Label laws

There are a series of controls on the form and content of wine labels that coexist with the Geographic Indications regulations. The most important is what is commonly called truth-in-labelling, guaranteed by the Label Integrity Program (LIP). This is a control system self-imposed on Australian winemakers, the cost of compliance likewise funded by Australian wineries (by a levy charged on each tonne of grapes crushed). It requires winemakers to keep the most scrupulous and detailed records; this enables an audit to be made at any stage. The records must account for every tonne of grapes processed, whether estate-grown or contract-grown, and track the wine from those grapes, whether it is estate-bottled and sold, bottled, or sold without a label, or sold as bulk wine. Each year there is a parallel audit of a given variety within a given region, which charts how much of that variety is made from grapes grown in the region, how much is made from grapes grown elsewhere, and how the wine made from those grapes is disposed of. There are also annual random audits of winemakers large and small, and specific audits where the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation is put on notice of possible irregularities.

The minimum amount of information required for the label on every bottle of wine sold in Australia is the producer’s name and address, the alcohol level, the number of standard drinks the bottle contains, the statement ‘Contains sulfites’ (unless no SO2 has been added at any time prior to the wine being bottled) and either ‘Wine of Australia’ or ‘Product of Australia’. Additionally, there must be a declaration if any of a number of prescribed allergenic substances have been used during the making of the wine. The relevant substances are milk and casein, egg whites, nuts and isinglass. The legal requirement is that the statement must say either that the substance is in the wine or that it has been used in its manufacture. 

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