Members of the VDP (influential association of some of the finest German wine estates) agreed on a strict set of standards for the classification of new sites and decided to outlaw exemptions from the rules of their classification at their annual general meeting at Deidesheim on 15 July. The delegates are seen here (left to right: Helmut Dönnhoff, Egon Müller, Wilhelm Weil, Joachim Heger, Paul Fürst, Jochen Ratzenberger, Hilke Nagel of the VDP, Jochen Drautz, Steffen Christmann president of the VDP, Marc Adeneuer, Philipp Wittmann, Hans-Jörg Rebholz and Reinhard Löwenstein).
The organisation's four-tier classification implemented in 2012 was still top of the agenda. Delegates voted to revise their classification of new sites to accommodate a change in German federal wine law which allows the identification on a wine label of individual superior parcels within single sites. In practice this means that, for example, Paul Fürst may now legitimately use Hundsrück, a small parcel within the Centgrafenberg vineyard, as a designation of its own. Ditto for Huber's Wildenstein, which lies within the boundaries of the Bienenberg.
For the VDP the most important criteria for the classification of a new site are historic credentials, evaluation of soil as well as an identifiable geological and topographic individuality. On the practical side, wines from classified sites are required to be able to demonstrate the unique character of their provenance in a sensory evaluation.
The delegates also voted to abolish any exemptions from the rules of the classification with effect from the 2016 vintage. This consumer-friendly decision has been long overdue and will put an end to practices such as, for example, selling part of the harvest from a Grosse Lage as Erste Lage, or selling dry wines from a Grosse Lage which are not deemed suitable for inclusion in an estate's Grosses Gewächs under the same site name.
A unanimous vote was taken on the speedy implementation of a project to provide consumers with an interactive tool to obtain all the relevant information on any site classified as Grosse Lage. This will include details such as history, geology, statistics and images. This particular task is currently being pursued by the German Wine Institute.