Table of contents
I. Official Catalogue of Vine Varieties
a. Variety registration in the Catalogue process
b. Clone certification process
c. Importing grapevine material from a third country
II. Classification of grapevine varieties
a. Variety classification process
IV. Issues resulting from varietal names
V. Role of the different bodies involved in the supervision of grapevine plant material
a. GEVES, the French Variety and Seed Study and Control Group
b. CTPS, the Permanent Technical Committee for Plant Breeding
c. The Vine Section of the CTPS
d. FranceAgriMer, the designated authority for the certification of vine cuttings and plants
e. FranceAgriMer Specialist Council for Wine and Cider
f. FranceAgriMer Sector Committee for Vine Cuttings and Plants
g. INOV, the National Office for Plant Breeders' Rights
I. Official Catalogue of Vine Varieties
The Official Catalogue of Plant Species and Varieties Cultivated in France for vines, called the “Official Catalogue of Vine Varieties”, is the list of varieties of which the propagating material may be marketed within the European Union. The Catalogue is made up of a list A, the main list, and a list B of varieties where the material may be produced in France solely with a view to export to third party countries. A variety must be registered in at least one catalogue of a Member State to be authorised for propagation and marketing in France and throughout the European Union (EU).
Member States notify the content of their national catalogues to the European Commission and the compiled results of this are represented in the Common Catalogue.
This Catalogue was initially defined by Directive 68/193/EEC, which aimed to harmonise existing national laws on the marketing of grapevine vegetative propagation material. It provides the main names and officially recognised synonyms and lists the principal morphological and physiological characteristics allowing the different varieties to be distinguished from one another.
Further information: Official Catalogue of Vine Varieties, FranceAgriMer.
A variety is officially registered by an order of the Ministry of Agriculture on the basis of a recommendation by a consultative committee: the Vine Section of the Permanent Technical Committee for Plant Breeding (CTPS).
To be registered, a variety has to meet two technical conditions:
- The variety has first of all to be recognised as distinct, homogeneous and stable (DHS). This point is assessed in an official examination in which the candidate variety is described and differentiated in comparison to the reference collection. In France, the DHS studies are carried out at the INRAE Domaine de Vassal Experimental Unit (Hérault) on behalf of GEVES. The examination covers a number of characteristics defined in an internationally recognised protocol (UPOV, CPVO).
- The variety also has to demonstrate its agronomical, technical and environmental value (VATE) through appropriate experimentation as laid down in a special technical regulation approved by ministerial order.
The VATE studies are a means of characterising the potentiality of the candidate varieties for registration. In the case of traditional varieties, they may be based partially or wholly on the bibliography or existing references. Over and beyond the aspects of productivity and the quality of the products obtained, the emphasis has been placed for a number of years now on the tolerance of or resistance to pests and abiotic stresses (especially, dry conditions).
Registration of a grapevine variety in the Catalogue is of unlimited duration, unlike the registrations in the catalogues of other species. The applicant must pay the registration fee and a maintainer, who is responsible for maintaining the variety in accordance with the official description, is officially designated for each listed variety. The maintainer of newly created varieties must also pay an annual maintenance fee to the Catalogue.
- How to register a variety in the Catalogue.
- How to apply to register a variety and which documents to submit.
A clone has to be certified through a clonal selection process in order to be propagated and certified in France. If all the production criteria are met, the propagation material of that clone – whether vine cuttings or plants – is authorised to bear an “initial”, “basic” or “certified” certification label, depending on the category.
Clone certification is the decision of the chief executive officer of FranceAgriMer, which is the authority responsible for certifying vine cuttings and plants on the advice of a consultative committee, the Vine Section of the CTPS.
The certification of a grapevine clone is based on the health of the initial material, its performance in terms of cultivation and sustainability, and its varietal identification by genetic analysis. The entire grapevine clone certification procedure is set out in a Technical Regulation approved by the Vine Section of the CTPS (current version, validated in 2016). The certified clones are planted in a national conservatory, which is the starting point for their propagation.
