April 2024 International Organisation of Vine and Wine meetings

Our Director, Strategy & International Affairs, Damien Griffante has this month been representing the Australian wine sector at the OIV – International Organisation of Vine and Wine technical meeting in Dijon and World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) in Brussels. Australian Grape & Wine continues to advocate for international trade harmonization and the reduction of technical barriers to trade.

We engage in these international forums as they are critical for influencing international trade and seeking to harmonise global wine regulation by seeking to align, where possible, regulation with our own in order to reduce cost and barriers for Australian exports.  

International Organisation of Vine & Wine

OIV is an intergovernmental organisation which supports grape and wine producing and consuming countries with guidance and information to develop regulations, minimise barriers to trade, promote sustainable production and protect consumers. Vine and wine industry experts contribute on behalf of their member governments to progress OIV outcomes through four commissions; viticulture and table grapes (I), Oenology and methods of analysis (II), Economics and Law (III) and Health and Safety (IV). The OIV technical meetings commenced on 2 April 2024 and had been condensed into an intensive week and a half of concurrent commission expert meetings.

Some important meeting outcomes included:

  • Ingredient Labelling: Progress was made on a key resolution pertaining to nutrition and ingredient labelling including acceptance that these may be applied on a voluntary basis and that they can include a language free option for e-labelling in the current text. In addition there was a presentation on common values for nutritional information from French scientific authorities. This work will be aligned with other similar work undertaken by AWRI to ensure that energy and nutritional calculations for wine are consistent with a number of countries including Australia currently implementing or considering such regulation.   
  • Grape Varietal Labelling: Agreement on amendments for a resolution regarding wine grape varietal labelling – There was agreement to amend the resolution to allow grape varietal blending rules that are aligned with Australia’s rules for multi-varietal blends (allowing labelling of blends of 85% in descending order). This amendment has been a longstanding point of contention with significant disagreement on a globally acceptable position.  
  • Health Warning Labelling: With significant focus on aspects of alcohol health warnings occurring globally, the OIV through its health and safety expert group has been considering guidance on “Health Warning Labels”.  At these meetings it was determined that following the feedback received by experts that the resolution would be amended to focus on the “Health information” relevant to alcohol and that this would then be referred to the Economy and Law expert group to consider the form of such information provision to consumers.  
  • OIV Grape Variety List and Database: A side meeting was called by the Director General for select experts to discuss the OIV Grape Variety list and the Vine Varieties Database. These are critical aspects of trade as they list varietals which are available in different countries. These OIV references are also cited within a number of EU trade agreements with third countries. There was agreement to update the reference material with a simplified approach and further clarification of headings and processes used.  
  • E-working group: Following a major OIV trade forum in 2023, an e-working group was formed at these meetings to deliver on the next steps including establishing tools, information sharing and elements of training and education. Damien Griffante is a member of the e-working group.
  • Geographic Indication (GI) regulations: There was also a presentation on the European Union’s new Geographic Indication (GI) regulations. The regulation extends powers to the EU producer organisations in order to provide greater ownership of their GIs. It further extends protection beyond current protection for URLs and website addresses.
  • OIV Strategic Plan: The new OIV Director General Dr John Barker from New Zealand presented a draft of the organisations strategic plan for 2025-2029 including alignment of OIV operational and scientific priorities. Another key aspect includes intention to implement a new trade expert group within the commissions.  

World Wine Trade Group

WWTG meetings were held on 15 and 16 April in Brussels lead by current Chair Georgia. WWTG is an industry government partnership that aims to facilitate international trade in wine through information sharing, discussion of regulatory issues and joint action to remove barriers. Damien Griffante acts as industry Chair of the WWTG trade barriers working group and Wine Australia (Ned Hewitson) act as government Chair of the sustainability working group.

Key outcomes from these meetings included:

  • EU nutrition and ingredient labelling requirements: A presentation for the European commission on the current EU nutrition and ingredient labelling requirements. This allowed for a number of governments to raised questions and concerns with the EU around implementation of the measures and in particular differing interpretations of the regulation by EU members states.
  • Interpretation of new regulations: It was agreed that WWTG member countries would share and compile a list through the trade barriers working group that would outline issues and inconsistencies of interpretation of the new regulations by EU member states. This would then be raised with the EU to seek to ensure consistent interpretation of EU member states or differing ports of entry.   
  • Sustainability matrix: Agreement was reached to progress a sustainability matrix of member countries that may in future be utilised to highlight national sustainability effort such as Sustainable Winegrowing Australia and to seek further recognition of such national efforts.  

As part of the regular cycle of the group, Australia will assume the role of Chair of the WWTG at the beginning of June and will host the next meetings in Adelaide in late October 2024.  

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