In Languedoc-Roussillon in the sunny south of France, a shadowy group has taken to “wine terrorism” to try to force the state to do more for producers hit by falling prices and cheap imports.
In a night-time raid last month its militants broke into a wine cooperative in Nimes and poured the equivalent of 1.2 million bottles of red, white and rose down the drain in their third attack in as many weeks.
“At 7 am, when the first person arrived ... he saw that all the vats were open and empty, with what was left of the wine all over the ground," said Jean Foch, the director of the Vignerons des Garrigues cooperative.
The wasted wine was worth around 8,30,000 dollars, he said, adding that most of it was from Languedoc-Roussillon, which in terms of volume is the biggest wine-producing region in the world.
Scrawled on the empty vats were the letters “CRAV”, which in French stands for the Regional Committee for Viticultural Action, a secretive group that recently resumed a campaign it began several years ago.
The CRAV hates merchants who bring in cheap foreign wine from neighbouring Italy or Spain and has called for the state to guarantee prices for local producers.
The group, which once warned President Nicolas Sarkozy that “blood will flow” if it was not heeded, has in recent years claimed responsibility for bomb attacks on supply trucks, supermarkets, and the ministry of agriculture.
Executives at the cooperative — which produces more than 38 million litres of wine a year — agree that current market prices are disastrously low because of a glut of wine.