California Wine Institute Calls EU-US Agreement Positive Step For Global Wine Market
SAN FRANCISCO December 22, 2005 - Members of the California Wine Institute today issued a statement in support of the EU-US wine trade agreement approved on December 20, calling it a positive step forward in expanding the global wine market and meeting evolving consumer tastes and needs.
Simply stated, the EU-US wine trade agreement benefits the EU by enhancing protection of European names and safeguarding the EU's biggest market - the United States.
For the US, the agreement gives full recognition of US winemaking practices, some of which previously required regular renewal by the EU. The US will continue to accept EC winemaking practices, although not all are permitted for US winemakers. For instance, adding sugar, or chaptalization, is not permitted in California.
The California Wine Institute rebukes misinformation that implies that US winemaking practices compromise product quality because the methods do not conform to established practice in some European countries. Joseph Rollo, International Director of the California Wine Institute says, "US wineries produce high quality wines which meet a broad distribution of consumer tastes and price preferences using practices approved and used throughout the wine world."
In general, winemaking practices around the world differ based on climate, tradition and the need by each winemaker to craft wines for a dynamic and discerning consumer market. Most of the winemaking practices covered by this agreement are already permitted for wines imported into Europe from countries such as Australia, Canada, Chile and South Africa that have trade agreements with Europe. Further, these practices have been used by US winemakers for wines sold to the EU under the previous renewal procedure.
Central to the criticism by those who oppose the agreement are winemaking practices of adding water to must and using oak chips. Claims that the agreement will result in watered down wine are not true. The rules on this subject are basically the same in the EU and the US. There is no basis for any suspicion that the rules are not being followed. The use of wood chips is a legal and common practice and has been deemed to be an acceptable winemaking practice by the OIV, an international organization which includes many EU wine making countries including Germany.
The Wine Institute (of California), with its head office in San Francisco and European office in the Netherlands, is a public policy advocacy and export marketing association of 886 California wineries and affiliated businesses. Wine Institute was established in 1934 and its membership accounts for 85 percent of US wine production.