Independent growers help drive french wine exports19-02-2016
The independent grower segment in France, “les Vignerons Independants”, have seen year-on-year growth in market share in international markets.
Countries across the world are showing a particular interest in these “original” wines.
In 2015, French wines and spirits exports soared to a landmark value of 11.7 billion euros, an 8.7% increase on the previous year. Alcohol and wines is now France’s second most important export sector after the aeronautics industry, and now ahead of perfumes and cosmetics. French independent growers have played an important role in driving exports for a number of years now. According to a national poll commissioned by the Vignerons Independants Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013, 66% of growers who are members of the independent winegrowers network are reported to export their wine. Sales in foreign markets have increased by 22% in 12 months to stabilise at a value of 500 million euros. According to the same study, one in two growers expressed an interest in exporting, confirming their determination to sell beyond the French borders.
What is an independant grower?
To obtain recognised “vigneron independant” status and logo, producers must comply with a number of actions: respect the soils, manage the vine, harvest the grapes, vinify and age the wine, bottle their production and relish every opportunity to taste their wines. As such, the independent grower is a microcosm of the entire wine industry and all the different professions therein.
Showcasing the wines of independent growers abroad
“France Overseas” is a group of 16 independent growers from the Loire, who produce wine using both conventional andorganic practices. This commercial association specialises in exports of AC Loire wines, and recently, took on a range ofBordeaux wines. The aim of the group is simple, to introduce the wines and their region of production to foreign markets. “From its early beginnings, France Overseas was set up to work exclusively in export markets. Many small growers lacked the experience and the physical and financial means to develop the export side of their business,” explains Corentin Gallais, export manager of France Overseas of South America.
And so the group was formed, guaranteeing total independence for each grower on the domestic market, while consolidating the efforts of each vineyard to secure new markets abroad. 75% of France Overseas is owned by the growers, while the remaining 25% is detained by the export sales team. Their objective is to promote Loire Valley wines throughout the world, fromSancerre to Muscadet, showcasing a variety of appellations and styles, and with a river at the very heart of their terroir andtradition.
Terroir, an increasingly sought-after concept in foreign markets
The grower collective implements an effective strategy to consolidate and secure new markets: a strong, permanent presence on the market and a thorough socio-linguistic knowledge of the terrain. “We often travel abroad and take part in events and international fairs” explains Corentin Gallais. France Overseas is now established in four continents: North America, Asia, South America and Europe, with Asia being the most important. “This is due to the relative straightforward nature of the export process. The countries in question have in most cases been importing for a considerable time and recognise the quality of the wines.”
Against a backdrop of increasing international competition, the time is ripe for France Overseas to promote its uniqueness. “The concept of terroir and wines crafted by small-scale producers are increasingly sought-after in export markets. It is a gauge of quality and a commitment to a specific method of production that respects the growers and promotes the concept of a region’s specific savoir-faire,” concludes Corentin Gallais.
Date for the diary: Independent Growers Wine Fair 2016 – Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants 2016, Espace Champerret, 18-21 March 2016.