EU allows planting of new vineyards
(Vineyards of Rioja Alavesa)
From January 1st, winegrowers in European Union member countries are allowed to plant new vineyards – overturning previous restrictions. Previously, a grower could not plant any new area of vineyard without also removing an equivalent area. The question on everyone’s lips is: Will it lead to a tidal wave of low-grade wine? – as some are predicting.
The EU has said growth in a member state’s total planted area will be limited to 1% a year. It’s up to individual member states to administer the rule.
During my visit to Spain’s Rioja region, I met some wine people who were concerned about the change. Artadi (tastings) spokeswoman Ana Rodriguez said from January 1, growers would be free to plant vines if they already owned the land. She said:
“There’s not much land here in Rioja Alavesa left to plant. But you will see people planting vines in villages where there’s never been vines. We don’t like this change. The control board says it will control it, but we don’t have confidence. The signs are that there will be a big increase in quantity and it will all be at the lower-quality end.”
“Rioja is already the biggest wine region in the world after La Mancha. You can get Rioja Reserva in Carrefour (supermarkets) for 3.65 Euros. The image this sends out is the wrong one.”