Brexit consequences - France's wineries fear for the British market (archive)

Brexit consequences - France's wineries fear for the British market (archive) HomeIn the morning informationFrance's wineries fear for the British market

The longer the uncertainties surrounding Brexit persist, the more difficult it will be for those who trade with the UK to plan. For example for the wineries in Bordeaux that do not want to lose Britain as a market.

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Actually, Sylvie Courselle barely has time to speak to the journalist - a wine dealer who works for a large British customer has announced. An important appointment for the winemaker of Château Thieuley, located around 30 kilometers southeast of Bordeaux. She wants to make sure that she gets rid of as much of her red and white wine as possible before Brexit makes things difficult. But the dealer is late and Courselle can briefly show the large wine tanks and the picturesque casks of their family business.

Sylvie Courselle from the Château Thieuley family estate (Deutschlandradio / Anne Françoise Weber)

Around ten percent of the production from their 80 hectares of vineyards, around 15,000 bottles a year, recently went to Great Britain. Now Courselle, who runs the winery with her sister, notices that her British customers are getting nervous.

“I think there will be a few more orders before Brexit, so as not to be too badly affected by the probably bad exchange rate. The tariffs have not yet been negotiated, and even the English are not sure whether and how they will be introduced. We have very little insight into what will happen in the near future. ”

In recent years, cheaper wines from Australia, New Zealand, Chile or Argentina in Great Britain have pushed back French wine - the share of British customers has also decreased at Courselle; she has long been trying to win new customers elsewhere. Still, she doesn't want to give up the British entirely:

“The British market is a very mature market, people are great connoisseurs and tasters. In any case, our wines must continue to come to this market, which is so important for Bordeaux wines, and be drunk by these customers. We will not turn away from this market, but find compromises. "

Because compared to Germany, for example, the UK is more willing to pay a little more for a bottle of good wine - and white wines that Courselle produces to an extent that is unusual for the area are particularly popular with the British.

A decline in demand for French wines in Great Britain was already observed in 2018, traders in Bordeaux report (dpa / picture alliance / Bonnaud Guillaume)

Now the wine dealer has arrived and is waiting for the tasting - he would rather not comment on the Brexit in an interview, everything is still too unclear, but there is nothing good for him. Goodbye Sylvie Courselle says:

“I am basically concerned about the international and national context, and that's not just Brexit. The uncertainties in 2019 bring with it many questions. We have already observed a drop in alcohol consumption at the end of 2018, little wine was drunk outside the home, we have already felt that. That is why we are not very optimistic for 2019 - but we are trying to make things go up again. ”

Dominique Orain can also tell of lower sales and upcoming uncertainties.

She runs the Tea Cozy boutique in the old town of Bordeaux - a small shop full of teapots, dishes, fabrics and gadgets from Great Britain. The petite woman discovered her love for the big island as a child and turned it into her profession 28 years ago when she opened the boutique. She experienced many changes during this time: While she used to choose the most beautiful dishes for her French customers in large, dusty storage rooms in England, she can now design and order the models herself. Some companies outsourced production to low-wage countries years ago. However, some have brought their factories back to the UK for quality reasons.

And now there is another major change: the Brexit. Dominique Orain expects things to get much more complicated:

“Less rapid negotiations, more administrative tasks, especially the customs formalities. Even if Brexit should happen by March 30th, hardly anything will be ready, that's impossible. There may be some spot checks that didn't exist before. That's probably all for now. "

Dominique Orain, owner of the "Tea cozy" boutique in Bordeaux (Deutschlandradio / Anne Françoise Weber)

Orain often travels to Great Britain to choose her goods and take at least part of them with her in her car. This is likely to become more complicated as of March 30 due to import controls - and more expensive if no trade agreement is concluded and customs duties actually apply to all goods. Orain doesn't know anything about their height. In addition, she expects traffic jams and delays in delivery, even if the port operators claim that this can be avoided:

"No, I don't believe that at all, that's impossible. Freight traffic between Great Britain and France has already been measured, it is enormous what arrives here, be it in Calais or in the other ports. It is impossible that there are no delays. I don't believe that for a second. "

However, Brexit is not the only uncertainty that Orain is facing. She has been closing her shop earlier on Saturdays since mid-November for fear of damage from the yellow vests that demonstrate weekly in Bordeaux. In the beginning she was very worried that her shop windows would be broken, but nothing happened. But Orain realizes that there is just less going on Saturdays before the demonstration.

“In December we had twelve percent less sales - that's a lot because it's an important month for sales. Otherwise I can not assess it yet - I think the effects will be felt all year round. "

She's still going on and trying not to be too pessimistic - but at some point in a few years Orain wants to give up her boutique and go hiking, preferably in Scotland. Brexit will not prevent them from doing so.