New wine law: more clarity and a sharper profile

New wine law: more clarity and a sharper profile

The look at the wine label should no longer leave consumers at a loss: federal agriculture minister julia klockner has presented the draft for a new wine law to the cabinet, which is intended to improve the business of german winegrowers and offer wine lovers more orientation.

The CDU politician said in berlin that the core of the project was to raise the profile of the origin of german wines. The wine producers are internationally respected, but have been losing market share in international comparisons for years, and domestic demand is also "rather sluggish.

Among other things, a "pyramid of origins" for wine is to provide a remedy. At the top are wines from individual vineyard sites, at the bottom is country wine from germany, without more precise origin information. The pyramid stands for the principle: "the smaller the origin, the higher the requirement and thus the quality," said klockner, who herself grew up on a vineyard in the rhineland-palatinate wine village of guldental. The idea behind this is that a layer wine expresses in a special way the particularities of a vineyard and its soil, known in the trade as "terroir".

Many winegrowers have already introduced the distinction between layer wine, local wine and estate wine, following the example of the verband deutscher pradikatsweinguter (VDP). The new wine law thus also brings german law into line with the provisions that have been in force in the EU since 2012. This includes the distinction between "protected designations of origin" (g.U.) – which is roughly the association of a place name with the designation of a vineyard site – and the broader "protected geographical indications" (g.G.A.) – this could be the name of a growing region such as the pfalz.

For the final version of the wine ordinance, some points of contention, such as the handling of the so-called coarse layers, are reportedly not yet finally clarified. Coarse vineyards have names that look like a single vineyard site, but comprise completely different vineyards. For example, the mosel wine "piesporter michelsberg" comes from 37 individual vineyards in nine different communities. In the future, the name of the village should no longer appear on wines from such coarse vineyards. The details are still to be clarified in talks with winegrowing associations.

The new wine law, which came into force in december after the conclusion of the parliamentary procedure, also stipulates that new plantings of vines will be limited to 0.3%. In concrete terms, this means that around 300 hectares of vines per year could be added by 2023, explained klockner. This is in the interest of all winegrowers.

In addition, the marketing of german wines is to be improved. France and italy are already making "enormous efforts," the minister said. "Germany is now following suit." From 500.000 euro, the funds for the federal agency for agriculture and food were increased to two million euro. In addition, 37 million euros for the federal states came from an eu pot, which has not yet been used by all the states.

Winegrowing associations in germany are now faced with the task of redefining their specific requirements for quality wines. With the new wine law the general framework is given. Producers can develop specific profiles for their growing areas, including the determination of permitted grape varieties and specifications for hectare yields or residual sugar content. "This will be a relatively complicated matter," expects the president of the rheinhessen winegrowers’ association, ingo steitz.

Protective associations were founded last year to develop profiles for local and regional wines, for example. Previously, this was exclusively the subject of state ordinances. In addition to the winegrowers’ association, the wine cellars and winegrowers’ cooperatives are also represented in the rheinhessen protection association.

"It’s a matter of working out individual qualities," said steitz. Thus, the information on the wine label should correspond to the expected taste image. The requirements for wines with a special label, such as kabinett or spatlese, as well as flavor specifications, such as "dry," are to be developed and defined in the regions.