French winegrowers march against wine plans
French winegrowers staged rallies Thursday against plans to ban free wine tasting and online advertising for alcohol.
31 October 2008
BORDEAUX - Hundreds of French winegrowers staged rallies Thursday against plans to ban free wine tastings and online advertising for alcohol, saying it would amount to "prohibition".
Winegrowers are alarmed by plans, unveiled in a health ministry bill last week, to ban open bars and the handing out of free alcohol, which would include tastings in winegrowers' cellars.
The wine industry is also urging the government to clarify a 1991 law that tightly restricts advertising for alcohol, to officially allow wine ads on the Internet - despite fierce opposition from anti-alcohol campaigners.
In the southwestern wine capital Bordeaux, some 150 wine professionals and lawmakers from the region gathered to press their point home.
"I am committed to fighting alcoholism, but history shows that prohibition is not the answer," said the city's mayor, former prime minister Alain Juppe.
The head of the Bordeaux great wines federation, Laurent Gapenne, attacked the idea of a wine tasting ban as "disastrous" for the industry.
Another 200 to 300 winegrowers joined a rally in the western city of Angers, while several hundred more protested in southeastern Lyon against what they called "censorship" towards their industry.
"If they wanted to kill off winegrowers altogether, this would be the right way to go about it," charged Agnes Payan, head of France's Independent Winegrowers' association.
[AFP / Expatica]