The Department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the ministerial department with responsibility for overseeing laws related to wine. The Food Standards Agency is the competent authority responsible for enforcing the wine regulations at the import, bottling, UK production and wholesale distribution stages within the UK. Defra, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and local authorities are also enforcement agencies with the latter being responsible for all enforcement in the retail sector.
Australia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) launched negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) on 17 June 2020.
Update on Brexit for Australian wine exporters
The United Kingdom formally withdrew from the European Union on 31 January 2020. The transition period ended on 1 January 2021 and a customs border is now imposed between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU), including Northern Ireland.
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed that there will be a period of adjustment for all food and drink products, including wine and spirits, from the end of the Brexit transition period to 30 September 2022.
Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/importing-and-exporting-wine#moving-wine-from-gb-to-ni
To summarise, the changes mean that:
- Wine, spirits and other alcoholic drinks products can continue to be placed on the UK market without changes until 30 September 2022 – but from 1 October 2022 goods sold in the UK must include a UK importer, bottler or vendor address.
- This only applies to the GB market, and does not apply to Northern Ireland. Goods sold in Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules for labelling (meaning the label requires either an EU or NI address).
- There is no grace period for the EU market. Products placed on the EU market will need an EU address on the label from 1 January 2021.
- As there is a risk in including two addresses on a label for wine on the EU market, the UK Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) recommends using only one EU bottler or importer address on wine labels destined for both the UK and the EU markets until the end of the transitional arrangements on 30 September 2022.
Whilst the European Commission has unofficially indicated that after the Brexit transition period it will be acceptable to list both a UK importer and an EU importer on labels, provided it is clear which is which and hence not misleading to the consumer, we have not received confirmation on this point. The determination of whether the presentation of importer information is misleading to the consumer is a matter that will be determined by each of the relevant Member State authorities and some may take a more dogmatic approach in their application of the rules.
Application of EU wine regulations in the UK
Although the UK is no longer a member of the EU, in accordance with the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and the Agricultural Products, Food and Drink (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, EU wine regulations as applied to the UK on 31 December 2020 continue to apply in the UK (‘retained’ EU wine regulations).
Accordingly, wine sold in the UK must comply with retained EU wine regulations.
The retained EU wine regulations dictate:
- the oenological practices that may be used in the production of imported wine prior to it being imported to the UK
- the oenological practices that may be used in the production of imported wine within the UK
- the labelling requirements for wine in the UK
- rules pertaining to the provision of VI-1 documents for wine imported to the UK.
Import procedures for the United Kingdom Market
Duties and taxes for the United Kingdom market
Labelling requirements for the United Kingdom market
Wine standards for the United Kingdom market