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Zonin warns of Italian crisis'

Published:  23 July, 2008

The world of Italian wine is in trouble. If we don't come out
of this crisis in a hurry, I see thousands of jobs being lost
in vineyards, in cellars, in distribution and in the media,' according to Gianni Zonin, one of Italy's principal wine producers with 1,800 hectares of vineyard spread over 11 estates.

Zonin goes on to insist on the urgency of producers, government and consumer groups getting together to work out a social pact' that would bring about a reduction in taxes on wine, a reduction of selling prices, a rethink of established methods of distribution and a relaunch of the image of wine.

There is talk of a modest recovery in wine consumption,' continues Zonin, but the reality is that the price of grapes is in strong decline; that in four years the wine sector has contracted by 11%; that millions of hectolitres are due for distillation; that exports are falling even to countries like the UK and USA, where wine consumption is rising. And who knows how long we are going to be able to fend off the wines of other producer nations in the internal market?'

Zonin argues that Italy cannot afford a collapse in the wine industry - it is too important for the national economy, constituting, as it does, the largest part of the agro-alimentary sector. But the crisis is not just economic. Defending wine means defending our identity,' he maintains.

Zonin is convinced that many small wineries will disappear and that there will be concentration in all areas of wine production and distribution. However, there are positive aspects of this, he says, since the Italian wine industry currently suffers from chronic fragmentation and will have to fight in future against the international colossi.

by Nicolas Belfrage MW & Franco Ziliani