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French wines unfazed

Matt Zalaznick

That appears to be besides the point, however, as French wines and other products have become the economic targets of some Americans who are fed up with France for not supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

“Some of our fine French wine drinkers are now switching to Australian,” says Tom Domenico, owner of Pier 13 Liquors in Eagle-Vail. “I had one gentlemen say, “Why should I back them up if they’re not backing us up?'”

Australia, coincidentally or not, is one of the few countries that has sent troops to fight in Iraq. But any backlash against French wine in the valley appears to be sporadic.

“The wine will endure’

“We’re still rocking and rolling with French wines,” says Cary Hogan, an owner of Avon Liquors. “We haven’t seen a drop in sales.”

Politics, Hogan says, does not influence connoisseurs.

“This will pass – French wines last a lot longer than wars and personality conflicts,” Hogan says. “The wine will endure.

“The beautiful thing about wine,” she adds, “it’s not political. If you’re a true wine person, you’re not political.”

The customers boycotting French wines were probably not fans of the stuff before the relationship between the Bush Administration and France soured, she says.

“Here, someone who comes into the wine room and says “I’m not buying French wine,’ I think those people never buy French wine –they’re just posturing,” Hogan says. “But I haven’t seen anybody dumping it in the streets.”

All talk; no action

David Courtney, co-owner of Beaver Liquors in Avon, says if there is a boycott, it’s more talk than action.

“This is what I’ve noticed – a lot of people who don’t know what’s going on say they’re not buying French wines to be fashionable,” Courtney says. “Another guy, who bought six cases of Bordeaux, said he wanted to buy as much French wine as he possibly could, so the French didn’t have any to drink.”

Mickey Werner, a managing partner at Alpine Wine and Spirits inside the West Vail City Market, says spurning French wine is not a very effective boycott. In other words, he says, it’s not hurting French wineries.

“By not buying French wine, it puts people here out of work who sell the stuff,” Werner says. “There are other ways to make a statement. I would say don’t spend your money there.”

Locals vs. tourists

But Werner says he hasn’t noticed a significant drop in French wine sales.

“A few people are talking about it – mostly, tourists,” Werner says. “I’ll be curious to see what happens in the next couple of weeks when more locals are buying wine.”

But is buying French wine a show of opposition to the war? Liquor store owners didn’t try to guess, but Hogan says there’s no doubt the French make exceptional wines.

“I’m a peaceful person,” she says. “I’ll continue to buy French wine.”

The drop in French wine sales at Pier 13 hasn’t hurt the store, Domenico says.

“As long as they buy something,” Domenico says. “People are still buying wine – it just might be from another country.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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