UK – The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom has announced new reforms aimed at streamlining the wine sector, which has long been stifled by EU rules that restricted innovation and consumer choices.

The new reforms will include removing expensive and cumbersome packaging requirements, such as ending the mandatory requirement that certain sparkling wines must have foil caps and mushroom-shaped stoppers.

Outdated rules around bottle shapes will also be scrapped, freeing up producers to use different shapes.

The government has also removed the requirement for imported wines to have an importer address on the label, creating more frictionless trade and reducing administrative burdens.

The producers have been given more freedom to use hybrid varieties of grapes, enabling growers to choose the variety that works best for them and reduce vine loss due to disease or climate change, while also providing greater choice to consumers.

The ban on the blending (coupage) of imported wines has been lifted, allowing producers to develop a wider variety of wines, thus expanding consumer choice.

UK government expects that the new regulations will attract sizable amounts of foreign investment into an industry that was estimated to be worth over £10 billion in 2022 in both off- and on-trade sales.

Although the domestic winemaking industry in England and Wales is quite tiny, it is expanding quickly and earning a reputation for quality around the world.

Production reports for 2022 indicate a 36% rise in production and this is expected to grow as producers get freedom to select more alternatives that are well suited to climate change.

The wine reforms follow a wider consultation with stakeholders aimed at identifying options for reforms of the Retained EU law (REUL) following the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) in 2020.

The new reforms were announced by the Food and Drink Minister, Mark Spencer, in the presence of Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the UK’s Wine and Spirit Trade Association, and Ned Awty, Director and Interim CEO of Wines of Great Britain.

By reviewing the laws following Brexit, the UK intends to facilitate international trade and foster domestic innovation and growth, according to Spencer. These reforms are set to be operationalized in 2024.

“We have a diverse and dynamic wine sector here in the UK, but for too long, our producers and traders have been held back by red tape inherited from the EU,” he stated.

“The reforms we’ve announced today scrap outdated and burdensome rules so that our wineries, vineyards, and traders can continue to innovate and help grow our economy.”