When you Google’d French wine a few months go – or even a year ago – chances are you’d get an article about Sancerre, a review of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or a link to Veuve Clicquot. That’s not the case anymore: tariffs are everywhere.
While it doesn’t just affect France (Italy, Spain…most of the EU will suffer in one way or another) and wine (say goodbye to affordable French butters, cheeses, and olive oils), Trump’s uncomfortable relationship with President Macron, coupled with France’s strict anti-trust laws, digital service taxes, and competing airplane manufacturing industry all play a part in the creation of these tariffs.
As someone who’s shook Macron’s hand, spent three years in France, and has devoted a great deal of her career to advancing Franco-American cultural ties, you can imagine the heartbreak I felt when I realized this ridiculous trade war would reverse the efforts I’ve tried to make on this blog – and the efforts hundreds of American entrepreneurs and businesspeople have spent their careers advancing.
I started this whole darn thing for two groups of people.
Group 1: You. The English speaker reading this, following me to learn, discovering that there is so much more to French wine than overpriced Champagne, monopoly producers in Beaujolais, and right bank Bordeaux that costs half your paycheck. For years, you might have thought that you couldn’t afford French wine, or that you were afraid to pronounce the label, or that you just didn’t understand what was going on in that beautiful little bottle. I started my page for you. I was on a mission to show that you could get an exceptional bottle of French wine for under $15, that Malbec doesn’t just come from Argentina, that the Loire Valley has 51 other appellations besides Sancerre. My platform was created with the everyday American in mind, the kind who can’t spend $50 on premier cru every week or every month. You deserve to experience French wine and culture as much as the 1% who can jet off to Europe on first class tickets and buy a $300 wine bottle at the drop of a hat.
Group 2: The French producer in the heart of the Sud Ouest with 10 hectares of land to his name. The winemaker in Loire who is transitioning her vineyards to 100% biodynamic. The cooperatives in Bourgogne who are showing the world that there is beauty in tradition – and affordability too. There are hundreds of thousands of small producers in France making exceptional wines and exporting them to the United States who have no voice. They’re small teams of winemakers – many of them families – without digital marketing teams to create influencer campaigns or the bandwidth to launch an Instagram handle. I started my page to speak on their behalf. They needed to speak to American consumers in a voice that was familiar to both them and the average American.
Yes, I speak French, yes I have been a Francophile all my life – but I was born here, in the United States, raised by blue collar Americans who do not speak a second language. I am one of you.
So these tariffs hit home.
Here’s the thing about the tariffs, though. French wine has been through much, much worse. A staple on tables around the world for centuries, wines from France survived Napoleonic land grabs, Nazi invasions, and Napa wannabes. There is a reason your favorite American wines use French grapes, called “Rhône” and “Bordeaux Blends”, and why Mondavi (so annoyingly – and unlawfully) coined the term “California Champagne”. French wine will prevail.
There’s a lot you can do to help it through. Look beyond Whispering Angel, Jadot, Duboeuf, and Dom Pérignon. Accept that you will be paying more for your favorite wines and know that they are still worth every penny. I’ll be here, showing you great French wines that won’t hurt your wallet – even with the price hikes.
If there’s one thing I ask, it’s this. Don’t stop buying French wine. Don’t let Trump get to you. It’s not about him, or global trade, or even your local restaurant. It’s about the farmers who grow the grapes at a small vineyard in Chablis. It’s about the winemakers working 16 hour days at a Languedoc cooperative. It’s about them and it’s about us. We’re the ones who pay the most with the tariff, and that sucks. All we can do is continue to support one another.
I’m game. I ain’t putting down my Bourgogne. Are you?