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At the beginning of last year, a press release made the wine world sit up and take notice: At an extraordinary general meeting on 25 January 2012, the members of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates (VDP) unanimously adopted the resolution on a new site classification of the association. The existing quality system was thus expanded and amended; the new version will come into force with the 2012 vintage. This was preceded by intensive, partly controversial discussions within the association, and even today some questions are still open. We present the new classification system in detail and have collected opinions and assessments from winemakers and industry observers.

The so-called grape eagle is the logo of the Prädikat wine estates united in the VDP. (Photo: VDP)

Four quality levels

The VDP is the association of more than 200 wineries in Germany that adhere to strict quality guidelines (yield limitation, environmentally friendly viticulture, etc.) and are organised in ten regional associations. The history of the association goes back more than 100 years. The background to the new classification is the self-image of the association members "as pioneers of a clear labelling of top quality wines with a distinctive origin for consumers. [...] The goal of all the efforts of the Prädikat wine estates and decisive for the future of German top winegrowing are handcrafted, culturally inspired, terroir-flavoured wines while at the same time preserving the stylistic diversity of German wines. With our soils, microclimates, grape varieties and the commitment of our winegrowers, we have enormous resources at our disposal. Used correctly, they secure the existence of our wineries and satisfy the growing longing for authentic enjoyment in the concert of the world's great wines." So it says - a little pathetically - in the postscript to the resolution of the extraordinary VDP general meeting in January 2012.