Wine fairgoers taste wines of the Burgundy region in Paris on Feb. 10, 2020. Two thousand winemakers — including giant Moet-Hennessy	— are wooing some 30,000 French and international visitors at the Vinexpo fair with a renewed focus on ecology and sustainability as well as tech innovation like robots. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Wine fairgoers taste wines of the Burgundy region in Paris on Feb. 10, 2020. Two thousand winemakers — including giant Moet-Hennessy — are wooing some 30,000 French and international visitors at the Vinexpo fair with a renewed focus on ecology and sustainability as well as tech innovation like robots. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Amid uncertainty, French wine industry puts itself on show

France is with Italy the biggest producer of wine in the world.

By Thomas Adamson / Associated Press

PARIS — France’s big wine industry, shaken by U.S. President Trump’s painful tariff hikes and the threat of climate change, is hoping to re-energize global interest in its products with a big trade fair in Paris.

Two thousand winemakers — including giant Moet-Hennessy — are wooing some 30,000 French and international visitors at the Vinexpo fair through Wednesday with a renewed focus on ecology and sustainability as well as tech innovation like robots.

They hope that shining a light on the industry’s advances, especially in environmental practices, will attract other countries to French wine and make up for the slump in exports to the U.S., where Trump imposed 25% in tariffs on a range of European products.

“Faced with the difficulties we’re encountering with Trump’s taxes, Brexit and the slowdown in China, we must find new markets in third countries by focusing on French excellence,” Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume said.

France is with Italy the biggest producer of wine in the world and has a number of prestigious brands that have helped define the industry — from Champagne makers to producers in the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions.

But it is facing a number of challenges, from tariffs to changing consumer habits and global warming. French sales to the U.S. halved after the tariffs came into effect in October.

The three-day fair is an impressive show, with Moet-Hennessy hosting industry movers and shakers to talk about ecology initiatives. It also unveiled new details on plans to create a 20 million-euro sustainability research center in Champagne, and its commitment to stop all forms of herbicides by the end of this year.

Moet-Hennessy CEO Philippe Schaus struck an upbeat tone despite the U.S. tariffs, which were imposed as part of a broader trade spat between the U.S. and EU over the aerospace industry.

“We hate to be the collateral damage of other topics which do not concern the wine and spirits industry. We believe that tariffs are completely unproductive… It’s damaging to business — both for us and for distributors in the states,” Schaus told The AP.

Among the innovations was a futuristic electric tractor that its makers say reduces the carbon footprint by 23 tons a year when compared with a regular tractor.

Guests also gawped at a massive robot called Ted, which is designed to travel up and down vineyards picking out undesired weeds or rotting leaves and to replace the use of herbicides that hurt biodiversity.

“We already have 20 robots in the field with different partners … and we’re running trials in California next year,” said Thibaut Delcroix, the product manager for Ted at Naio Technologies.

More in Herald Business Journal

Boeing asks that its big state tax break be suspended

The company hopes the move will resolve a trade dispute involving European rival Airbus.

Boeing finds debris in wing fuel tanks of several 737 Maxs

The company did not say what the objects were found, but one report said they included tools and rags.

Charge: Lynnwood tobacco smuggler dodged $1 million in taxes

The man, 57, reportedly dealt in illicit cigarettes. Tax returns claimed he sold hats and T-shirts.

Some dissent emerges on new engineering contract with Boeing

“This is being shoved down our throats,” said one SPEEA council rep.

FAA faces dilemma over 737 Max wiring flaw that Boeing missed

The vulnerability could lead to an emergency similar to the one that brought down two jets.

Everett’s new passenger terminal gets some national love

Paine Field was voted 8th-best among a selection of small airports, some of which aren’t all that small.

United pushes back expected return of grounded Boeing planes

United, Southwest and American are bracing for a second straight summer without their Max planes.

US manufacturing output hit by Boeing troubles, slips 0.1%

Excluding the production of airplanes and parts, factory production rose 0.3%.

Boeing and engineering union agree on new, extended contract

The board of SPEEA will recommend the proposal to its 18,000 members in the Puget Sound area.

Airbus CEO sees no short-term benefit from Boeing Max woes

The European planemaker’s competing A320 is sold out through 2025.

Virus outbreak in China poses a new problem for Boeing

A number of deliveries are ready for Chinese customers who “cannot come to Seattle to take delivery.”

Boeing wins zero orders and delivers just 13 jets in January

Airbus by comparison had a big order month, winning net orders for 274 commercial aircraft.