France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region has once again fallen again to an attack by CRAV (Comité Régional d’Action Viticole), a rather radical and militant group of wine activists that has claimed responsibility for arson, hijacking, bomb-making and all sorts of vandalism. The quiet seaside town of Sète, outside of Montpellier, awoke last week to a river of wine flowing down a few of its streets, courtesy of CRAV.
Sète is home to Biron wine distributors, whose five large vats were opened during the night, draining more than 50,000 liters of wine into the adjoining streets, flooding nearby basements and underground garages. Biron, at least according to CRAV, is guilty of the “crime” of importing inexpensive wine from other countries. The recent pushback from French winemakers over the import of cheaper, some say inferior, wine from Spain has been growing: Tankers filled with Spanish wine were recently similarly relieved of their contents.
Although CRAV’s telltale graffiti calling cards were missing in Sète, the group did still claim responsibility for the vandalism, speaking to French TV’s Channel 3: “We cannot continue like this, so I think we go further,” said an anonymous CRAV spokesman, hinting that the next step would involve “the retail sector … supermarkets and the like.”