England/Wales: Wine receives geographical recognition

05 October, 2010

The United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) has unveiled new wine schemes for English and Welsh still wines, in line with the wine regime changes implemented by the EU.  A new wine scheme for sparkling wines will be introduced later this year.

UK wine labelling will be modified to the new EU wine labelling regime, which introduces the terms ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ (PDO) and ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ (PGI), and will become operational for wines produced from this year’s harvest.

The UK has had a 'quality' and 'regional' wine scheme in place since 1992 and the new PDO/PGI schemes have evolved from these.  For the first time, however, a scheme is being introduced for English and Welsh quality sparkling wines.

The main purpose of the schemes is to deliver assurance to the consumer that wines are produced to required standards and reflect the specific characteristics attributable to the wine’s geographical origin.   

There are two registered PDOs and PGIs for wine and quality sparkling wine in the UK: “England” and “Wales”.

The two new terms are defined as follows:

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) denotes

• Quality and characteristics that are essentially or exclusively attributable to the geographical environment in which it is produced

• The grapes have been grown exclusively in the defined region (ie England/Wales) and are only of the Vitis Vinifera genus  

• The production of the wine takes place in the defined region (England/Wales)

Wines will be labelled English (or Welsh) Quality Wine.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)

• Wines produced under this scheme must possess a specific quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to the geographical origin

• At least 85% of grapes used for its production have been grown in the defined region (ie England/Wales), with the rest from the UK, and are of the Vitis Vinifera genus or a cross of Vitis Vinifera and another genus of Vitis (therefore allowing hybrid varieties such as Seyval Blanc)

• The production of the wine takes place in the named area (England/Wales)

Wines will be labelled English (or Welsh) Regional Wine

Only wines and quality sparkling wines that have passed through the appropriate wine scheme are permitted to indicate vineyard name.

In order to gain PDO and PGI status wines are required to pass independent analytical and organoleptic assessments after the wine has been bottled. Quality standards in production in both the vineyard and winery will be monitored by The Wine Standards Branch (Food Standards Agency) which will evaluate and check that producers meet the range of criteria including vineyard cropping levels, wine making standards and facilities. All successful wines will be listed on the UKVA website, www.ukva.org.uk

In time, PDO and PGI wines will be permitted to include the EU’s symbols for these schemes on their labels (such is found on other PDO/PGI food/drink products produced in the EU).

Producers that opt out of putting their wines through the scheme may use the term ‘English (or Welsh) Wine’ on the label but other information is restricted; for example vineyard location cannot be included.  The term “Table wine” has now disappeared.

Ian Edwards, chairman of the UKVA, said: “These new schemes will serve to convey the right message to trade and consumer buyers.

“When bottles bear the simple statement ‘English Quality Wine’ or ‘English Regional Wine’ (with the same reference for Welsh wines), consumers will be assured that every possible measure has been taken to ensure the wine is of good quality and made from grapes grown in England or Wales.”

The UKVA has been working with Defra to ensure effective execution of the PDO/PGI schemes for English and Welsh wines.  Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice said:  “English wine is increasingly making a name for itself as a discerning choice for people who love wine.  Consumers buying English wine will now be able to be reassured that they’re buying a quality product.”

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