To combat the spread of the flavescence dorée, a dangerous grapevine disease, French government officials, regional authorities, and wine professionals have jointly initiated a sanitary uprooting scheme in the Bordeaux vineyards.
Marc Fesneau, the French Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, visited a local vineyard in Gironde today to officially launch this initiative. It follows an agreement made on March 1, 2023, with Alain Rousset, President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, and Allan Sichel, President of the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB), to implement a plan to thin the Bordeaux vineyard. This innovative strategy involves a targeted vine uprooting program to curb the spread of flavescence dorée. An online call for pre-candidates will open on June 5, 2023, marking the first step in this plan.
The plan’s announcement comes amid an economic crisis affecting many Bordeaux vineyards, facing challenging situations due to financial constraints and the inability to maintain their vineyards. The threat is that these abandoned vineyards may become breeding grounds for diseases like flavescence dorée, potentially leading to an uncontrollable phytosanitary situation for the entire region. It’s estimated that around 10,000 hectares of vineyards may be impacted.
An expedited strategy has been initiated to preempt the potential phytosanitary crisis due to mass vine abandonments in 2023. It includes a sanitary uprooting plan for the vineyards and is jointly managed by the CIVB, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, and the French government. This collective effort will help keep the destructive grapevine disease at its lowest possible prevalence.
The uprooting and subsequent reforestation of abandoned vineyards will be managed by Alliance Forêt Bois (AFB), a cooperative group. VineyAlliance Forêt Bois (AFB), a cooperative group, will manage the uprooting and subsequent reforestation of abandoned vineyards on the verge of being abandoned will be transitioned to forested areas or natural zones (financed by the French government), or the uprooted vineyards will be repurposed to diversify the farmer’s agricultural activities (financed by CIVB). Each hectare will receive a funding of €6,000. The Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region will supplement this with investment aid for parcels undergoing agricultural reconversion.
The French government has pledged up to €38 million, with an immediate release of €30 million. The Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region will contribute an additional €10 million, and the CIVB will provide €19 million.
To identify and map out the potential plots for support, vintners can submit pre-application forms starting from June 5, 2023, until July 17, 2023, on a dedicated online platform provided by the Gironde Department of Territories and the Sea. These pre-applications do not authorize uprooting but will be given priority during the final and official request stage.
Minister Fesneau commended the collaborative effort among the state, Bordeaux’s wine industry, and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region. He expressed optimism that the measures would equip Bordeaux’s vintners to combat flavescence dorée effectively, underlining their commitment to preserving the esteemed heritage of French viticulture.