Militant French wine protesters have exploded two bombs at a co-op headquarters in Languedoc.
Fumes of stale wine, shattered glass and burnt out debris remained
where the front of the co-operative union building for the Herault
area stood only 24 hours ago. A similar scene was visible at the
neighbouring union in Narbonne.
‘The deadline has passed,’ said an anonymous caller, believed to
belong to a faction of wine militant group, the CRAV. His words appear
to be a reference to the recent televised ultimatum given by several
balaclava-clad activists to French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
But instead of government offices, it was fellow French
winemakers who took the first blow – revealing a growing power
struggle between moderates and hardliners in Languedoc.
The two blasts, which occurred around 1am Tuesday, followed a
passionate regional protest by around 300 winemakers against EU plans
to rip out vines and reform Europe’s wine sector.
‘I heard a huge bang and thought an aeroplane had crashed,’ said Louis
Terral, 76, who lives opposite the Herault union building, outside
Both bombs are considered revenge attacks, after union officials
refused to join Monday’s protest. Several protestors spoke of a
divide in the wine community.
‘It is a symbolic act by a minority,’ said Boris Calmette, president
of the Herault union.
‘We believe it is important to have good working relations with those
in Brussels and Paris, but unfortunately certain people have more
Those at Monday’s protest took a tougher stance, referring to the huge
winemaker uprising in 1907. ‘Just like people were here in 1907, now
we are here again to fight for our way of life,’ said François
Thiebaud, of the leftwing Modef union.
No one was injured in the recent bomb attacks, but some wonder how
long that will last.
One ex-CRAV member told Decanter.com: ‘It is a dangerous situation.
The CRAV has disintegrated into small groups of radicals in different
areas. All it will take is one person with a gun.’
It is feared there will be more violence as debate on EU wine reform
begins in earnest.
Critics say there are simply too many winemakers in Languedoc selling
low quality wine.
Mariann Fischer Boel, European agriculture commissioner, announced her
proposals Wednesday to re-launch EU wines on world markets and drain
the bloc’s surplus. These included a plan to grub up 200,000ha
(hectares) of vines, and to abolish planting rights by 2013.
Written by Chris Mercer