Monday, 7 November 2011

Wine Cave CoOperatives

I made my first wine at a Cave CoOperative in Saint Emilion over 20 years ago. The Cave CoOps were built up in the 1920s and 1930s when it was a difficult economic time....has much changed!?
The idea is to share wine making equipment and tanks and for the many thousands of smaller growers to be able to have somewhere to make their wines.
Many of the CoOps in the south of France are merging or closing down. They are trying to be more efficient and reducing their production costs and driving a harder economy of scale. This makes sense for reducing costs, but does not necessarily improve quality.
Jane Anson wrote about the changing face of Bordeaux Cave CoOps in Decanter magazine here.
Cave CoOps offer some great value and interesting wines. Soemtimes they are the mainstay of the village and the real heart of the community. It is a frequent sight to see someone walk in to the local CoOp in the Languedoc with an empty 2 litre plastic bottle of Evian and fill it up with Rose from the 'petrol pump' like tap on the wall. The price paid per litre.......75 cents!!!
Like all business in this recession and financial crisis CoOps have to shake up, wake up and become more efficient.
If more and more of them close down in the south of France one of the lasting tragedies will be the amazing architectural buildings, which will be left behind and abandoned.

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