Winemakers to be given a helping hand

Government promises incentives in line with EU state-aid rules

Agriculture Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri has committed to measures “within the coming months” to incentivise wine production amid warnings of a shortage.

Mr Camilleri told the Times of Malta he had met with winemakers after renewed calls for government subsidies to encourage new vineyards and safeguard indigenous grape varieties, following a second successive year of low yields due to poor rainfall.

“Consumers are increasingly choosing Maltese wine, so we need to encourage more people to plant vines to cope with demand,” he said.

“We will be looking into new initiatives to ensure that over three to four years we will have the necessary supply.”

Speaking after the launch of a new information campaign highlighting DOK-certified Maltese wines, Mr Camilleri would not specify what form of incentives could be offered, saying only that the government was bound by EU state-aid regulations.

Marsovin said in September yield from the indigenous Girgentina and Ġellewża varieties had declined even further this harvest, after 2016 saw more than a third of vines lost to the poor weather.

Delicata managing director George Delicata said with demand steadily increasing and another poor harvest, winemakers would soon be struggling to keep shelves stocked unless support was offered soon.

Following a question by MEP Francis Zammit Dimech, the European Commission confirmed that there had been no measures taken by the Maltese government using EU funds to compensate winemakers or safeguard indigenous varieties.

The EC said the government could offer compensation out of national funds in line with agricultural state-aid rules, or under the de minimis regulation up to €15,000 over three years for each beneficiary.

Dr Zammit Dimech, who said he had also held a meeting with the head of the European Parliament’s Wine Inter-Group, ap-pealed to the government to help the wine industry in line with the Commission’s reply.

Campaign to promote ‘Wines of Distinction’

Authorities have launched a new campaign to increase awareness and interest in local DOK (Denominazzjoni ta’ Oriġini Kontrollata) and IGT (Indikazzjoni Ġeografika Tipika) wines.

The certification, which has been in place in Malta for 10 years, is applied under an EU framework based on rules governing quality, authenticity, geographic zone and the variety of grapes.

Nine wineries in Malta and Gozo currently produce DOK and IGT wines, with some 450 hectares of land dedicated to vine cultivation.

Over the last season, the wineries produced around 459,000 litres of DOK or IGT wine.

The new campaign will include advertising on TV and radio, as well as billboards, magazines and online media, and educational articles and appearances by agriculture officials on informational television programmes.

It will also include a wine appreciation and tasting event, while plans are in place for the setting-up of the first-ever wine trail in Malta and Gozo.


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