All vineyards over 0.1 hectare (approximately a quarter of an acre) in size are required to be registered with the Food Standards Agency. Owners must register their vines no later than 6 months after planting them and must notify the FSA of subsequent changes.
The main purpose of registration is to help establish the authenticity of wine and to monitor yields and production levels. Registration is free and there are no charges for our inspections or for any advice we offer.
Smaller vineyards must also be registered if they operate commercially. The wine regulations specify the data which must be gathered, including the area of the vineyard and the areas for different vine varieties grown.
Annual production declarations are part of the Vineyard Register. Commercial vineyards are sub-divided into growers without wine making facilities and wineries which make wine from their own production and from grapes processed under contract or purchased from other vineyards.
We have further guidance on setting up a wine business.
Registering a UK vineyard
Registration forms can be downloaded from our website, completed electronically and then submitted by email. They can also be printed off and posted to FSA Wine Standards for distribution to the appropriate Regional Wine Standards Inspector. You should keep a copy of each of the completed forms for your records.
The registration forms require details of the vine varieties planted, the year of the planting, the area of each variety, the planting density and details of certain vineyard features.
There are different categories of vineyard. The involvement of the FSA varies depending on the category. The category applied to a vineyard can easily be changed to reflect the circumstances at any given time.
Abandoned vineyards are sites which are not routinely maintained. They could be restored although often, in time, they may be grubbed up. We regard these as low priority vineyards. We would contact the registered holder to keep up to date on any changes in status. We visit every four years.
Hobby vineyards are sites where grapes are grown for personal enjoyment. Any wine made is for the registered holder’s own consumption. No grapes or wine from a hobby vineyard are sold. We regard these as low priority. We would contact the registered holder to keep up to date on any changes in status. We visit every four years.
Commercial vineyards are sites where grapes are grown and sold as a commercial crop to a winery. They can also be sold to other manufacturers for grape juice or other products.
In this type of system, you may want to consider having a formal contract to protect both parties. Some example contracts are available to WineGB members. The winery or manufacturer taking the crop may have their own.
Grapes must be transported with a Commercial Accompanying Document (CAD), unless exemptions apply. We would contact the registered holder every two years to keep up to date on any changes in status. We visit every four years.
Commercial vineyard making or selling wine
The holder will grow their own grapes and then either vinify them on site or send the grapes to a commercial winery for vinification. This may include the bottling process. The finished wine is then returned to the vineyard for sale.
The holder producing wine must complete a WSB 21 production return annually. This indicates the type and quantity of wine made. We visit these vineyards at least once a year if they make their own wine, or once every two years if they have their wine made under contract on a different site.
If the holder produces their own wine, they are required to maintain accurate winery records, records of any grapes they may buy or sell, and submit an annual wine production declaration.
Commercial contract winemaker
The holder may in addition to making their own wine also make wine for other growers. Both commercial vineyards and hobby vineyards use contract winemakers to make wine for them.
We visit these premises twice a year. The holder must maintain accurate winery records, records of any grapes they may buy or sell, and submit an annual wine production declaration.