Thursday, July 05, 2007

Grape Expectations

Are gloomy in France, still:

...unable to pay his bills, Mr Bourchet has uprooted several hectares that he has carefully tended for 25 years. In return, he will receive a few thousand euros in European subsidies to "definitively grub up" the vines.

"I come from a family of wine growers. I had hoped to pass my vineyards on to my children but my pockets are empty: we can no longer carry on a thousand-year-old tradition of wine making. It's an emotional moment," he said, staring at the grape graveyard rotting in the midday sun.

Mr Bourchet is just one of many small-scale "vignerons" (wine growers) in the Languedoc and Roussillon region who are prepared to grub up to avoid bankruptcy after three years of losses.

He said times were so bad that several winegrowers had committed suicide since the beginning of the year.

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