New regulations in the German wine law

The draft for a new wine law of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BEMEL) was passed in the Cabinet on August 20, 2020. The amended law is intended to provide the framework for a stronger profile of the origin of wine and could come into force as early as the beginning of 2021. Specific details are regulated by an ordinance, which the Federal Ministry of Agriculture will negotiate with the federal states in the coming weeks.

Focus is on Origin

The German quality wine system is to be further developed, following the Roman model, into one that is based on the geographical origin of a wine. It follows the principle "the smaller the origin, the higher the quality". Each area of origin should therefore stand for a clear profile. This is represented by a pyramid of origin, with "German wine" on the base, then narrowing up to single vineyard wine at the top.

Wine as a reflection of its origin

The most important factor for quality in the future, will be where a wine is grown. The basic idea is that the characteristics of a wine are determined in a particular way by its terroir. The term terroir includes the interplay of many factors such as climate, microclimate, soil conditions, location, slope exposure, as well as the influence of the people growing and producing the wine. Under this premise, the uniqueness of the location should be referenced as the origin of the wine. Since 2019, the German Wine Institute has increasingly focused on the Protected Designations of Origin of the 13 winegrowing areas with an advertising campaign highlighting the regional origins of German wines as well as the people who produce them.

Protected Designations of Origin and Geographical Indications

Wines with a protected geographical indication (PGI), to which today's country wines (‘Landwein’) belong, will no longer be allowed to use place and site names. These should only be reserved for wines with a protected designation of origin (PDO). This includes today's Quality and Prädikat wines, which will be able to use the names of larger geographical regions.

The geographical indication is linked to defined quality characteristics, such as a fixed yield per hectare or minimum alcohol content, nominated grape varieties, particular oenological or harvesting methods or a defined minimum number of points in the Quality wine test.

Limitation on new plantings

With the amended Wine Act and an associated ordinance, plantings of new grapevines are to be limited for the time being, to 0.3 percent of Germany’s total vineyard area per year. In 2019, 103,079 hectares of wine were grown in Germany. Accordingly, a maximum of around 300 hectares of vines may then be replanted annually up to and including the year 2023.

Strengthening of marketing and sales promotion

According to the amended Wine Act, national marketing is to be improved. Therefore, the funds for sales promotion will be increased by 500,000 euros to two million euros.