Edited by Dev S. Gangjee
Chapter 2: French collective wine branding in the nineteenth–twentieth centuries
The set of rules adopted since 1935 defining wine collective labels in France has been a formidable institutional tool to regulate the economic activity of a group of producers. For decades, the winegrowers and merchants of Bordeaux and Champagne were to be protected not only from foreign counterfeiting but also from the temptations of some among them to make unilateral changes in production techniques or simply to cheat. This explains the desire of producers from other regions and of other products to benefit from the same advantages, which led to the multiplication of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) labels during the second half of the twentieth century. But if collective designation protection has such strong positive effects, then why did French producers endure discussions on this topic over almost a century and a half (since the revolution up through the mid-twentieth century)? And why are these labels not more widely adopted outside Europe? Furthermore, AOCs are said to express consumers’ desires for ‘traditions’ in winemaking; as such, collective designations will preserve local know-how against globalisation. If this is so, why were AOCs defined well before the current wave of globalisation and, above all, why did local producers disagree for so long over the meaning of ‘traditions’?
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