Terror and terroir

The winegrowers of the Languedoc and modern France

This book investigates the Comité Régional d'Action Viticole (CRAV), a loose affiliation of militant winegrowers in the southern vineyards of the Languedoc. Since 1961, they have fought to protect their livelihood. Using guerrilla style military tactics, the CRAV has surfaced to mobilise the aspirations of Languedocian winegrowers at moments of specific economic and social crisis throughout the twentieth century. They were responsible for sabotage, bombings, hijackings and even the shooting of a policeman. In French history more broadly, 1907 remains a strange moment, with the left supporting a seemingly anti-Jacobin uprising, Socialists, Monarchists and anti-Dreyfusards voting in unison, and the hero of the revolt eventually forsaken by his own movement. 1907 was the founding myth of viti-cultural radicalism in the Languedoc. The 1953 crisis had a transformative effect on the Languedocian wine industry, drawing cooperatives towards increased production despite government inducements to improve quality. After the tumultuous summer of 1961, the CRAV was clearly on its way to becoming a prominent force in the winegrowing Languedoc. The interaction of Oc and vine illustrates the Régional narrative which developed throughout the twentieth century. In the decade after 1976, the compact between winegrowers, local elites and the Socialist party in the Midi slowly disintegrated as a new development strategy supplanted the Défense movement's rebellious appeal. The CRAV's history ends in 1992 with the condemnation of CRAV activists as 'terrorists' by Colonel Weber.

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‘This volume provides a highly original and welcome contribution to the burgeoning literature devoted to the concept of terroir across the disciplines, spanning history, geography and anthropology […] It will become a must read in the literature on terroir.'
Marion Demossier, University of Southampton
H-France Review, Volume 18, No. 74
2018

‘Smith is particularly good at his economic analysis, enriched as it is by his strong knowledge of wine and winemaking (he is also the author of The Wine Pocket Bible). His narrative of wine syndicalism occasionally becomes very crowded with names and acronyms, but he effectively uses CRAV to show the complicated interplay of regional identities, national politics and European integration on French winemaking in the second half of the twentieth century.'’
Andrew S. Tomkins
French History
December 2018

‘Smith’s prose is clear; he gives enough context to make the debates accessible even to a non-specialist in French history or the history of wine production... His punctilious use of sources from regional and national archives, local newspapers, and even oral histories reveals that the CRAV’s struggle was not revolutionary or anti-statist... The true value of Smith’s narrative is perhaps the articulation of a powerful counter-argument to the mythology of terroir.’
Zachary Nowak
The Journal of Wine Economics

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