«The introduction of «appellations d'origine» in Europe and Spain: wine types and wine quality. Juan Pan-Montojo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) ...»
Old and New Worlds: the Global Challenges of Rural History | International Conference, Lisbon, ISCTE-IUL, 27-30 January 2016 laws protected in fiscal terms wine spirits (1926) and outlawed inferior and artificial wines (1927)10. In Austria, the law for the promotion of wine-growing, in 1929, established subsidies for the renovation of vineyards with local varieties, in order to increase quality11. In Greece the State created cartels for foreign trade of wine and raisins in 1926-28 and wine appellations were regulated in 1932 and 193712. Wine laws were as well passed in Yugoslavia in 1929, Germany in 1930, Italy in 1930, Bulgaria in 1931, France in 1931, Spain in 1932, Argentina in 1935... This legislation shared certain common elements: the regulation of authorised methods of cultivation and wine production, the restriction of high yielding non-autochthonous varieties, different limits to new vineyards, the discrimination of substitutes via special taxes, labelling regulations or direct prohibition, the promotion of wine alcohols and the restriction of other alcohols..., and all of these measures were backed either by new administrative agents and/or official corporations of wine-growers. Appellations of origin, designed to isolate the superior wines from the deflationary forces active in the market, were the other political device that received a growing support after the crisis of 1929.
3. The first appellations: France, Portugal and Hungary In 1905, the French government reacted to the widespread fall of wine prices, and especially to the organisation of vignerons in the Midi under the leadership of socialists, with a bill on frauds and adulteration of food and drinks. The main aim of this piece of legislation was to push out of the market different "false" or "industrial" wines, that is to say, to foster the sales of common wine. However, the articles of the law passed by the French Parliament, in August, punished for the first time the false indications of origin. Three years later, in 1908, a new law decided the creation of a public register of labels and appellations for wines, and its article 11 empowered the French Administration to fix the boundaries of the wine-making districts of Champagne, Bordeaux, Cognac and Bourgogne, as we have already mentioned. The list of regions taken into account by the law underlines the nature of the question it wanted to address: the State aimed for a restricted entrance to the markets defined by generally known appellations that fetched higher prices in France and abroad.
The public commission that had to define the Champagne region finished its task very quickly, and by December 1908, an agreement was reached, that on the one hand allowed the introduction of grapes and musts from outside under certain conditions and on the other excluded from the newly established Champagne area some municipalities which had so far produced it: a compromise among the contradictory interests at stake, which provoked unrest and even violence in the region13. Similar problems arose in the South-West, where the Bordelais and the inner sub-regions within it were fixed in three different ways by special committees and the Conseil d'État in 1907, 1909 and 191114. All these struggles on boundaries had no clear way out, because the solution could not be but arbitrary. Appellations were not natural or given and politicians or bureaucrats had to draw frontiers bearing in mind the extent and strength of resistance to their decisions: lobbies and collective action were thus very powerful in France and everywhere in a step that was not irreversible, but created a clear path-dependence for the future. As a result of the violent conflicts produced by the fixing of wine-regions in these early stages, both in France and abroad15, politicians became very favourable to self-regulation. An
8. Ion C. Teodoresco, "Mesures proposées en Roumanie pour prévenir la crise de surproduction" in Bulletin International du Vin, July, 1929, nr. 14, p. 92-99.
. Report on the Weinbauförderungsgesetz in Bulletin International du Vin, May 1930, nº 24.
. Boyazglu (1939).
. Colin (1973), pp. 22-24; Simpson (2011), pp. 145-153.
. Roudié (1988), pp. 219-232; Simpson (2011), pp. 126-131.
. There are some good works for the Spanish conflicts: see Cabral (1987) and Caro (1995, 1996) for Sherry Old and New Worlds: the Global Challenges of Rural History | International Conference, Lisbon, ISCTE-IUL, 27-30 January 2016 option that could not work smoothly either, due to the large number of people involved, their unequal position, the high degree of organisation among wine-growers and related trades and the contradictory nature of their interests.
In the years before the Great War, the French parliament worked on a bill, which extended the right to claim an appellation to the other wine producing regions and went beyond the mere location of productive centres, enforcing the obligation of being loyal to the traditional features of the wine (varieties, alcoholic degree, level of acidity...). Shippers, wine merchants and wine industrials mobilised against a new version of appellations that implied public control of their activity and a new relationship with local wine growers16, favourable to those who held the monopoly of grapes protected by the appellation. The protests of wine dealers and the outburst of World War I stopped the parliamentary action. After the War, the shippers of the great wines and the wine trade obtained a clear success: the Law of 1919 abandoned the possibility of an administrative fixation and control of appellations. Instead it protected the already existing regions (Cognac, Champagne, Bordeaux and Bourgogne) and allowed any group of wine-growers to claim an appellation, leaving to the courts the decision of its lawful use. The State backed appellations but not on behalf of grape growers, since ultimately it just protected wine names which were facing a growing competition from local and foreign producers (who sold Spanish or Italian Médocs or Champagnes for instance), without any restrictions on how wine was produced, as long as it were made within the boundaries of the region.
The success of big producers and shippers in the internal legislation was followed by an active policy of the French diplomatic service. France took advantage of the treaties that put an end to World War I to enforce the recognition of appellations of origin -in the terms defined by French laws and regulations- on Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary17. From 1919 onwards, nearly every commercial treaty that France signed, contained a clause dedicated to the protection of Bordeaux and its sub-regional appellations (Sauternes, Médoc...) and especially to those of Champagne and Cognac, luxury drinks that were relatively easy to delocalise, because of their production processes. A wide recognition for appellations was attained from Finland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Belgium, the Baltic countries...18; no success was achieved however in the negotiations with Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the Commonwealth countries, where some of the most competitive imitations of French products took place. Only after 1929 did the French activity in this field attain a complete success in Europe.