In France, clonal selection is carried out by selection organisations accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture, usually in close collaboration with a technical partner working in a winegrowing region. These organisations may be public or private and are responsible for maintaining and disseminating the original material of the clones they selected.
- Certification protocol:
- List of certified clones in France.
- Marketing of grapevine material.
- List of selection organisations accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture.
It is prohibited to introduce plants of the Vitis genus into the EU. To import grapevine plant material into France requires registration in the National Catalogue. Material from a third country outside the EU which is a candidate for registration must undergo quarantine in France as part of the derogation procedure from the ban on grapevine plant material (other than fruit and seed) under Directive 2008/61 EC, Annex III, Part A, Section 3: measures for vines.
The only grapevine plant material that may be marketed in France is that listed in the National Catalogue or in one of the catalogues of another EU member state.
Further information: marketing of vine plants, GEVES.
II. Classification of grapevine varieties
Further to the provisions of the Common Organisation of the Markets (COM) concerning wine, only nationally classified varieties may be planted, replanted or grafted for the purpose of wine or grape production in a member state of the European Union. The regularly updated classification of the varieties in France is therefore the reference list for wine producers. Note that varieties intended exclusively for the production of table grapes, as well as their rootstocks, are not subject to classification.
Historically, the general rules of classification were established in Regulation EEC 1388/70. When the principal of free plantation of vines was abandoned in 1976, the notions of “recommended” and “authorised” varieties were introduced, managed by département or part of a département. Since 2008, the classification of wine grape varieties has been managed at the national level.
Following a regulatory reform in 2016, there are now two types of classification: definitive classification and temporary classification for experimental purposes.
The definitive classification of a variety allows it to be used to produce and market wine, in addition to the criteria required by the specifications of the geographical indication (PDO or PGI).
The point of temporary classification is to enable the suitability of new varieties, or varieties little-known or unknown in France, to be assessed to establish whether they satisfy the definitive classification criteria. The varieties eligible for temporary classification may be planted on up to 20 hectares per production basin if an official examination deems that they meet the DHS criteria. If not, and as long as the DHS examination is inconclusive, the surface area for plantation is limited to 3 hectares nationally. Whatever the case, the maximum surface area allowed on a partner operation of the collective experiment is 1 hectare.
- Vine variety classification, FranceAgriMer.
- Plantation of experimental vines as part of the temporary classification procedure.
Classification of a variety takes the form of an order of the Ministry of Agriculture further to a favourable technical investigation by the services of FranceAgriMer and consultation with the Vine Section of the CTPS and the FranceAgriMer Specialist Council for Wine and Cider.
To be classified, a variety has to meet certain criteria, especially agronomic, concerning grape yield, suitability for vinification, organoleptic properties of the wines, adaptability to climate change, etc. Note also that the name of the variety must not be such as to mislead the consumer. All the classification criteria are set out in the ministerial order of 9 May 2016.
It can be observed that historically, from 1970 to 2015, the classification and the Catalogue were closely linked, both procedures falling within the authority of the Vine Section of the CTPS. Since 2016, in accordance with EU provisions, a new procedure has been implemented in France separating the two lists and how they are managed.
- Classification criteria: ministerial order of 9 May 2016 and its amendment of 7 March 2018.
- Application form for classification.
For grapevines as for many other cultivated species, the breeders invest in the creation of new varieties (intra- or interspecific) to meet new expectations on the part of growers and consumers. As for trademarks and patents, the protection of innovations resulting from research and creativity in the field of plant varieties is a strategic measure.
Since 1995, the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) has been the European body in charge of overseeing the application of the EU plant breeding protection system. It ensures exclusive intellectual property and exploitation rights for the new right varieties by granting plant variety rights (PVR) valid for the entire EU for a maximum duration of 30 years.
For international protection, an application must be made to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). If the protection being applied for is solely for France the procedure is similar, but the competent body, which is backed by GEVES, is INOV (French National Office for Plant Breeders’ Rights).
PVR protection is granted on the basis of a name which is valid according to current legislation (see below) and a DHS study of the candidate variety.
