A group of 80 French winemakers yesterday (30 May) occupied the Paris headquarters of French regulatory body INAO (Institut national de l'origine et de la qualité) in protest against its reform of wine quality control systems.

For 30 years the quality of French AOC wine has been controlled at source by local wine unions. Reform measures laid down by INAO in November, however, will move quality control to independent tasting bodies, which will randomly taste customer-ready, blended wine, rather than unblended wine from the cellar of the producer.

"We are not against reform, but against the manner and speed of their application," said Michel Issaly, general secretary of VIF (Vignerons Independants de France), which produces half of France's wine and organised the protest.

Issaly admitted the quality of AOC wines had fallen, but said more stringent application of existing regulations would be better than new ones. The INAO has said that the new reforms, originally proposed in November, must be in place by July next year.