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Italy's winemakers plan to defy EU label law

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Josephine McKenna - [email protected]
Italy's winemakers plan to defy EU label law
Italian winemakers are planning to defy a new European law demanding they exclude their wine’s particular geographic origins from the label. Photo: Fivi

Italian winemakers are planning to defy a new European law demanding they exclude their wine’s particular geographic origins from the label, arguing that the move will heavily impact businesses already struggling to survive.

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The law is designed to protect producers with high-quality designations, known as DOC or DOCG, and makes it illegal for uncertified producers to put the geographic region where their wine was made on their label, websites or brochures.

The Langhe area, for example, is famous for its wines in the Piedmont region but it is also a name for wines certified as Langhe DOC (denomination of origin), so winemakers without that certification who use the word face hefty fines under the EU regulation.

The Italian Federation of Independent Winemakers (Fivi) said the move, also endorsed by the Italian government, has infuriated its 800 members, adding that it places them at a disadvantage if their wine cannot identify their regional origins and only generates confusion for customers.

Fivi president Matilde Poggi said they would rather face fines than comply with the law. The organization said hundreds of members are to begin a campaign of “civil disobedience” from January 1st.

"It's a strong action but we feel a responsibility to make our voices heard to protect the interests of all Italian winemakers,” Poggi said in a statement.

Poggi said producers were like ambassadors and that Italian wine was like a “message in a bottle” that promoted the landscape and culture of Italy.

Giving an example, Poggi said it was unfair if a Barolo producer was unable to cite the region of Langhe when promoting their wine since the region was known around the world.

She said like “ambassadors” representing their country, winegrowers were committed “to enhance, promote and preserve the landscape” of Italy.

Italy’s wine industry is worth €9.5 billion a year, while exports account for half the country’s production, according to the most recent figures from the farmers’ organization, Coldiretti, in September.

The country has around 200,000 wineries, from tiny family-run enterprises to large commercial estates, and 650,000 hectares of vineyards, of which more than two-thirds produce high quality DOCG or DOC wine.

“It is unacceptable that, once again, the absurd bureaucracy imposes costs on businesses struggling every day to survive,” Poggi said.

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