French vintner invests in Azerbaijan wine revival

21st May 2004, Comments 0 comments

BAKU, May 21 (AFP) - The boss of Europe's leading wine trader unveiled plans Friday to plant vineyards in the Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan in an effort to revive the country's once-thriving wine industry.

BAKU, May 21 (AFP) - The boss of Europe's leading wine trader unveiled plans Friday to plant vineyards in the Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan in an effort to revive the country's once-thriving wine industry.

Pierre Castel, president and founder of French conglomerate Groupe Castel, said his specialists were picking out land for vineyards and planned to start planting the vines at the start of next year.

"All the conditions exist in Azerbaijan for the development of this profitable sector, and, most importantly, there are qualified professionals here," Azerbaijan's state news agency quoted Castel as saying.

Azerbaijan - along with its neighbour Georgia - used to supply much of the wine consumed by drinkers in the Soviet Union.

But its wine industry was wrecked overnight when the last Soviet leader
Mikhail Gorbachev, battling against disastrous levels of alcoholism, introduced prohibition and ordered the destruction of vineyards and distilleries across the Soviet Union.

The Groupe Castel boss, who was in Azerbaijan this week to meet government officials including President Ilham Aliyev, said the wine he planned to produce in Azerbaijan would be targeted at the Russian market.

His company already has a presence in the Caucasus with breweries in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.

Groupe Castel, founded in Bordeaux in 1949 by Pierre Castel and his three brothers, is now Europe's biggest wine distributor and the world's second largest. It also produces bottled water and soft drinks.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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