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Climate change: French wineries join Greenpeace

France's independent winemakers have joined eco-warriors Greenpeace in a one-off bid to raise awareness about the effects of climate change on wine.

In anticipation of Copenhagen climate change conference, Michel Issaly, president of the Vignerons Indépendants de France (VIF), held a joint press conference with Pascal Husting, France’s head of Greenpeace.

‘The very essence of terroir-based wine is at stake,’ Husting said, while Issaly listed the myriad visible – and predicted – implications of climate change for French wine.

Issaly, who owns Domaine de la Ramaye in Gaillac, emphasised that while the VIF had approached Greenpeace knowing the latter’s controversial reputation could help garner publicity, it was with the understanding that non-peaceful tactics were ‘out of the question.’

‘I admit I was wary of Greenpeace, and not everyone was happy to work with them initially,’ he told decanter.com.

‘We don’t believe anything concrete can be achieved through violence. Every time CRAV strikes, for example, it hurts the image of French wine.

‘But we communicated to Greenpeace that our message is meant to be constructive, not destructive. And in the end it worked very well.’

Anaiz Parfait, manager of Greenpeace’s climate change campaign in France, said this was the organisation’s third wine-focused effort this year.

‘We were looking for a theme to help mobilise the French public,’ she said.

‘We have been working with chefs, sommeliers and other industry people to focus public attention on wine as a product of great cultural and economic importance.’

The campaign included an open letter signed by about 50 winemakers and chefs and published in August in French newspaper Le Monde. But both Greenpeace and the VIF say their co-operation was a stand-alone event.

‘You could say this was opportunistic, an alliance of circumstances,’ said Issaly.

‘Greenpeace highlighted the problems with terroir that we winemakers notice more every day.

‘This was a chance to encourage our own members as well as consumers to take a stand, to commit to change their own behaviour in some meaningful way.’

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Written by Maggie Rosen

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