What New World winemaking practices are forbidden in the EU (and vice versa)?

There are instances of agricultural practices that are prohibited in country X, but that do not prevent country X from importing foodstuffs produced using such practices. A good example of this is GM sweet corn that cannot be grown in France, which nevertheless (legally) imports GM corn.

Are there such instances of this in the world of wine (in the vineyard and cellar)?
Are there chemical additives that come into this category?
Irrigated vines?
Maximum yields?
Ion exchange treatment?

Best regards,
Alex R.

Can’t add sugar in California.

FWIW, last year I corresponded with a winemaker for a revered CA winery of which I am a club member, regarding certain winemaking practices (not theirs), particularly the use of Mega Purple. You might find the following comment of interest:

“Europe, which always had the strictest controls over wine production, adopted the US list of [approved] additives around 2006. It once was illegal to make mega-purple additions to wines produced or exported to the EU. The reasoning was to protect EU wine quality standards. However, they were losing market share due to the competition by Australia and USA, where the mass produced wines were being processed and manipulated with additives which yielded an advantage over EU wines. Finally, the EU dropped opposition to the US approved list of ingredients and winemaking processes, to allow their wine producing regions the ability to add color, tannin, acid, stabilizing chemicals, and artificial textural compounds as a way to compete with all other wine regions.”

Nearly the entire Old World bans irrigation of vineyards, though I believe Spain and Portugal are starting to broach the subject and I have seen irrigation done in the Valais (Switz), though this is limited to huge mobile sprinkler heads that are typically used in agriculture.

Austria allows irrigation. I believe Germany has also recently allowed it on a case by case basis.

Some Italian regions permit it, for example the Alto Adige.

According to the following article (from 6 months ago), the Languedoc-Roussillon in France is the first region in the EU to be allowed to irrigate its vineyards: Le Languedoc-Roussillon la région où l'on arrose les vignes - lindependant.fr

I swear Adam Lee (Siduri) was saying in another thread that some CA winemakers do and that it isn’t illegal. I thought it was, though. I could, of course, be mistaken.

IIRC the comment was that at harvest time all the large (50 lbs.?) bags of sugar flew off the shelf at Costco or something along those lines and not saying it was legal. I have always heard that sugar additions were not permitted in CA while it was in France but CA allows acid adjustments where France does not. Not sure if that is still the case.

Perhaps I’m out of date, but sugar used to be illegal in the U.S. but you could add grape concentrate.

Pretty sure tartrification is allowed in at least some parts of France, or some vintages (2003 comes to mind).

I believe a special exception was made for acidification in 2003.

IIRC Adam’s thread was to say that CA winemakers do it even though it’s illegal (but maybe shouldn’t be).

Actually the rule in France is that you can’t both add sugar and acid. One or the other.

Hey all. Regarding chaptalization, my point was that it should be legal in California. It is, in practicality, legal in California already but you can do it only with concentrate (thus adding flavor in addition to sugar. But also benefitting grape growers who grow for concentrate. Not a lot of sugar grown in CA). I’d prefer sugar made legal and concentrate made illegal.

Regarding sugar flying off the shelves…I saw it in 2011…but not in 2012 or 2013…it certainly isn’t an every year thing. It is a pain in the ass and I don’t see doing it unless you absolutely have to.

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

The answer for most additives and countries can be found here http://www.awri.com.au/industry_support/regulatory_assistance/additives/?additive=466&search=Display. Have fun looking up the obscure additives.


Australia – Where necessary to incorporate a permitted additive or processing aid.


Australia – For sparkling wine only.
Australian Exports to European Union – For sparkling wine only.
Canada – Selected sugars only.
New Zealand
OIV – Sucrose or grape sugar only. For sparkling wine only.
South Africa – For sparkling wine only.

Tartaric acid

Australian Exports to European Union
Brazil – DL-Tartaric acid only.
European Union Exports to Australia
Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay)
New Zealand
South Africa

That is a myth. You can add both.

I was told what Guillaume said.

Sorry that seems like pure made up bullshit.

Europe never had the strictest control over wine production. What a crock of crap. Like the guys adding glycol in Europe to increase the wines body?

A big problem with that concept is that most of those winemaker ingredients are imported to the U.S. from Europe, not the other way around and have been manufactured there for a very long time.

Sounds like another one of those “European wines don’t have sulfites and are better for you” bullshit stories.

A California winemaker told you that? Seriously?

I call bullshit.

I think the rules were changed a while back after a winemaker added sugar to the must and then added acid to the finished wine claiming they were separate products and thus you are not adding “both” to the “same” product.

We are limited each year to a set amount of chaptalisation. In 2011 it was 2% potential alcohol, in 2012 and 2013 it was 1.5% but we could have used the 2% this year. In part of my Coteaux Bourguignons plot of Gamay that I made rosé from, the grapes only got to 8.5% potential! [help.gif]