State intervention in wine markets and collective action in France and Spain during the early twentieth century
In the early twentieth century winegrowersin Europe faced a crisis of overproduction, with steeply falling prices and sharp increases in wages and production costs. Since the markets showed no signs of correcting themselves, the winegrowers called for state intervention. In the major wine producing countries such as France and Spain, large winegrowers’ associations were created which lobbied their governments to regulate domestic wine markets through tariffs, quality controls, the creation of regional appellations and bodies investigating fraud in winemaking, and also promoted other measures to increase the consumption of unadulterated wine. However, while winegrowers in France were highly successful in obtaining government support to protect their market interests, in Spain the legislation introduced was much more eclectic; it aimed to satisfy on the one hand the winegrowers and on the other the alcohol producers, wine merchants and exporters, even though the interests of these groups often clashed head on. This paper aims to explain the differences in state intervention and wine market regulation in these two major producer countries in the early twentieth century, by analysing the particular features of their markets and productive systems in the aftermath of the phylloxera plague, as well as the winegrowers’ collective action and the political framework in each country.
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