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UK vineyards exempt from EU vine-planting ban

Vineyards in England and Wales will be exempt from EU-wide planting restrictions – among the most controversial of the EU wine reforms.

The ban, which limited further planting once total production reached 3.3m bottles (which it did in 2006), was lambasted by UK growers who have seen an increase in demand for their still and sparkling wine.

‘More vines have been planted in the UK in last three years than ever before,’ said Bob Lindo, Chairman of the UK Vineyards Association and owner of Camel Valley Vineyard in Cornwall.

‘Other countries still have limits, but we are now exempt during the negotiation period that ends in 2014.’

The EU-wide planting ban was introduced in 1999 to stem overproduction of poor quality wine eventually destined for distillation, fostering inefficiency and leaving the subsidy system open to abuse.

With support from UK agricultural bodies and Members of the European Parliament, the UKVA lobbied against the limits.

It argued before the House of Lords Select Committee that to stop the local industry from expanding despite increasing consumer demand would be to flout the goals of the Common Agricultural Policy.

‘A lot of wine in Europe is made just to be distilled to run buses in Norway, and the producers get subsidies,’ said Lindo.

‘The reason our case was so well-received is we made it clear that we didn’t want any subsidies. We are favour allowing market forces to dictate production.

Lindo said the good news has already led to a run on plants.

‘All the vines that are suitable for the English climate – Pinot Noir Précoce (Frühburgunder), Bacchus, Seyval – are completely sold out.’

Written by Maggie Rosen

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