Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Morocco, with its high mountains and cooling Atlantic influence, has arguably the greatest potential for producing good-quality wine in North Africa. Viticulture, which existed in the Roman era, was probably introduced by Phoenician settlers. But it was the French colonists who brought large-scale wine production so that Morocco played a significant part in the world’s wine trade in the 1950s and 1960s, although it never produced as much sheer quantity as neighbouring algeria. At independence in 1956, Morocco had 55,000 ha/135,850 acres of carefully husbanded vineyard. With the departing French colonists went winemaking expertise, capital, and a large proportion of domestic consumption. This was compounded in 1967 by new EEC (now eu) quotas which literally decimated Morocco’s exports. Frozen out of European markets and faced with stiff competition from other over-producing Mediterranean countries, most producers grubbed up their vineyards and replaced them with cereal crops. Between 1973 and 1984, the great majority of vineyards were taken over by the state, which by 1984 had also established a firm grip on the sale of wine, including grape price-fixing regardless of quality.