Editorial: EU green harvest subsidies are misguided

Last month, the Regione Toscana (Tuscan Regional Authority) announced that, using EU subsidies, it will pay Chianti and Chianti Classico producers Euro 3,200 for every hectare of “green harvested” vines.

I am well aware that, according to EU legislation, “green harvesting means the total destruction or removal of grape bunches while still in their immature stage, thereby reducing the yield of the relevant area to zero.”

I am also aware that “support for green harvesting shall contribute to restoring the balance of supply and demand in the market in wine in the Community in order to prevent market crises” [the final phase of EU Common Market Organisation reforms that include voluntary grubbing-up incentives to be distributed to and applied by EU members at their discretion, subsidies intended to reduce the number of vineyards that may have never produced wines but were planted rather to reap distillation subsidies in years of reckless EU promotion of growth].

Frankly, I just can’t understand this means of regulation and “balancing” production to aid producers during the market crisis. Honestly, I find it hard to swallow.

In my view, such regulation seems more suited to industries like iron and steel or car manufacturing — not for such a wondrous thing as wine.

Perhaps I’m a stubborn old enophilic Don Quixote who views wine romantically, as an expression of the earth, a modality of rustic knowledge, and the fruit of artisan culture. It is not a simple product that can be financed and manufactured when the market is “up” and then discarded when things get difficult.

Strange things have been happening in the world of wine today.

—Franco Ziliani


2 thoughts on “Editorial: EU green harvest subsidies are misguided

  1. Franco, I may not understand this legislation exactly but green harvesting is just one operation in grape growing that reduces yield, a rather late one in fact. It is a last ditch effort to reduce yield in Summer rather than in Spring with proper pruning to desired yields.

    Can I understand this legislation to mean that if two producers each produce 45hl/ha but one who had carried 20% more crop throughout the growing season and green harvested them would receive 3,200 euros per hectaure but the one who hadn’t would not? Wouldn’t this encourage producers in Spring to prune to higher crop levels in Spring so they could green harvest later in Summer and be rewarded with 3,200 euros?

    Sounds like another subsidy for industrial wine that will not result in improved quality.

  2. Any possibility that the green-harvested Italian vine (so full of life) may recover from it and thus produce grapes in the end?

    I suggest they green harvest very early (say December). Advantages; primo, no so much foliage to green-harvest. Secundo, more chances that the vine bears fruit in the end. The grower would win both ways. I only take a very small fee for the advice.

    Remember the farmers that used to kill their cattle twice to get the Euro-money twice?

    Anyway Franco, If you think you are too romantic about wine, then I am too and I think this is a very honorable club.

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