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Languedoc raises organic wine game

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Languedoc-Roussillon region of France aims to become the country's leading region in organic wine production.

Speaking at the Millsime Bio 2008 conference held in Perpingan, Thierry Julien, president of the French inter-professional Organic wines Association (AIVB), said the Languedoc-Roussillon region will become the leading region in France for the production of organic wines.

Figures up to the end of 2006 by the Agenc Bio 2006, the body responsible for organic certification, shows 359 estates, owned by 54 winegrowers are now involved in organic wines.

This is 5290 ha out of the regions 30,000 ha, an increase of 2% on 2005.

Around 2million bottles of organic wines from the region are sold each year, half of which are exported.

However, reduced funding by the French Government and European Union, has resulted in a "slow down" in the number of producers entering the market.

Funding nationally and via the EU has been reduced from 700 per ha per annum to just 350 per ha per annum.

Patrick Marcotte, director of CIVAM BIO 66, a sustainable agriculture group, said that funding to Italy has remained the same which has put the region at a disadvantage.

As a result the region has implemented a four-point plan to support the development of the production and marketing of organics.

The plan includes:

- Increased aid for company investment to support the region's 23 co-operatives, small producers and merchants including to convert vineyards to organic;

- technical support to define and apply an organic vinification charter and to help winegrowers obtain certification for export countries including the UK and US. The Regional Council provided 39,000 to support the charter;

- increased research in viticulture and marketing advice;

- Wines from the region will be promoted under the banner Sud de France (South of France) in the national and foreign markets.