POLICE stepped in to break up a violent demo in Montpellier last night as Languedoc wine producers gathered to protest at falling revenues and a claimed lack of financial help.
Between 3,500 and 10,000 viticulteurs assembled in the city centre to make their case for more state aid. Unions say producers' turnover in 2008 was down by as much as 85% on the previous year.
Two supermarkets and a bank in Montpellier had their windows smashed. Police used tear gas to overcome the protestors, some of whom were throwing bottles and stones, and two people were arrested.
"Economically, we are dead," producers' union president Philippe Vergnes told France 2. "Since 2004, the wine industry has been facing the worst crisis in its history." He said winemakers felt "in total disarray" and "abandoned".