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...Start ...Main practice areas ...Wine law
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German Wine law - Horak Attorneys at Law- Hanover/Munich/Vienna

“Wine Law” can be classified as a sub-area of German Food Law. However, while Food Law is the legal framework for all foodstuffs, there are food-specific particular provisions that complement the general Act on Foodstuffs and Goods in many aspects. The special Wine Law deals with wine cultivation, wine processing, wine distribution and wine import/export (wine trade) matters. Important parts of Wine Law are already regulated at a European Level, and their implementation can be found in the relative Wine Act or in the German Wine Regulation (so-called Weinverordnung in the German legislation). Apart from this particular Wine Regulation and the more general German Food Law however, numerous other rights influenced by the law of wine are also really important in Germany. Marketing matters, labelling requirements or general advertising rights are typical aspects of the German Wine Law. This applies to general labelling requirements as well as to Purchasing Law, Distribution Law, Competition Law, Trademark Law and the debt collection of outstanding receivables.

Wine law in Germany

In 13 viticulture areas on the banks of the Rhine and its effluents, an average of 9.5 million hectolitres of wine is produced per year on 100.000 hectares of vineyards. White wines varieties are grown on about 65 percent of the area, 35 percent are planted with red wine varieties. With approximately 25000 hectares, Germany has the largest Riesling area in the world.

Not only the wine production plays an important role in Germany, the wine market is also particularly extensive. A total of around 20 million hectolitres of wine are consumed each year. Of these, 13 million hectolitres are foreign products. This makes Germany the largest wine importer in the world.

Before the creation of a vineyard, it is fundamental to observe the regulations on wine growing as well as the replanting and the associated planting laws. In addition to the German Wine Law, leasing provisions can be superimposed here with short periods of limitation.

PDO Wine and the Wine Market

The so-called protected wines are regulated by the public administration. EU-protected designations of origin are also included in the protected wines.

German wines come from several hectares used for the production of protected wine, particularly for surfaces outside the cultivation area. The wine industry predicts an increase in the production of simple wines and processed wines.

According to EU-Law, the Member States authorize the replanting of one percent of the total area of the grapevines planted on the 31th of July of the previous year.

The Member States can decide to set a lower percentage at national and/or regional level in the event of an objective evidence of thread of oversupplying or in case of an objective evidence of depreciation.

Member States may set a lower percentage at national and / or regional level in the event of a verifiable threat of overpayment or a proven imminent reduction in the value of wines with a protection of origin

European Wine law

In the European Union, the relevant provisions regarding wine-trading with third countries are comprised in the following regulations:

  • Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007
  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 555/2008 of 27 June 2008 laying down detailed rules for implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 on the common organisation of the market in wine as regards support programmes, trade with third countries, production potential and on controls in the wine sector.

Legal framework of the wine production

Wine is a particular product and needs to be produced in a proper and correct manner. In order to do so, the production of wine is regulated by various regulations, such as:

  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 606/2009 of 10 July 2009 laying down certain detailed rules for implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 as regards the categories of grapevine products, oenological practices and the applicable restrictions.

Legal framework of wine labelling

Wine has to be correctly labelled:

  • Commission regulation (EC) No 607/2009 of 14 July 2009 laying down certain detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 as regards protected designations of origin and geographical indications, traditional terms, labelling and presentation of certain wine sector products.

Legal framework of wine transportation

If you are transporting wine – exceptions apart – an accompanying document will be necessary. Please check:

  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 436/2009 of 26 May 2009 laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 as regards the vineyard register, compulsory declarations and the gathering of information to monitor the wine market, the documents accompanying consignments of wine products and the wine sector registers to be kept.

Legal framework of wine importation

In case of wine importation, a confirmation of the third country concerning the marketability of the wine and a certificate of analysis are required. The list of the official bodies and laboratories authorized by the third countries to issue the documents required for each wine export to the Community can be found at

Exceptions can be made in case of import of small quantities of wine, for instance in a private luggage, or for a fair trade (see VO 555/2008). 

In accordance with Article 32 of the Wine Monitoring Ordinance, the authorization to import wine into Germany is granted only if an official investigation and examination in the national territory establishes that the products and the their containers are made within the contest of their intended purpose, and their designation and presentation comply with the European Community Legislation on wine.

For further questions in regard to this topic, please refer to the closest office responsible for wines´ handling in your town.

Our lawyers and the legislation on wine: our activities

  • Current designation legislation (such as the designation of origin, indication of origin, protected geographical indications,  protected designation of origin, verification of products performance or specification);
  • Wine labelling requirements ( such as presentation, labelling, indication for designation of wine, misleading and protection from fraud);
  • Request for protection of names as indication of origins or geographical indications;
  • Utilization of location names;
  • Oenological manufacture stipulations;
  • Yield per hectares regulation;
  • Excess quantities;
  • Distillation process;
  • Wine- quality control;
  • National, European and international marketing rules (with Japan);
  • EU planting regulation;
  • Wine-subsidy law;
  • Official supervision and control of wine and viticulture;
  • Wine marketing;
  • General prohibition of wine handling;
  • Complaints and investigation proceedings on wine inspections;
  • Penal Law applied on the wine legislation;
  • Wine legislation on regulatory offences matters;
  • Administrative procedures;
  • Grapevines replanting authorizations;
  • Land consolidation and reorganization of property;
  • Wine transportation and delivery etc.

In the case of legal wine-matters, our clients are:

  • Winemakers and wineries,
  • Wine producers,
  • Champagne producers,
  • Associations and organizations of the wine industry,
  • Wine dealers,
  • Spirits manufacturer,
  • Importers and exporters of wine and spirits.

International Harmonisation of the Wine Legislation

An important organization – the so-called OIV – is in charge of the international legislation on wine. The OIV is an intergovernmental federation founded on the 24th of November 1924 by an International Office –composed of Spain, France, Greek, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg, Portugal, and Tunisia– for Wine and Vine in Paris. In 2001 the organization has been reorganized. The OIV has currently 46 member states, of which 21 are members of the EU. With the exception of the US, all major wine-growing plants are represented. In addition, 10 international commercial and scientific organizations have the formal observers’ status. The European Union itself has a special observe status.

 The OIV is the world´s most important reference organization for the wine sector. With the aim of an international harmonization, the OIV devises and adopts the OIV recommendations (“resolutions”) on the definition, production, processing, analysis and labelling in the area of vine, wine and other spirits such as liqueur wine or wine brandy and other products derivate from the vine. The economic and statistical work of the OIV on international viticulture (cultivation areas, production, trade and consumption) is also an important source of information for the member countries, on the basis of these above-mentioned, fundamental decisions could be taken


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© German lawyer Michael Horak 2002-2018

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