French winemakers will transform unsold wine into hand sanitizers and ethanol.
Wine sales and exports plunged during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the US. This leaves winemakers with millions of liters of unsold wine.
Didier Josso, head of the wine branch in the farming agency FranceAgriMer, reported in a video press conference in early June to use distilled wines as ethanol.
“From tomorrow (June 5), 33 licensed distillers will be able to collect the wine and distill it,” he said in the conference.
Each winemaker has up until June 19 to indicate the amount he or she wishes to distill.
In return, winemakers will receive 78 euros in compensation if the wine is certified from a recognized region while 58 euros if not.
European public funds will finance the distillation of two million hectoliters of French wine. Past studies show the region needs three million hectoliters for distilling.
Other major wine-producing countries such as Spain and Italy also follow similar measures to regulate excess.
Nevertheless, there is an exception for the destruction of young grapevines.
It is another bad year for the French wine industry, as it has suffered a setback last year from the drop of exports due to the US punitive tariffs.