EU drops plans to allow mixing to make rose wine

By AFP

July 15, 2010 Updated Jun 8, 2009 at 9:01 AM CDT

The European Commission announced on Monday that it had dropped plans to allow rose wine to be made by mixing red and white wines, a victory for producers in France and Italy.

The decision, hailed by French and Italian wine producers, followed intense lobbying of the commission, the European Union's executive arm, by organisations representing Europe's wine-making sector.

"It's important that we listen to our producers when they are concerned about changes to the regulations," EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said in a statement.

"It's become clear over recent weeks that a majority in our wine sector believe that ending the ban on blending could undermine the image of traditional rose.

"I am always prepared to listen to good arguments, and that's why I am making this change," she said.

The plans to allow the mixing practice, which the vintners claimed will usher in the "industrialisation" of the wine industry, had been due to be put to a vote by EU nations this month

Winegrowers fear such a move could lead to thousands of job losses and endanger their traditional rose, made by the more time-consuming method of leaving crushed red wine grapes to soak with their juice.

The practice of mixing reds and whites is used by New World wine-makers in countries like Australia and South Africa.

In France, Xavier de Volontat, head of the wine producers' association AGPV, said the commission decision was received with "great satisfaction."

If the blending option had been authorised, he said, it would have led to "economic and social destruction."

Italian Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia declared that "tradition has prevailed."

He said "that's the Europe we want," with the added comment "founded on respect for identity, quality, food security and tradition."

He said: "The cancellation of a reform that would have meant the death of a product with a great history ... was above all secured by the intervention of France and Italy, two countries united by a common passion for wine and the culture that is attached to it."

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