In France’s well-known wine-growing region around Bordeaux, many winegrowers have to use heavy equipment after the grape harvest in autumn: the vines are being torn up on around 9,500 hectares with millions in state aid because there is overproduction and economic problems. Wine consumption in France has been declining for some time. Instead of the traditional national drink, younger people in particular prefer a beer or avoid alcohol altogether. Changed lifestyle habits are the reason. In addition to this trend, climate change also poses a challenge for wine country France.

Beer has now overtaken wine – albeit by a sliver – as the most popular drink in France in marketing company Sowine’s annual survey. The preference for beer is therefore more pronounced among men than among women, and white wine is more in demand than red wine according to the survey. In the survey, 15 percent of people in France said they did not drink alcohol. Among the 18- to 25-year-olds it is 23 percent, in the age range of 50- to 65-year-olds only ten percent.

Wine consumption has been falling in France for a long time, with younger people in particular turning their backs on the national drink in recent years, such as the industry association Vin

The industry association sees changes in society as the cause. The traditional meals at which wine is served are becoming less important, and the culture of drinking wine is no longer automatically passed on in families. There are also more single households, but wine is more likely to be drunk in company. The association demands that the image of wine in France needs to be polished up. It’s not about calling on the French to excess, said Vin

The President of the National Committee of Wine Professions, Bernard Farges, warns of the consequences of the downward trend. “Many wine professionals are feeling the effects of market shrinkage, driven by falling consumption, combined with tough international competition and recent climatic uncertainties.” Producers are giving up the profession and he fears that there will be no successor for a number of winegrowing companies.

One of the winemakers in the Bordeaux area who has submitted a grubbing-up application is André Faugère. On average, he produces 1800 hectoliters of red wine per year. “I’ve been working with wine merchants for twenty years to export my wines to Africa and England, but sales are falling,” Faugère recently told broadcaster France 3. The falling consumption is hitting red wine harder than white or rosé wine. “I didn’t have a short- and medium-term perspective, so I decided to go for clearing. It was really realizing that eating habits have changed and people are drinking less red wine. And beer is gaining market share.”

Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau announced that the state, region and industry association want to pay up to 67 million euros for restructuring winegrowing around Bordeaux. Abandoned cultivated areas are to be reforested. There are currently around 110,000 hectares of cultivated land in the region in western France.

In addition to falling consumption, winegrowers in France are also having to deal with increasing dry periods. In the long term, France’s wine sector must prepare for the necessary adaptations to climate change, the Ministry of Agriculture recently said. The government wants to help create a strategy. The French Viticulture Institute advised winegrowers to grow more climate-resistant vines and to take steps to make viticulture as climate-neutral as possible.

And does all this lead to a booming beer market in France? According to data from the French brewery association “Brasseurs de France”, the French bring up the rear in the EU with a per capita consumption of 33 liters a year, despite an increasing thirst for beer. 70 percent of the beer drunk in France is brewed in the country itself, with craft breweries and microbreweries on the rise. And the gastronomy country of France can come up with regional specialties: the association lists rose and blueberry beers, as well as chicory beers in the north, buckwheat beers in Brittany and chestnut beers in the Ardèche.