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When calves, cows and pigs come to the aid of Bordeaux winegrowers

By Vitisphere February 28, 2023
When calves, cows and pigs come to the aid of Bordeaux winegrowers
Could winegrowing be coming full circle and reverting back to mixed farming as a means of diversifying? - crédit photo : Alexandre Abellan

ow not to put all your eggs in the same basket was the topic of discussion at the latest AGM of the Gironde Federation of Independent Winegrowers. François Rauscher, advisor to the Gironde Chamber of Agriculture, assured attendees that plant production was booming. Interested in hazelnuts? “The industry is looking for 200 to 300 ha of hazelnut trees to plant. You need to allow for a minimum of 10 ha, with mandatory irrigation, an investment of €15,000/ha with a gross margin of €2,800/ha”.

If hazelnuts aren’t your thing, how about olive oil? French production is low and demand is high for quality French olive oil. The investment required ranges from €8,000 to €14,000/ha before the trees start bearing in their 4th  or 5th year and profit margins vary from €1,500 to €6,000/ha. Local firms are also looking for kiwi producers. The investment is between €50,000 and €80,000/ha before the plants come on-stream in their 4th year. The gross margin ranges from €6,000 to €10,000/ha. Saffron, dessert grapes, tobacco and hemp are also ways of diversifying. In terms of animal farming, there is also a wide range to choose from, including Pauillac lambs, fattened ducks, beef cattle and free-range pigs.

A rapt audience had plenty of questions: “Why weren’t steps taken before, why wasn't there a plan?” complained one female winegrower. Another grower from the Médoc, in his seventies, pointed the finger at the CIVB, the Bordeaux Wine Council, which allegedly offers no return on investment. “I don't accept mandatory contributions”, he said, adding, “In six months’ time, I will be out of business”. Régis Falxa, chairman of the Gironde Federation of Independent Winegrowers tried to reason with attendees by explaining that “the future is uncertain, but diversification can be a solution to overcome the crisis”.





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