July 29, 2021

In Belle-Ile-en-Mer, the vines of anger

By Benjamin Keltz

Posted today at 09:46, updated at 17:23

Straight ahead, we can see the curves of the Quiberon peninsula (Morbihan). Behind, the Kerdonis semaphore stands on the heights of the wild coast of Belle-Ile-en-Mer (Morbihan). The small lighthouse overlooks a beach with golden sand and translucent water, when the sun is shining, as on this Wednesday, May 26 afternoon. A Breton postcard view. Bertrand Malossi, director of the Vallongue estate in the Bouches-du-Rhône, keeps his eyes on this hectare of land spread out in front of him: “If there is a great red wine to be produced on Belle-Ile, it is definitely on this plot. “ Under the thick layer of bramble and moor, the forty-something is convinced to find schist soil, ideally exposed and sufficiently sheltered from the wind to cultivate 5,000 vines.

Bertrand Malossi convinced his boss, billionaire Christian Latouche, founder and CEO of Fiducial and owner of the island of Boëdic in the neighboring Gulf of Morbihan, to acquire this hectare of wasteland and eleven others to develop an organic estate called ” The Vines of Kerdonis ”. At a time of global warming, the manager is not the first to believe in the Breton wine potential, which has hitherto been untapped. In recent years, attempts have multiplied, arousing enthusiasm in the region. While the first plants have been planted on one of the plots in recent weeks, the Bellilois project faces headwinds and divides the island.

First vines planted in Bangor in Belle-Île-en-Mer on May 30, 2021.

For several months, associations have been calling for its abandonment. Published on May 11, an online petition entitled “No to the privatization of the wild coast of Belle-Ile-en-Mer” has collected more than 38,000 signatures. This is seven times the number of inhabitants recorded on this ancient volcano 17 kilometers long and 9 km wide. Gilles Smadja, chief of staff at the town hall of Nanterre and owner of a house located near one of the land for future exploitation, orchestrates the sling. Its association of around fifty members, La Bruyère vagabonde, denounces the establishment of vines in Natura 2000 areas or in classified sites.

“Accusations, lies, misunderstandings”

This “Damage to biodiversity” would also lead to “Disfigurement” of the landscape, according to the collective, which fears the development of intensive agriculture. “We are not inventing anything. All this is recorded in the files submitted by the project leader ”, insists Mr. Smadja citing in particular one of the first documents dating from December 2017 produced by the promoter.

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