Viticulture and Oenology

Close up of grape vines with red grapes


The wine sector represents a considerable segment of agriculture in Malta. Presently, the surface under vines in Malta consists of around 430 hectares, with nearly all of these vines being cultivated for wine production. The number of farmers cultivating vines on the Maltese islands is of over 900 farmers. 

There are also 18 licensed wine producers; 14 in Malta and 5 in Gozo. 12 of these wineries, produce wines with a Geographical Indication, wines also known as Quality wines. 

The Agriculture Directorate is the competent authority on vine cultivation, wine making practices and the marketing of wines. 

From a viticulture aspect, the main role of the directorate is to maintain a detailed register of all vineyards in Malta and Gozo, which data is verified through vineyard on the spot inspections. Commercial wine production can only take place from grapes produced in registered vineyards. 

With powers conferred through the Wine Act, the Directorate also issues the annual wineries’ licenses in collaboration with the Health Department. The Wine Act also enables also the Directorate to certify quality wines and perform market controls with regards to wine labelling and other quality wine requisites to ensure full adherence to local and EU wine regulations.

 

Quality wines

The European Union’s wine regulations establish the minimum requisites for table wines to be marketed as such. Table wines do not have a link with a particular territory. 

On the other hand, wines with a Geographical Indication (PDO or PGI) have a direct link to the territory of production and through stricter rules of production, the quality of the wine goes beyond the minimum requirements established for a table wine. 

Malta has 3 GI wines; the IĠT ‘Maltese Islands’, the DOK ‘Malta’ and the DOK ‘Gozo’. The IĠT ‘Maltese Islands’ is a wine produced from grapes cultivated on the islands and has a production protocol that limits the yield of grapes per hectare to attain higher quality than the table wines. 

The DOK ‘Malta’ and DOK ‘Gozo’ are wines that attain a higher quality even from the IĠT wines through stricter yields per hectare, methods of cultivation and the use of only the most suitable grape varieties. The grapes for such wines have to be produced exclusively in Malta and Gozo respectively.

 

Certification

Wines being marketed as DOK or IĠT have to be certified as such after a rigorous process carried out by the Directorate. The Directorate follows the whole wine making process from the beginning by assessing the production and making sure that the grapes are suitable for the production of such wines. 

When the wine is ready, the Directorate collects the DOK and IĠT wine samples and sends them to an accredited foreign laboratory for analysis the to ensure that they comply with their respective standard. Moreover, the DOK wines need also be submitted to a panel of professional wine tasters for their evaluation prior to be certified as such. 

Aside from the written denominations on the respective labels; the DOK ‘Malta’ & DOK ‘Gozo’ wines carry a pale yellow banderole, whilst IĠT ‘Maltese Islands’ wines have a green banderole making them easily recognizable from the table wines which lack these yellow and green banderols and instead carry the pink excise stamp in the form of a banderole or a small circular stamp attached to the bottle.


Additional Information:


Legislations & Regulations

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