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Alexandre Fischer

09.04.2021 – EVA HIRSCHI

Alexandre Fischer is an angry man. In 2019, the 37-year-old vintner from Yens-sur-Morges in the canton of Vaud founded Les Raisins de la Colère (The Grapes of Wrath), a protest movement of which he has become the most vociferous figure. This group of around 400 vintners from French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino have rallied in front of the Federal Palace, lobbied the economics minister and former vigneron Guy Parmelin, and vented their spleen on social media. The reason for their fury? Swiss growers are unable to shift stock despite bumper crops. Fischer, who grew up in a winegrowing family and works as a cellar master, knows all about the difficulties facing his industry: Swiss wine accounts for a mere 37 per cent of market share, with domestic producers unable to compete with cheap wine from abroad. Closed restaurants and cancelled trade fairs during the Covid-19 pandemic have brought the situation to a head. Fischer therefore wants action from the government, e.g. import restrictions (unrealistic) and restrictions on shopping tourism in neighbouring countries (not very realistic either). He and fellow growers also want a state-funded promotional push as well as stricter requirements for foreign organic wines. Their cause has been the subject of regular lobbying in Berne, but all motions to bail out winegrowers have failed thus far. So the group continue to protest, although their initial wrath has abated somewhat, says Fischer: “Now we want to be constructive.” A popular initiative is in the offing. There is a good chance that voters will support it. Campaign linchpin Fischer was, at any rate, voted person of the year 2020 by readers of the newspaper “24 heures”.

In-depth Swissinfo report from Eva Hirschi on the plight of vignerons in French-speaking Switzerland: in German | in French