The German Wine Legislation

„Wine law“ can be classified as a sub-area of food law. However, while food law forms the legal framework for all foodstuffs, food-specific special regulations exist in many areas that supplement general food law.

The special wine law deals with wine cultivation, wine processing, wine distribution and wine import/export (wine trade). Important parts of wine law are already regulated at European level, the implementation of which can be found in the Wine Act or the Wine Ordinance. In addition to this special wine law, the general food law, numerous other topics influenced by wine law play a role. Marketing questions, labelling obligations or general advertising law issues are also typical aspects of wine law.

This applies to general labelling obligations as well as to sales law, land lease law, distribution law, competition law, trademark law and the collection of outstanding receivables.

Wine in Germany

In 13 wine-growing regions – predominantly on the banks of the Rhine and its tributaries – an average of 9.5 million hectolitres of wine per year are produced on around 100,000 hectares of vineyards in Germany. White wine varieties are cultivated on approx. 65 percent of the area, 35 percent are planted with red wine varieties. With about 25,000 hectares, Germany has the largest Riesling area in the world.


Not only wine production plays an important role in Germany, but also the wine market. A total of around 20 million hectolitres of wine are consumed each year. Of these, 13 million hectolitres are foreign products. This makes Germany the largest wine importer in the world.


Before planting a vineyard, the legal regulations for wine must be observed just as they are for replanting and the associated planting rights. In addition to wine law, lease law regulations can be superimposed here with short periods of limitation. The wine cellar also has a prominent position under wine law and is flanked by questions of wine monitoring in particular or those of quality wine testing or quantity limitation.


Protected origin wine names and Wine Market

The wine names protected by origin are administered by the public administration. This also includes the appellations of origin protected by EU law…

For German wine, maximum yields per hectare exist under wine law, i.e. in particular for areas outside the cultivation and country wine regions. This is because the wine industry is forecasting an increase in the quantities of simple wines and processing wines. As a result, more grapes will be produced for wine without a designation of origin.

Under EU law, the Member States approve new plantings annually for one percent of the total area actually planted with vines as of 31 July of the previous year. Member States may set a lower percentage at national and/or regional level in the event of a proven threat of oversupply or depreciation of wines with origin protection.


European Wine Legislation 

In the European Union, the relevant regulations for wine trade with third countries are laid down in the following regulations:


Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the common organisation of the market in agricultural products and repealing Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 555/2008 of 27 June 2008 laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 on the common organisation of the market in wine as regards support programmes, trade with third countries, production potential and controls in the wine sector.

Wine legal framework of wine production

The wine must be produced correctly.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 606/2009 of 10 July 2009 laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 as regards categories of wine products, oenological practices and related restrictions lays down rules for that purpose.


Wine labelling: the regulation

The wine must be properly identified.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 607/2009 of 14 July 2009 laying down detailed rules for implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 as regards protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications, traditional terms and the labelling and presentation of certain wine sector products lays down rules for this purpose.


Wine Transport

With a few exceptions, you will need a wine accompanying document during transport. See Commission Regulation (EC) No 436/2009 of 26 May 2009 laying down detailed rules for implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 as regards the vineyard register, compulsory declarations and the collection of information to monitor the market, accompanying documents for the transport of wine products and records of entries and exits in the wine sector.

Import Regulation under Wine Law

When wine is imported, a certificate from the third country confirming the marketability of the wine and a certificate of analysis shall be required. The list of official bodies and laboratories authorised by third countries to issue the documents required for each export of wine to the Community can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/wine/lists/06.pdfᅠ(PDF, 1 MB, non-accessible).

There are exceptions for the import of small quantities of wine, for example in private luggage for trade fairs (see VO 555/2008).

According to § 32 of the German Wine Surveillance Regulation, admission to import wine into Germany is only granted if it has been established by an official domestic inspection and testing that the products comply with the legal acts of the European Community, the Wine Act and the legal ordinances enacted on the basis of the Wine Act in accordance with their intended purpose, their containers and their designation and presentation.

In the case of bottled products, official inspection and testing may be waived. If you have any questions about the import procedure or the official inspection, please contact the competent customs office.

Importers and exporters of wine and spirits International harmonisation of wine law

There is an important organisation in international wine law with an intergovernmental association, the OIV. The OIV is an intergovernmental governmental organization founded in Paris on 24 November 1924 by Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Tunisia as the International Office of Vine and Wine. In 2001, it was renamed and reorganised. The OIV currently has 46 Member States, 21 of which belong to the EU. With the exception of the USA, all major wine-growing nations are represented. In addition, 10 international economic and scientific organisations have observer status. The European Union (EU) itself has a special observer status, which the European Commission exercises on behalf of the EU.

The OIV is the world’s most important reference organisation for the wine sector. With the aim of international harmonisation, the OIV draws up and adopts recommendations („resolutions“) on the definition, production, manufacture, processing, analysis and labelling of vines, wine and other beverages of wine-growing origin such as liqueur wines or brandies, table grapes, raisins and other products derived from vines. The economic and statistical elaborations of the OIV on international viticulture (areas under vines, production, trade and consumption) are also an important source of information for the member countries on the basis of which decisions can be taken.