Partly as a result of the short-comes of the 1919 legislation and conflicts created by it, and partly because of the opposition faced by the French diplomacy abroad, the official French doctrine on the meaning of appellations was altered. From the first point of view the 1919 Law had given birth to long and difficult litigations and had encouraged the "misuse" of appellations, as we shall see later. From the second point of view, the diplomatic one, it was the British vision of geographical wine names as generic names what obliged to develop an alternative doctrinal reference. A Congress held in Cognac in 1922 by the French vineyards’ associations (Fédération des associations viticoles régionales de France) denounced the narrow concept of appellations as just a geographical question and demanded that place, soil, varieties and producing processes and Mees (1992) y Navajas (1995) for Rioja. A general view in Pan-Montojo (1994).
. In 1919 the Syndicat Nationale du Commerce en gros des vins, cidres, spiritueux et liqueurs en France, was created to resist the "exaggerated regulation of AO's" in the bill that became law that very year. By 1929, the Syndicat Nationale claimed 18.000 members (Bulletin International du Vin, January, 1929, nr. 8, pp. 60-63). On the struggle for AOC's and the interests in conflict see Loubère (1990), chapter 4.
. The enforcement of these imposed international agreements was not very ample, though, and France signed new bilateral treaties with Austria and Hungary throughout the 20's.
. "La protection des indications d'origine des produits vinicoles dans les accords commerciaux signés depuis 1918" (Communication du Ministère des Affaires étrangeres de France", in Bulletin International du Vin, April, 1930, nr. 23, pp. 83-89.
Old and New Worlds: the Global Challenges of Rural History | International Conference, Lisbon, ISCTE-IUL, 27-30 January 2016 which defined a type of wine were turned into legal conditions to obtain the right to use an appellation19. Their conclusions were translated into a bill that did not succeed in Parliament.
However, in 1927 a new Law was passed, that introduced only minor corrections in the existing French legislation but in fact gave appellations a new meaning. It restricted the right to use a regional or local appellation to those wines coming from varieties and from soils "established by local, genuine and long-lasting usage" (consacrés par des usages locaux, loyaux et constants), excluding in any case grapes coming from hybrids, and it fixed the boundaries, the varieties and fermentation method which enabled producers to use the appellation Champagne. What some jurists have called the "naturalist conception" of geographical appellations was embodied into the French legislation20. However, outside Champagne the fulfilment of any kind of conditions of quality was voluntary (since they were not fixed for any area nor was it determined how they should be).
France was not alone in its development of appellations although it held a key position in its diffusion. Portugal and Hungary followed a parallel way. In Portugal, all the wine policies were determined by the Douro region and Port wine. The stagnation of the Port exports between 1887 and 1909 gave birth to a wide legislation and in 1907 to the official fixing of the region of Douro21. To compensate other wine producing regions that had so far supplied their common wine for coupage [blending] in Port, wine distillation was forbidden in the Douro and other regional appellations were created: Carcavelos, Colares, Vinho verde and Dao in 1908, Madeira in 1909, and Bucelas in 1910. Portuguese legislation on appellations (and complementary regulations on trade) were as plentiful as inefficient throughout the following years: cheap common wines from all over the country kept on coming into the Douro region, which exported increasing amounts of Port after World War I. In an attempt to redress the balance between shippers and growers, Vila Nova de Gaia became in 1926 the only authorised port for the international trade of Port wine, and a commission of viticulturists was given the power of inspecting young wines coming into this town. This and other measures underwent various legal changes and the advance towards a system of controlled appellations was halted up until the 1930's by the pressure of the powerful lobbies of the wine trade. Precisely because of their demands, the Portuguese government strongly supported French international campaigns in favour of appellations and gave a central position to this question in its bilateral agreements22: in both countries shippers wanted appellations to shield them against international competition but were not prepared to accept any constraints on their activity.
Hungary was the third pioneer of appellations. In 1908 it regulated the area of production of grape for the Tokay wine. In 1924 a new Wine Law foresaw the creation of new appellations by the Ministry of Agriculture, and fixed strict norms for the labelling of all wines (regional appellation, place of production, grape variety, wine quality...). False Tokay wines continued to be produced and exported to all Central European countries despite this legislation, and in June 1929 a general regulation of the sector took place23: wine consortiums of growers were established in municipalities and districts and received wide powers to decide vineyard works, fix harvest dates and enforce administrative decisions. Quality controls were however only foreseen for the Tokay district, which was to be severely hit by the crisis in the 30s.
In France, Portugal and Hungary and elsewhere, the 1929 crisis produced a turning point in the
history of appellations. In the early 1930s wine markets were fully segmented and regulated:
general checks were imposed on the vine surfaces and different outlets for common wine were. Piard (1937).
. For instance López (1996), p. 43.
. The general trends of Port production and trade in Martins (1990).
. Simoes (1932) gives a general view of Portuguese diplomatic actions to protect its appellations.
. See the complete text in Bulletin International du Vin, December, 1930, nr. 31, pp. 14-35.
Old and New Worlds: the Global Challenges of Rural History | International Conference, Lisbon, ISCTE-IUL, 27-30 January 2016 established, whereas the quality wine received a specific treatment via appellations. But before we consider the changes the 1930's brought with them, let's give a look to the new international institution which had been born in 1928: the O.I.V..