The vine post

Vine importing in post-Brexit Britain.

Although we have left the European Union, our dependency on some of its services, products and people have not diminished. 

With another big planting season coming up, Britain’s Vineyard Establishment companies are holding their breath. Since Britain left the EU, new restrictions have been placed on vine imports from Europe. New processes for the import of vines from European nurseries mean that vine importers, like Vine-Works Ltd, need to adhere to an evolving landscape of restrictions, complications and new government policies with an added complexity of time sensitive Phytosanitary Certificates and UK plant passports. 

Why buy vines from Europe?

Be in no doubt, the reason major producers and Vineyard Establishment businesses use European vines is quality and availability. Vine quality is paramount to the success of a vineyard. Correct grafting procedures, good vine heritage and nursery reputation define how we choose our vine producers. Selecting the right nursery allows Vine-Works to stand behind its work and address any quality issues with our suppliers. This vine quality comes from Europe and will do so until the climate in Britain warms enough to establish more nurseries in this country. Poor graft unions and unregulated nursery practice is by far the most prominent reason for vine failure. Good nursery phytosanitary procedures help to limit the spread of ‘Trunk Disease’ but often those conditions will not present for many years, if at all. 

Can we still buy vines from Europe?

Yes, we can but its far more complicated than it used to be. This is the procedure we have experienced to secure vines this year.

  • Register for an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number: This number will be associated with your business and will be used when you move goods between Great Britain and anywhere else in the world. 
  • Appoint a customs agent to operate within the Customs Handling or Import and Export Freight systems: You can get by without one of these agents, but they will save you time and potential catastrophe by getting a company who knows the law and legislation inside out. 
  • Check your nursery has the correct licences and certificates for export to the UK: The nurseries we use don’t just export to Britain. Canada is a big importer of vines and although the new import processes are taking us time to gets to grips with, our vine suppliers have been following strict export procedures for years.
  • Register your business as a vine importer on the Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates (PEACH) system: The PEACH systems allow for vine imports to be checked before they cross the border. DEFRA, who manage this system, will check the validity of the consignments before approving them.
  • Ask your nursery for a phytosanitary certificate – two week expiry:  When you have confirmed your vine order, the nursery in Europe will need to get their local plant health authority inspector to approve the quality and health of the vines. Once done so, the nursery will issue the vine importer with a phytosanitary certificate and details of the vine order weight and dimensions. This information is then entered on to the PEACH system for approval.
  • Get the vine across the border: If the vine consignment has been approved by DEFRA, you can take delivery to your APHA, (Animal & Plant Health Agency) ‘registered destination’ cold store, pending inspection. Vines arrive from the nursery in a dormant state, which it is crucial to maintain until it reaches your cold store. Any delays at port could result in these vines emerging prematurely, which would be a disaster. 

This process has become laborious, time consuming, complex and needs to be executed perfectly. But it’s all worth it to bring in the best quality vines we can for our plantings. 

The good news is, we are not the only importer of vines and we have been working together with WineGB, DEFRA and Vineyard Establishment colleagues to ensure this new import process will not hinder Britain’s growth as a wine producing country. 

Just to give ourselves one less thing to worry about, Vine-Works will take delivery of our own planting machine this Spring. Happily, our German contractor will be planting with us to cover the country a little quicker.

 If you’re looking to import vines in 2022, Vine-Works is now a registered UK Vine Importer and authorised to issue plant passports.

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