Wine Law

Designations of Origin within the EU: Legal Challenges Tomás Prieto Álvarez 1 1. Introduction; 2. Towards a Greater Conceptual Certainty Concerning Designations of Origin; 2.1. Wine European Geographical Designations’ Peculiarity; 2.2. The Controversial Differentiation of Designations of Origin and Geographical Indications; 2.2.1. Non-wine geographical indications; 2.2.2. Wine geographical indications; 3. The Nebulous Formulation of the Legal Status and Its Public-Law Nature; 4. Preservation of the Common Market in Designations of Origin; 4.1. European and National Quality Systems for Origin-Labelled Products: Substitution or Coexistence; 4.2. Internal Distribution of Powers over Designations of Origin; 5. The Scope of Designations of Origin within the Agri-Food Sector; 5.1. Various Attempts at Regulation and the Role of Courts: Current Uncertainty in the European Union; 5.2. Scholars’ Views; 5.3. Personal Assessment; 6. Supervision of Designations: Verification of Compliance with Product Specification. 1. INTRODUCTION Undeniably, the momentum that the winemaking industry has been gaining can be confidently attributed to the setting up of the Designation of Origin (DO), with the industry having prospered almost unfailingly wherever geographical designation 2 took hold. Interestingly, it was wine that initially propelled this remarkable legal status into existence in late 19 th century France: the Union de Maisons de Champagne was granted sole ownership of that name for the sparkling wines grown in that region. Hence, it might be of great interest 1 Administrative Law Lecturer at Burgos University (España). 2 In terms of both size and quality, the parallel growth of the wine lake and its corresponding designations of origin is very apparent in Spain. Take, as a very telling example, the case of Ribera del Duero, a wine DO that bolstered its production, mostly in the past decades, with highly flattering figures: over a lifespan of 35 years, it has moved from seven registered wineries up to 300.