Note that the French and European vineyards are made up mostly of traditional varieties (ancient, historical, legacy) which are not protected by PVR. This is the case of all the emblematic French varieties, which today are widely grown all over the world.
- OCVV (French): https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/agencies/cpvo_fr
- CPVO (English): https://cpvo.europa.eu/
- Filing an application: https://www.geves.fr/catalogue-protection/
IV. Issues resulting from varietal names
Quite apart from any technical requirements, a variety has to have a name. This is proposed by breeders when they file an application for protection rights, or when they ask for a variety to be listed in the Catalogue and/or the national classification. Given the broad dissemination of grapevine varieties throughout history and across the continents, varieties are sometimes found under different names depending on the country or even winegrowing region where they are used. These names have become synonyms generally recognised nationally or internationally (the condition being the uniqueness of a grapevine’s genotype). The names of certain international varieties have sometimes also been translated or adapted to the languages of the countries where they are grown.
For the new varieties, the recommendations of the national and international authorities are that they cannot be approved under names that may result in confusion with existing varieties. Also, names containing geographical indications should not be used to avoid any confusion with protected geographical indications and protected designations of origin.
V. Role of the different bodies involved in the supervision of grapevine plant material
GEVES is a public interest group administered by the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE), the Ministry of Agriculture (MAA) and the National Interprofessional Organisation for Seeds and Plants (GNIS).
GEVES has official regulatory missions to fulfil: it sets up the studies required for the registration of new plant varieties in the official Catalogue, the legal protection of breeders’ rights and the certification of seeds prior to marketing in the case of species subject to regulatory certification. GEVES is in charge of the national coordination of plant genetic resources on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture. GEVES is the National Reference Laboratory for the detection and evaluation of seed and plant quality.
GEVES manages the bodies consulted prior to the registration of varieties in the Catalogues: the Permanent Technical Committee for Plant Breeding (CTPS).
The mission of the CTPS is to provide advice and technical support to the Ministry of Agriculture for the preparation and execution of policy on plant material, whether seeds or plants, in accordance with decree no. 2009-676 of 12 June 2009. Especially, it helps provide guidance and support for research and development projects on variety selection or the production and marketing of seeds and plants. Its objectives are to raise the efficiency and quality of agricultural and agro-industrial production, whether food or non-food, and to strengthen environmental protection. Created in 1942, CTPS is unique worldwide.
The CTPS has more than 800 scientific and technical experts involved in its projects. It guides public policy on genetic research with regard to innovation and orientation.
Its Plenary Committee is in charge of coordinating and orienting the work of the various CTPS bodies and developing legislation. This meets at least twice a year, bringing together some sixty representatives of the different areas of the public and private sectors with an interest in varieties, seeds and plants.
In the domain of varietal selection and seed production, its Scientific Committee provides advice and recommendations on the most recent scientific findings having a potential impact or application in the selection or assessment of varieties and seed quality. Made up of 16 leading scientists from the public and private sectors, it proposes research and development projects, draws up an annual call for projects, which is validated by the Plenary Committee, and holds restitution seminars for these projects.
Lastly, the CTPS is composed of 14 sections by species group, including the Vine Section, and one common-interest section covering several species, or groups of species, which is devoted to the conservation of the plant genetic resources.
The CTPS is tasked with managing the Official Catalogue of Plant Species and Varieties Cultivated in France, drawing up, proposing and implementing the technical regulations concerning registration in the Catalogue and, lastly, the control and implementation of the varietal and sanitary certification of seeds and plants.
Further information: CTPS, GEVES.
Like the thirteen other sections devoted to other plant species, the Vine Section of the CTPS is tasked, among other things, with: examining applications for registration in the Official Catalogue of Vine Varieties; developing the regulations concerning the Catalogue; certification; helping orient research into the creation of vine varieties.
The Vine Section of the CTPS is made up of 60 members representing the public and private-sector bodies involved in creating, disseminating and using vine varieties. It is led by a president and a technical secretary who are members of the CTPS Plenary Committee. It usually meets twice a year.
