- Wine law
Wine laws are
legislationregulating various aspects of production and sales of wine. The purpose of wine laws includes combating wine fraud, by means of regulated protected designations of origin, labelling practices and classification of wine, as well as regulating allowed additives and procedures in winemakingand viticulture.J. Robinson (ed), "The Oxford Companion to Wine", Third Edition, p. 395, Oxford University Press 2006, ISBN 0198609906] Legislation affecting all kinds of alcohol beverages, such as the legal drinking ageand licensing practices related to distribution and sales, are usually not considered wine laws.
Wine is regulated by regional, state, and local laws. The laws and their relative rigidity differ for New World and Old World wines. Old World wines tend to have more stringent regulations than New World wines. [http://winegeeks.com/resources/107 "Wine Regulations: New World Countries." winegeeks.com.] ] Various wine laws, however, may include
appellation-based regulations that cover boundaries as well as permitted grape varieties and winemaking practice-such as the French " Appellation d'origine contrôlée" (AOC), Italian " Denominazione di origine controllata" (DOC), Spanish " Denominación de Origen" (DO) and Portuguese " Denominação de Origem Controlada" (DOC). In some New World wineregions, such as the United States and Australia, the wine laws of the appellation systems ( American Viticultural Area(AVA) and Australian Geographical Indication (GIs)) only pertain to boundary specifics and guaranteeing that a certain percentage of grapes come from the area listed on the wine label.
Some wine laws are established by local governments and are specific to that wine region, such as the 1954
municipaldecree in the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape that banned the overhead flying, landing or taking off of aviationin the commune which could negatively affect the region's vineyards and wine production.K. MacNeil. "The Wine Bible", pg 249. Workman Publishing (2001). ISBN 1563054345] [F. Prial. " [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE0D8173EF937A35752C0A961948260 WINE; Identified Flying Object.] " "The New York Times", January 4, 1987.]
The oldest known wine laws were created by the
Roman emperor Domitian, who circa 92AD issued an edictthat banned the plantings of any new vineyards in Italyand ordered the uprooting of half of the vineyards in Roman provinces. The purpose of the edict was to improve the food supply of Roman cities by increasing the production of cereals. There is evidence to suggest that Domitian's edict was largely ignored in the Roman provinces. Domitian's edict, while probably not followed to any greater extent, stayed in effect for 188 years until Emperor Probusrepealed the measure in 280AD.J. Robinson (ed), "The Oxford Companion to Wine", Third Edition, p. 234, Oxford University Press 2006, ISBN 0198609906]
Holy Roman Empire, the oldest wine law was created by the "Reichstag" 1498to combat wine fraud.
In the wake of the
Great French Wine Blight, which led to much wine fraud to supplement diminishing supply, wine laws were created in Franceto combat fraud. The French wine legislation later evolved to the AOC system, and inspired common European Unionregulations.
Comparative wine laws
European Union(EU), much of the wine law is common to all countries through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Wine Regime. [http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodrin/wine/regime.htm "Cap Regime and Reform." Department for Environmental and Rural Affairs.] ] The CAP Wine Regime consists of a set of rules that govern the winesector, with the aim of achieving a balanced and open market. The principal features are rules governing production, oenological practices and processes, classification of wines, a range of structural and support measures, detailed rules governing the description and labeling of wines, and imports from non-EU countries. [http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodrin/wine/regime.htm "Cap Regime and Reform." Department for Environmental and Rural Affairs.] ]
In addition to regulations that apply to all EU members, each EU country has its own framework of laws which govern aspects of winemaking such as the percentage of a grape to be included in a wine labeled with that variety name. [http://www.cellarnotes.net/whats_in_a_name.html "What's in a Name: Regionals, Varietals, Generics and Proprietaries?." CellarNotes.net.] ] For instance, in France wine professionals acribe to the
Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée(AOC) system, which guarantees the origin of wine and other food products, such as cheese. [http://winegeeks.com/resources/106 "Wine Regulations: Old World Countries." winegeeks.com.] ]
United States, the wine laws are more flexible than European standards in regards to regulations on what viticultural and winemaking practice are allowed in each wine region. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives(BATF) defines and approves applications for regions to become American Viticultural Areas. This system was established in 1978 with the Augusta AVAin Missouri designated as the first recognized AVA on June 20 1980.Code of Federal Regulations [http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/get-cfr.cgi?TITLE=27&PART=9&SECTION=22&TYPE=TEXT Title 27, Volume 1] ALCOHOL, TOBACCO PRODUCTS AND FIREARMS] A sizable portion of American wine laws relate to wine labelling practices and include the stipulations that if an AVA name appears on the label that at least 85% of grapes used to produce the wine must come from that AVA. In addition to AVAs, every American state and county can produce wine and label it under their state/county wide appellation provided at least 75% of the grapes come from that area. The state of California and Texas have wine laws increasing the requirement to 100% and 85%, respectively, for use of a state-wide appellation on the wine label.K. MacNeil. "The Wine Bible", pp. 632-636. Workman Publishing (2001). ISBN 1563054345.]
The appearance of grape variety (or
varietal) and vintageyear is also regulated by US wine labeling laws with requirements of at least 75% for the grape variety and 95% being harvested in that vintage year for either to appear on the wine label. The state of Oregon has increased the restriction for grape variety to 90%, with exception of Cabernet Sauvignonwhich under Oregon wine laws can have a minimum 75%. Additionally, all US wine must include the Surgeon General warning about dangers associated with alcohol consumption and a warning about the possible use of sulfites. Several wineries and importers have had conflicts with the BATF over these labeling requirements, one notable example being the importer Kermit Lynch. The criticism is typically centered on the absence of inclusion about the potential positive aspects of moderate wine consumption (such as the so called " French paradox") and that many wineries are forced to label their wines as "containing sulfites" when the decision to use sulfites are normally not made till long after wine labels have been ordered and the finished wine may contain no sulfites at all.
*"The Washington Post" " [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30969-2004Jul31.html Silly Laws Bottle Up Fine Wine] " August 1, 2004
*"San Francisco Chronicle" " [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/02/20/WI208943.DTL Silly wine laws are all around us] " February 20, 2003
*"The New York Times" " [http://marksquires.com/wine-fp.htm Strange but True Tales From the Annals of Drinking Laws] " March 11, 1998
*UK Food Standards Agency " [http://www.food.gov.uk/foodindustry/winestandards/lawguide A guide to European and UK wine laws] " July 20, 2006
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