaux to help producers applying for the uprooting and distillation schemes.

‘Current Brussels subsidies for uprooting and distillation are too low to act as an incentive,’ Roland Feredj, director of the CIVB, told decanter.com. ‘We realised that if we really wanted this scheme to have an impact, we’d need to increase compensation to a realistic level. The figure we settled on, €12,000 per hectare, is equivalent to 2 years’ turnover.’

The Minister also agreed to consider the CIVB’s request to make wine regulations more flexible – for example by allowing the creation of a Vin de Pays for the Bordeaux region.

‘The current crisis stems from France’s over-centralised, inefficient regulatory system, rather than foreign competition,’ says Feredj. ‘Bordeaux has a long history of selling wines abroad. We’re in difficulty now not because we don’t know how to sell wine, but because we’re not able to adapt our products to international demand.’

Written by Rupert Joy

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