Circular 6/2017. Harvest Season Standards

Article 17 h) 2º of Act 6/2015, of 12 May 2015, on Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications of supra-regional territorial scope includes, among the functions of the management body, with respect to the provisions of articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to adopt, in the terms provided for in the Common Agricultural Policy and within the framework of the applicable specifications, for each season, according to criteria of defending and improving quality, the maximum limits of production and processing or the authorisation of any aspect of annual situation that may influence these processes.

The Designation Specifications of the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja, PDO-ESA0117, is the mandatory document for operators under the DOCa Rioja, which sets out that the Control Board will determine the Harvest Season Standards. The standards ensure wine quality optimisation, proper use of Grape Grower’s Cards and compliance with both maximum permitted production and maximum grape-to-wine ratios for each harvest.

For its part, the aforementioned Act 6/2015, in its article 21, provides that operators, in each and every one of the production and processing stages, must set up a documented system of self-control of the operations of the production process carried out under their responsibility, in order to comply with the provisions of the respective specific legislation and ensure compliance with the specifications of the products as well as any other provision that may be applicable.

By virtue of the precepts set forth, and in accordance with the decision of the Control Board Plenary of 24 July 2017, the following Harvest Season Standards have been adopted:

    1. The Control Board has established the compulsory use of a card with a memory chip, called Grape Grower’s Card (hereinafter the card), which certifies the ownership of vineyards registered in the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja.
    2. The card is for personal use of its owner and non-transferable, and can only be used for the exclusive delivery of the production from its registered vineyards, the use of the card for production transactions of other holders being prohibited, even for reasons of kinship, sharecropping, or other similar reasons.
    3. The card, which must be enabled, must be presented in each grape delivery. Grapes shall not be admitted into a winery without the relevant card. Failure to comply with any of the obligations regarding the use of the card will mean the non-protection of affected grape consignments.
    4. Ownership of the card, whenever required, must be accredited with an identity document, shown to the Control Board Harvest Helper (person appointed by the Control Board to supervise the weighing and delivery of grapes), so that the person transporting the grapes will have to bear both the card and the card owner’s ID (or photocopy thereof). In this regard, we remind you of the obligation of the grape transporter to carry both documents. It is common practice for registered owners to cultivate or manage the harvest of the holdings of other owners. In order to standardise this practice and comply with the provisions of the previous point, it will be allowed for up to 5 different owners or a maximum of 50 hectares of vineyards, provided that the requirements indicated in the following paragraph are met. Before the 10 August, a request has to be submitted to the Control Board that it recognise the multiple harvest manager, indicating the owners of the vineyards to which the service is provided. For this purpose, legitimation of their signatures will be provided via notary public or by any other equally reliable means. The owners of the vineyards and the multiple manager who represents them and provides the service, will expressly assume the fulfilment of duties and obligations with respect to the use of the affected Grape Grower’s Cards. Non-accreditation of the set requirements or non-acceptance of the condition of multiple harvest manager of holdings by the Control Board for control reasons, will prevent access to it. The registered owner who represents the rest of the owners of the holdings he manages will be responsible for the use and custody of the individual Grape Grower’s Cards. Insofar as they are personal and non-transferable, the multiple manager may only use them for the exclusive delivery of the production from the holdings in question, the use of the card for production transactions of holders other than the signatories being prohibited, even for reasons of kinship, sharecropping, or other similar reasons.
    5. Two tickets will be issued for each grape delivery, one for the card holder and, another, for the Winery. The tickets will show the owner’s code, receiving winery, municipality, quantity of grape delivered, colour of the grape, variety, condition, sum of total quantities of grapes, by colour, until that moment, and the remaining balance until the maximum allowed is reached.
    6. The card is valid for successive campaigns, so the owner must keep it in their possession once the harvest is over. It will be updated and enabled, when the mandatory fee is paid, automatically, with the first delivery of the following season.

In case of loss of the card, its owner must notify the Control Board forthwith.

The Control Board may update the card information at any time, by virtue of the changes that may affect the Register of Vineyards whose information supports the card.

