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Bordeaux, one of France’s renowned wine regions, is facing an uphill battle as it grapples with a combination of challenges that threaten its historic winemaking tradition, CNBC reported.
Extreme weather events and shifting consumer preferences are making it increasingly difficult for winemakers to sustain their operations. Many of them have begun uprooting their wines and are asking the government for compensation.
Official data showed that between June and July there were more than 580 requests for compensation from winemakers who either wanted to end production or diversify their land usage.
The government has put together a $216 million fund to help winemakers destroy their wine and distill it into pure alcohol for use in other products, according to the Washington Post.
In recent years, Bordeaux’s winemakers have been facing the growing impact of climate change, including hailstorms, frosts and droughts. Observers have also pointed out that the production costs have increased, while demand and wine consumption have gone down.
Traditionally, the region has been known for its production of red wines, but consumer preferences are now shifting towards lighter wines and even beer.
This shift is reflected in the significant increase in the number of active brewers in France, which has grown from 322 in 2009 to 2,500 in 2021. Wine sales in France have also dropped by more than a third between 2000 and 2020, while beer sales have seen a seven percent increase over the same period.
The International Organization of Vine and Wine also reported that French wine exports decreased by five percent in 2022 compared with the year before.
“In the next five years, we will see less vines in Bordeaux,” agricultural engineer Sylvie Courselle told CNBC.
But while French winemakers might be in trouble, German producers have been experiencing an upward trend that has seen wine production rising because of higher temperatures.
Northern German vineyards – which have also faced frost episodes – have benefited from warmer temperatures that have improved the quality of vines.
At the same time, the United Kingdom has witnessed significant growth in its wine industry: The number of vineyard hectares in the UK has quadrupled since 2000, with wine sales rising by 31 percent annually in 2021.