It is a key part of French life that provides 75,000 jobs. But the country’s winemakers are angry. Falling exports and slumping sales at home have hit hard, prompting those at the sharp end to take to the streets and demand government compensation. The southern city of Avignon was one of several places in which a demonstration was held. “Our livelihoods are at stake,” said one woman, as she marched with a banner.
“Our wine isn’t selling and we have fixed taxes that we can’t pay. “I think this is a decisive year and, if it continues, next year we will no longer be around.” The wine sector has been hit by factors such as France’s row with Washington over the Iraq war and the rise in the euro against the dollar, which makes French products more expensive abroad. At home, falling consumption is being blamed on a health campaign by the government and moves to tackle drink-driving. France’s Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau said he will meet industry representatives next week to discuss their situation.