European wine industry to be reformed

The European Commission has approved a list of proposals designed to improve practices in the European wine industry.

Under the new Common Market Organisation for wine, grape growers will be offered a voluntary subsidy to grub up vines to help end Europe’s wine glut and the current planting restrictions will be extended to 2013.

Crisis distillation and chaptalisation - the method of adding sugar to wine to enrich it - have both been banned under the new rules and winemakers wishing to introduce new or modified oenological practices will have to gain approval from the Commission first.

Rules on labelling have been overhauled to make labels easier for consumers to understand. When the reforms are implemented, wine produced in the EU from a specific region will be divided into two categories - wines with protected geographical indications and those with protected designation of origin.

For the first time wine without geographical indications will be allowed to state the variety and vintage on the label.

The reforms, announced today by the Commission, are expected to make better use of the EU’s €1.3 billion budget by increasing the competitiveness of EU producers, winning back consumers and balancing out supply and demand while also preserving European wine-making traditions.

The proposals will now be subjected to fine tuning by officials of the EU's member states with some measures expected to come into force in 2008 and others to be phased in from 2013.