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Producers must pay appellation fees, France rules

Appellations can force wine producers to pay membership fees, a French court has ruled.

In an important test case that will have an impact across France, the Constitutional Council in Paris has ruled that it is legal for syndicates, or growers’ organisations, to make membership payments mandatory.

The decision has a direct impact on the case brought against the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (CIVB) in December 2010 by a group of winemakers who were withholding their contributions, citing mismanagement and lack of transparency.

Georges Haushalter, director of the CIVB, told decanter.com: ‘This is truly a crucial decision, because syndicates across France would have been unable to continue their work if the court had ruled membership contributions [or cotisations] unconstitutional.

‘The decision says that we don’t need to change anything. We will continue with our mission to promote the best interests of our members and the wines of Bordeaux,’ he added.

Agricultural bodies around France organise their budgets based on membership contributions. In the CIVB’s case, this money – usually several thousands of Euros per year – is paid by all merchants and winemakers in the region. The money funds marketing, research and promotion of Bordeaux wines.

A case brought by the CIVB to reclaim its contributions will be rekindled following the Constitutional Council’s decision.


Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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