Zut alors: World's oldest wine club The Wine Society provokes backlash from cancelling "booze cruises" as it closes down French showroom

Francesca Washtell
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The Wine Society has around 120,000 members (Source: Getty)

The Wine Society has been caught in a storm of backlash after closing its showroom in France without proper consultation with members, who will now not be able to go on cross-Channel "booze cruises".

Members of the world's oldest wine club were left fuming after the society announced earlier this year that it would be closing its French base in Montreuil, which is close to Calais, and took to the website to complain in droves.

“What a huge disappointment to so many of us who use the Montreuil shop,” member Ian Skelton wrote. “A day trip or an overnight stay in Montreuil have been part of our annual calendar for some time.”

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The 120,000-strong society cited several reasons for the showroom closure, including a fall in the number of people making the trip (3,500 visitors in the last year compared to 4,700 a decade ago, the Telegraph reported) and a "substantial increase in rent" that left it unable to commit to a new nine-year lease.

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In a statement last week, the society's chief executive Robin McMillan said the committee had not consulted with members on the closure "as it is the committee that is elected by the membership to take decisions of this type on members' behalf".

While hopping across the Channel may have been part of the Wine Society's stalwart activities until now, the seemingly unstoppable rise of the English wine industry could give members reason to stay in the UK and drink at home.

Read more: Gin and wine sales sparkle as boozy Brits prop up the bar

Almost 40 new wine producers and vineyards opened over 2015.

In addition, price hikes in Burgundy wines from this year's vintage could drive a price hike in the market in the coming couple of years after extreme weather scuppered yields.

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