On 28 November the Italian Chamber of Deputies finally approved the Consolidated Text on Wine (Disciplina organica della coltivazione della vite e della produzione e del commercio del vino – Rules and regulations for viticulture and for wine manufacturing and marketing). The Consolidated Text harmonizes 90 articles of non-homogeneous complex rules which currently regulate the sector into a single act. The act will now be examined by the Senate and will soon become a law of the Italian State.

The Act introduces an effective tool to simplify all aspects of the winemaking industry. The rules concern the manufacturing, marketing, designation of origin, geographical indications, labelling and presentation, operation, controls, and sanctioning regime.

Article 1 of the law officially declares wine as Italian environmental, cultural and landscape heritage. The most significant aspects include:

  • establishing the rules concerning the protection of wine-growing patrimony, stating that only grapevine varieties enlisted in the national register of grape varieties and classified for the respective administrative areas as suitable can be planted, re-planted or grafted;
  • the institution at the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy (Mipaaf) of a register with the updated details as to the productive potential, where each unit suitable for the wine grape production shall be registered;
  • the faculty for protected designation of origin (PDO, or DOP in Italian) and protected geographical indication (PGI, or IGP in Italian) wines to indicate designation of origin in the form of a label, upon authorization of the Mipaaf in agreement with the competent region;
  • the inclusion of a rule for the protection of historical vineyards aimed at promoting interventions for their restoration, renovation and preservation particularly in areas subject to hydrogeological disruption or which are of particular landscape value; 
  • regulation of wine-tourism, concerning the reception and accommodation of tourists at vineyards and wineries;
  • the possibility to have a labelling information system exploitable by consumers with new technologies to improve transparency;
  • simplifications for notifications to the Central Inspectorate for Quality Protection and fraud repression (ICQRF) in respect of wine manufacturing plants.

The Consolidated Text also simplifies the system of controls through the provision of the principle of linking between the various authorities involved in controls (at date, around 20 entities are involved in checks) and the convergence of all controls on wine companies in the Single registry of controls (RUCI).

Changes also concern the sanctioning system with the introduction of a kind of voluntary disclosure for firms incurring formal breaches, provided that a procedure by the control entity has not yet started, to rectify the irregularities with the payment of a pecuniary fine instead of the penalty currently provided.

Finally, rules concerning the manufacturing and marketing of vinegars obtained from raw materials other than wine and the harmonization of the wording on packages and containers are also provided.

Italy is the first country in the world able to boast a systematic and comprehensive set of rules on vine growing and wine manufacturing and marketing. Trade unions have expressed their satisfaction, underlining the importance of the sector, which is worth about 14 billion Euro and is the main export item, for over 5,5 billion Euro.