The Vine Section relies on its Catalogue Commission and its Control and Certification Commission for in-depth analysis of the applications and technical issues.
Further information: Vine Section of the CTPS, GEVES.
FranceAgriMer, the national organisation in charge of agricultural and seafood products, is the designated authority in charge of grapevine propagation materials, cuttings and plants.
The new European plant health regulations came into effect on 14 December 2019 with the aim of strengthening protection in Europe against plant pests and giving greater responsibility for this mission to the professional actors.
FranceAgriMer’s inspection work covers the production and marketing of vine cuttings and plants in the “initial”, “basic”, “certified” and “standard” categories. Certification is granted on the basis of field checks and the compulsory declarations made by the professionals at various stages. FranceAgriMer is able to fulfil this mission thanks to national coordination. Certification results in the issuing of a single certification label/European plant health passport.
From 2021, professional operators authorised by FranceAgriMer will be empowered to monitor their own plant material, which is crucial for the issuing of plant health passports, as long as they comply with all the other health and certification obligations.
Ultimately, FranceAgriMer ensures that the production and distribution of grapevine material is compliant with regulations by verifying that all stages are geared to ensuring that the propagation materials present the same genetic and sanitary characteristics as those of the original material from which they are derived.
The specialist councils of FranceAgriMer are in charge of monitoring and analysing market developments. Their task is to anticipate and characterise crises. They help shape policy on production and the organisation of the wine and cider sectors by monitoring the government support measures and proposing measures in relation to their sectors. They issue opinions on the development of public policy. The specialist councils are consulted, each in their own field, for advice on draft decisions by the director-general setting out the rules for intervention measures.
As places of dialogue and dynamic concertation, they help shape the economic orientation of these sectors. The results of their work are shared and made available to all on the body’s website.
The specialist councils are made up mostly of representatives of production, processing and marketing. The State, if necessary its public institutions, the regions, sector employees and consumers are also represented. The Wine and Cider Specialist Council has 60 members who usually meet 8 times a year.
It is asked to issue opinions on applications for grapevine variety classification following a positive outcome of the technical investigation by the services of FranceAgriMer.
The Wine and Cider Specialist Council is also asked to issue opinions on the management of wine potential in the context of the COM (Common Organisation of Markets), i.e. on the restrictions on new plantations, which are subject to an annual regime.
The Sector Committee for Vine Cuttings and Plants is responsible for matters relating to the certification of grapevine propagation material.
The main subjects dealt with by the committee are: sanitary issues in relation to the inspections carried out at every stage of certification; the inspections and how they are conducted; information sharing between the nursery professionals, the authority responsible for certifying grapevine propagation material and the other administrations.
Discussion of these topics takes into account the objectives of European and national wine policy subject to the remits of the Wine Section of the CTPS, the National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) and the FranceAgriMer Specialist Council for Wine and Cider.
To conduct its missions, the Sector Committee for Vine Cuttings and Plants may be required to examine additional topics, for example: the production potential of the stock nursery plantations and the sector’s production data, information about the import and export data of grapevine material and, generally, any subject to do with raising the competitiveness of the grapevine nursery sector.
Made up of around thirty members representing the grapevine nurseries, professional wine and wine trade organisations, technical and research institutes and public authorities concerned with grapevine material, the Sector Committee usually meets twice a year.
INOV’s missions are: to receive, record and process applications for plant variety rights for France and to oppose the granting of rights; to maintain the different registers relating to plant variety rights and to register and publish all documents concerning applications and the granting of rights; to publish the information relating to applications, the granting of rights and varietal names via the INOV Official Gazette (published electronically every month).
INOV liaises with all the competent authorities, including – on matters of varietal names and technical examinations – with UPOV, the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) and its examination services, as well as the foreign national bodies responsible for the protection of plant variety rights.
INOV participates in the drawing up of the regulatory texts relating to the protection of plant variety rights and in the drawing up and negotiation of international agreements to facilitate or improve this protection.
Further information: INOV, GEVES.