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Globalization Within the European Wine Industry: Commercial Challenges but Producer Domination

Andy Smith

The world's wine industry has experienced massive change over the last twenty years, change often ascribed to 'globalization'. Our account of change in the French wine industry differs from this standard narrative in three ways. It shows first that causes of change in this industry's institutional order instead have their roots in political work carried out around policy instruments which concern inter-firm and wholesale-retail arrangements. Our second point of difference concerns the concentration of 'political work' upon the certification and labelling rules which, at least in France, heavily structure inter-frim interaction. Our third and final point argument highlights the political weakness of French merchants and public authority as compared to the strength of growers. This strength continues to be based open the latter's omnipresence throughout the regulation of this industry, as well as their longstanding commitment to reproducing the policy instruments which, until 2000, provided them with high degrees of commercial and political certainty. More generally, we argue that the political backing given to these policy instruments also explains why the EU has yet to institutionalize a common European wine policy designed to promote innovation and market shaping rather than the protection of territorialized rents.

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