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The Chairman of the National Wine Agency about the New Regulation of Certification

In order to improve quality of wines and spirits in Georgia, a new regulation of product certification has started to function recently.  We offer an interview around this theme with the chairman of the Wine National Agency, Giorgi Samanishvili.

- Mr. Giorgi, what kind of challenges does the winemaking face in Georgia nowadays, which led to the product certification? Also what kind of problems has appeared recently?

- Let’s start from positive aspects. The certifying process has been working quite properly until now, there was a right system and nobody was concerned with it. We just tried to make certifying more refined and to implement modern approaches.  This new advancement refers to applying of lot numbers, which on the one hand, makes easier to find an appropriate product, on the other hand - it will add its contribution into simplifying the certificating process. We wanted to develop the system in these two directions.

- Are these regulations applied because of concluding the association agreement with the European Union?

There aren’t such requests from the European Union yet.  It was our initiative to put into practice this new regulation of certification, but it might become obligatory one day. The identification with a lot number became mandatory approximately in the beginning of the 80s in the European Union. If I’m not mistaken it was Italy, where happened an incident that while making wine some harmful substances were added during the technological process. It became necessary to remove the batch from realization, but it was rather difficult to find the whole batch of wines. Consequently, if such cases happen nowadays, manufacturers have to remove wines with concrete lot numbers and not the whole batch.

- To generalize this question, what is a lot number?

A lot number – is a kind of private number for a product. A person with a name and a family name also has a ID number for his identification, in order not to mix this person with someone else with the identical name.  Thus, some sorts of wines need lot numbers for identification.  Accordingly, separate certification and exams will be held for one sample of a lot and result will be spread at the whole lot. A manufacturer  will be responsible for the homogeneity of a lot. Consequently, we will ensure that the certified lot was presented at the market. 

- How will you check that a manufacturer has properly presented a lot sample?

If a lot has a problem, theoretically an unconscientious manufacturer can present a sample with different lot or even a sample of a different company at the certification.  But definitely it will emerge later while verification.

- As I understand a lot number is more for needs of manufacturers and governmental organization or will it bring benefit to a consumer as well?

Firstly it is comfortable for manufacturers and then for controlling organizations. But, consumers can also take advantage from it. When a consumer sees a certified wine in the market, he will consider that this wine has already passed through significant stages. Additionally, if a consumer faces a problem, he can apply to us and we will be able to check out the batch of wines with the concrete lot number.   Methods of finding, as I have noted already, gives an opportunity to a consumer to choose product easily.  Lot numbers can also obtain marketing functions for wine popularization in the 21-st century.  

- What will be simplified for manufacturers after certificating?

Until today certifying process consisted of following procedures – if a company produced a big amount of wine and wanted to export some quantity of it, first step was to send several bottles to a lab and if needed to the national wine agency for the special verification.  All these were connected to expanses and for each exporting wave one needed to overcome this procedure again and pay money.  According to the new regulation, a manufacturer can get a certificate for the whole lot and for exporting he will only need to print out a certificate preserved at the data base of the agency and afterwards give it to a recipient and a custom-house.  In such cases a manufacturer only makes the request regarding the quantity of bottles and he will be able to receive the certificate free of charge. Certificating is rather important for manufacturers and it will help them in online selling as well, which was factually impossible in Georgia until today. According to the previous regulation, a manufacturer should present the certificate for the realization of a one bottle and nowadays online wine selling becomes possible without additional expanses and bureaucratic procedures. 

- Is certificating mandatory in every case or only while exporting? Will some sanctions be imposed for those manufacturers, who won’t go through the certification process?

At this stage certificating refers only to exporting wines. The quality of control is low in the inner market. It may be good at some point, but at another – unprofitable. 

Changes were only made in the regulation regarding certificating at present. Referring to a regulation according which verifying of every packed product will be mandatory; it foresees some changes in law of vine and wine.  We hope these changes will be supported. Regarding sanctions, question does not stand like this, as the government always tries to minimize sanctions. In this case our main purpose is to create a simple and logical system, but if such changes will be made in regulations, certification will become mandatory. 

- Will wine packaging be regulated according to the new rule, more concretely, will the Soviet symbolic restricted on wine labels (for example: Stalin’s portray and so on)?

Generally, the rule of labeling is strictly regulated by the current law. Regarding the Soviet symbolic, as I am informed, it is not breaking the law to use Stalin’s portray on a label. This question can be consulted with a lawyer. But we are not really happy that Georgian wines are sold in such packaging. Our purpose is to replace the post-soviet image of the Georgian wine with the modern one. 

© Georgian Wine Club, National Wine Agency

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May 2023