"Call me old fashioned, but I just don't get he idea of causing havoc as a way to address the fact that the world is changing when it comes to economic and marketing models that govern the French wine industry." Tom Wark
Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog: Memo to French Wine Industry: CHANGE!!.
While Tom gets a lot of things, he clearly does not get the French, or, perhaps Europeans in general. First of all, Tom lives in the heart of California wine country doing PR for wineries. While that is clearly a respectable profession, California wine culture and politics has little to do with the life of the average European wine farmer. Let’s face it, California wineries for the most part have buckets of money. Small boutique wineries are often owned by mega-bucks owners who made fortunes in other industries. Then there are the giant corporations like Constellation, Vincor and others who make wine with the passion of your average Vodka producer, the ethics of Enron and financial resources of Exxon.
What Tom does not take into account that all those radical Frenchmen taking to the street to fight for their rights, actually need those rights to stay in business. It not the Drouhins or Rothchilds tossing up the barricades, but small farmers just trying to get by who are taking this fight to the streets.
No, these small farmers can’t afford the professional PR skills of a Tom Wark and they don’t know they need to put funny pictures of animals on their labels in order to sell their wines to the sophisticated Americans. All they know is their farms are on the edge of failure.
The fact of the matter is that most European countries are far more democratic than the United States and that people, even small groups, are used to having their voices heard as a basic right of their freedom. Tom wants them to give up their freedoms and to fade quietly into history so that corporations that can afford the proper PR to sell their wines can take over the wine world.
For me, I’ll take the producer that hits the streets and has the courage to fight the system. These are the types of souls that have the passion and intensity required to make great wine. While obviously few of these protesters will ever make a great wine, their spirit is worthy of our respect and their problems are worthy of our understanding.