In the early Third Republic, southern wine producers in the Aude confronted a new competitor: Algerian wine. This article explores Audois efforts to curtail Algerian wine production in the aftermath of phylloxera, the wine crisis, and the 1907 strikes. Focusing on the actions of the Confédération générale des vignerons, this article shows how local winegrowers transformed the Algerian wine industry into a symbol of industrial, profit-driven agriculture and global integration. Cast as a civilizational struggle that pitted “French” traditions and cultural practices against the unsavory and immoral habits of colonial competitors, the fight against Algerian wine provided southern wine growers with a way to distinguish and add value to their own wines. The result was a new myth of southern viticulture that, despite hybridized vines and industrial production methods, recast the Midi as the guardian of true “French” agricultural production and a rural culture based on age-old traditions and a moral economy.
Elizabeth Heath is an assistant professor of history at Baruch College-CUNY. She is the author of Wine, Sugar, and the Making of Modern France: Global Crisis and the Racialization of French Citizenship, which received the Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize from the French Colonial Historical Society in 2015. She is currently working on a new project that explores the role that empire and colonial commerce played in shaping modern French economic, cultural, and social life. E-mail: Elizabeth.Heath@baruch.cuny.edu