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The French wine giant Castel Frères is demanding 100,000 euros in compensation from winegrowers who demonstrated outside the production centre in Blanquefort near Bordeaux on 28 February. Castel Frères, which claims to be the third largest wine group in the world with a turnover of 720 million euros and 400 million bottles sold per year, said that it had to pay cleaning costs of around 69,000 euros, suffered economic losses of over 11,000 euros due to the blockade of the factory entrance and 20,000 euros in damage to its image.

Vines and hay bales were burned and slurry spilt during the protests by several agricultural unions and groups in favour of better prices for grapes and wines. "The demonstration was very friendly compared to the urgency and what Castel is practising," says a spokesperson for the winegrowers. "Castel, the largest négociant in Bordeaux, buys wines every day at prices that only cover half or a third of the production costs. But the winegrowers should not have the right to express their dissent." The protesters deny that there was any destruction. They concede that the cleaning, waste collection and disposal caused costs. However, as the protest plan had been publicised in advance, deliveries to the site could have been postponed. Not a single lorry turned up and security forces were present throughout the action. The demonstrations did not prevent the company from carrying out its business activities.

On 8 April, a meeting was held with representatives of the industry to negotiate better conditions for the winegrowers. The complaint is seen as an attempt at intimidation.

(al / Source: vitisphere)

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