Australian viticulturalist Peter Hayes has been elected unopposed as President of the International Organisation of the Vine and Wine (OIV).

The OIV is the world’s major intergovernmental body that sets technical standards for wine.

Hayes becomes President at a turbulent time. Apart from the global wine glut, Brussels has announced it will drastically reduce subsidies to the EU wine sector. Viticulture is also expanding internationally.

‘I think the Old World recognises that the world has changed radically since 1924 and that there needs to be a change,’ said Hayes. ‘Maybe a New World perspective can assist with that.’

Hayes, who replaces Professor Reiner Wittkowski of Germany, says his priorities include forging new technical and scientific alliances, and broadening membership.

‘Other emerging issues are sustainability and consumer safety,’ he said.

Formerly a viticulturalist for Southcorp, Hayes is also member of the Australian Wine Research Institute Council and Chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for Irrigation Futures.

Founded in 1924, the OIV has 42 member countries, including both producers and major markets. Its role is to standardise legislation on issues like labelling, additives, technology and definitions.

Although the OIV’s recommendations are not binding, the EU has recently declared it will use the OIV as a reference body.

Written by Felicity Carter