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With no vine pulls or distillation, “2023 is going to be a tough year for bulk wine”

By Vitisphere October 24, 2022
With no vine pulls or distillation, “2023 is going to be a tough year for bulk wine”
“Let me make it clear - there are wineries which, in spite of the small 2021 harvest and its once-in-a-century frost, are still half full. Speed is of the essence”, warns Gérard Bancillon - crédit photo : Confédération Vins IGP (congrès 2022 à Sète)

ldquo;A crisis situation requires crisis solutions”, claims Gérard Bancillon, chairman of the French federation of Protected Geographical Designation wines, calling for financial support from the French government and the European Commission. As the harvest and winemaking process draw to a close, the Gard winegrower is asking authorities to rapidly grasp the issues facing the wine industry and alleviate the pressure that is increasingly threatening businesses. “Things need to happen very, very quickly and regional prefects need to be galvanized into action and examine the situation on a regional basis”, urges Bancillon, highlighting how fortunes vary from one wine region to another.

We have regions in France where demand is undeniably strong and there is a lack of inventories (Burgundy, Champagne...) that need to be supported (with yields in excess of legal thresholds). There are regions where markets are less dynamic and others where markets have crashed. The chequebook needs to come out”, warns the chairman of the PGI wine federation, who wants to see crisis distillation and subsidised vine pull schemes quickly introduced. Calling for differentiated interventions depending on the region, he advocates crisis distillation to clear stocks that have been affected by short-term issues. “Like some PGI wines primarily sold in supermarkets which are facing inflation with the war in Ukraine, pushing consumers to choose grocery staples over wine. This is a temporary concern for some PGIs, where volumes can be absorbed by distillation”, explains Bancillon, who adds: “2023 is going to be a tough year for bulk wine. We have to give winegrowers a glimmer of hope through distillation and vine pulls, to slow the decline in consumption, avoid markets collapsing and give hope to those who carry on”.

In addition to crisis distillation, Bancillon advocates structural grubbing-up: “Some of the most famous regions have structural problems and will have to pull vines. Bordeaux is one, but it’s not the only one”, claims Bancillon, referring to prices in the Languedoc appellation that periodically dip too low. The French wine industry wholeheartedly supports the principle of vine pulls in Bordeaux, but the challenge now is now to find a way of funding them so that the scheme can materialise.

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