French wine growers’ protest: Cargoes of Spanish cava and rose destroyed by demonstrators waging ‘economic war’

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Hundreds of crates of cava have been smashed and thousands of gallons of rose dumped by French wine growers in protest at cheap imports from Spain.

Around 500 vintners hijacked lorries at the border town of Boulou and destroyed their contents in what has been described as “an economic war”.

The protesters in France said they were demonstrating against unfair competition, as they were unable to match the low price of foreign wine, which caused problems in selling their own products.

French winemakers destroy a shipment of Freixenet cava coming from Spain during a demonstration by the tollbooth in Le Boulou
A union leader says ‘honest workers have decided to revolt’

The activists also smashed up and set fire to a cargo of tomatoes from Morocco.

According to The Telegraph, Frederic Rouanet, the wine growers’ union president for the Aude region, said: “It is out of the question to accept the situation as it is.

“Starting from today, we are going to remove the possibility of buyers being able to get cheap wines from elsewhere… we are going to stop Spanish imports.

“This is the start of an economic war that we are going to wage.”

The illicit action also received official backing from Alain Ginies, the vice president of Aude’s council, who said: “We have always been close to our wine growers, and we still are today.

“Our two economic strengths at the departmental level are tourism and viticulture.”

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Antoine, a 79-year-old wine grower from the town of Ouveillan, told Le Parisien: “The Spanish have lower charges and the right to put all the chemicals they want on their vines while we have the right to nothing.

“As a result, Spanish wine costs half as much as French wine. A hectolitre of Spanish wine costs €40 (£34.93) whereas it is almost €80 (£69.86) over here.”

French winemakers destroy a shipment of tomatoes coming from Spain during a demonstration by the tollbooth in Le Boulou, near the Spanish border, south of France
A cargo of tomatoes was set on fire during the demonstration

At a meeting a few days earlier to discuss the crisis, Mr Rouanet said: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

He read out a letter to be sent to French wine buyers that urged “a total halt in buying wine from other regions or abroad until the wines of our department are sold at a fair price”.

He said: “Let it be known in Paris that the situation in southern France is getting a bit worse every day and that us honest workers have decided to revolt.

“Let Paris know that the government bears a heavy responsibility for the drop in wine consumption and that they must compensate us accordingly.”

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