    1. The maximum quantity subject to protection for each owner, in this harvest season, is the result of applying a production of 7,475 kg/ha for red varieties and 10,350 kg/ha for white varieties set by the Control Board Plenary for this harvest season to the hectares registered as productive. Protected production must fall within these yields.
    2. The grape production yields set by the Control Board Plenary will be accounted for separately and independently for the red varieties and for the white varieties, with a detail of both, for reasons of traceability, and in justification of their possible mention on the label. As a result of this individual treatment, there will be no protection for compensation between colours, both in the case of grapes and in the case of wine resulting from their processing.
    3. Grape-to-wine ratios subject to protection for this harvest season will be 72 %.
    4. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the maximum number of litres of wine that can be made with 100 kilograms of harvest is set at 74.
    5. For consideration in the production of wine protected by the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja, production obtained must comply with the Designation Specifications and current legislation, the decisions in this regard by the Control Board Plenary and the holding of the owner can not be in an irregular situation.
    1. Grape consignments from plots with excessive production not included in the Designation Specifications and in the decisions adopted by the Control Board Plenary will lose the right to protection. To this end, the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service will carry out inspections to detect vineyards with a productive load higher than that set out for this harvest season. The review of vineyards shall be carried out combining random and productivity criteria and will take place at or near veraison, so that cluster thinning can take place at an early stage, this being the appropriate time for such practice to have a positive effect on harvest quality. Owners of vineyards in which high production expectations are verified, will be required by the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service to adjust production to the maximum yield set for this harvest season, with a deadline to be notified in advance. A subsequent inspection by the Empowered Overseers Service will determine whether the situation has been corrected and, if not, the grape grower will be notified of the fact. Should high production expectations be confirmed, a report will be made by the Overseer and the necessary steps will be taken to remove protection for the affected plot.
    2. Crop reduction derived from cluster thinning will not be taken into account if carried out on dates subsequent to the second visit by the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service. When the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service observes that one or more plots have suffered very high losses in production due to weather or crop conditions, the maximum yield subject to protection will be reviewed, depending on the possibilities of production recovery, for the purpose of fixing and notifying each owner, in view of the immediately approaching harvest and consequently updating the data on the Grape Grower’s Card. With regard to the 2017/2018 growing season harvest and for the general knowledge of affected owners, based on the results of the verifications made in the field based on the evidence of the situation of the crop, the Maximum Yield Subject to Protection of the plots whose registration number is detailed in Annex II of these Standards is revised. It is determined that the Maximum Yield Subject to Protection in the plots referred to in Annex II a) will be 4,550 kg/ha for red varieties and 6,300 kg/ha for white varieties and that the Maximum Yield Subject to Protection in the plots referred to in Annex II b) will be 5,850 kg/ha for red varieties and 8.100 kg/ha for white varieties. For ease of reference, this information also appears on case of disagreement with the maximum yield, the owner may request, in writing, a new review of the vineyards by the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service.
    3. Likewise, when the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service determines that a municipality will have average production significantly below set yields, it will propose that the Control Board Plenary apply additional control measures on the Grape Grower’s Card to adjust it to actual production. Instead, the Empowered Overseers Service may close ordinary harvest and set up from the start compulsory weighing of grapes at source and destination.
    1. All registered wineries, including those of winemaking growers, that are going to vinify grapes this harvest season, have to notify the Control Board of the fact, in writing, at least 48 hours in advance (24 hours when there is a Harvest Helper already at the weighing scale) or 72 hours in advance, when the grapes are to start arriving on a weekend or holiday, indicating the start date for grape collection, including incoming courtyards.
    2. When a grape grower delivers grapes to more than one winery, the Control Board Inspection Service has to be notified in writing about the date when deliveries are to start in the second winery (and successive wineries, as the case may be), at least 48 hours in advance or 72 hours when the start of delivery falls on a weekend or holiday.
    3. Likewise, the Control Board must be informed of the incoming schedule for grapes, including midday stops, if any. We urge winemaking wineries to adjust the arrival schedules as much as possible, in order to optimise the mandatory presence of Harvest Helpers. If there are exceptional cases of extended or reduced schedules, breakdowns, weather conditions or interruptions in the harvesting of grapes for any reason, the Empowered Overseers Service should be informed forthwith, in order to take appropriate measures. It is also mandatory to notify the resumption of grape arrivals. It must be borne in mind that, wherever there is a Harvest Helper, all the grapes must be weighed in their presence and with their approval. Deliveries that do not comply with this requirement are not allowed.
    1. The delivery of grapes in a winery registered with the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja requires prior weighing in the presence of a Control Board Harvest Helper. Owners of vineyards who vinify their own grapes and do not have a scale at their winery will weigh their grapes at the municipal scale of the town where the winery is located. If there is not such scale, this should be carried out in another scale in the town, or in the municipal scale of the nearest town, always fulfilling the requirement of the presence of the Harvest Helper, who should be able to take down the details of the weighing with a direct view of the electronic display of the scales.
    2. In order to allow for the chance of adverse weather at the end of the growth cycle, growers are allowed to deliver grapes in excess of Maximum Yield Subject to Protection by up to 325 kg/ha for red grapes and 450 kg/ha for white grapes. Said amounts will not be protected.
    3. In accordance with the Designation Specifications, all the grapes from plots whose yields are higher than the authorised limit will lose the right to the protection of the Designation and may not be used to make protected wines. The Control Board shall take such steps as are necessary to ensure compliance. The Control Board will carry out this control in each holding, that is, on all the vineyards of the same owner located in the production area of the DOCa Rioja. However, in order to assure compliance with maximum authorised yields, the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service may perform vineyard plot volume assessments, in accordance with the procedure set out in the “Yield Control” section.
    4. The potential alcoholic strength of the grapes will be checked at the time of delivery in the grape delivery centres. Grapes not complying with minimum levels will lose the right of protection. In case of disagreement with the result of measurements, the owner of the Grape Grower’s Card may request a second analysis. The second analysis will be carried out using a reliable method, to which purpose the Control Board shall provide the Overseer empowered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment with a manual refractometer, or hydrometer, other than the one used to get the first result, in the same place and on the same batch before unloading. In this second analysis, the stakeholder may be assisted by a competent technician. Once the load has been recorded on the Grape Grower’s Card, the options available, at the receiver’s discretion, are either to unload the grapes and separately make wine with it that will not be protected or else not to take delivery of the grapes in the winery. In the latter case, the destination of the grapes should be indicated.
    5. A weighing ticket is issued for each consignment of grapes received individually according to the type of grape: red or white and grape variety. Deliveries are to be made separately and independently for red and white varieties, with details on varieties, for reasons of traceability, and in case they are mentioned on the label.
    6. When the grapes come from mechanical harvesting, this circumstance will be indicated to the Weighing Supervisor in order to increase the weight by 3%, which is be the figure to be noted down. Likewise, the re-expedition of destemmed grapes between registered wineries will be increased on the Re-shipment Card by 5% on the net amount transferred.
    7. In each grape delivery, the weighing will be complemented with the transport vehicle tare weight.
    8. Only grapes from registered vineyards and must or wine from registered wineries may be introduced in Control Board registered wineries.
    9. Any incident regarding grape deliveries from which a subsequent claim may arise must be reported to the Control Board expressly and in writing within 48 hours. Under no circumstances will claims be admitted when such procedure is not complied with.
    1. It is mandatory to weigh the grapes at source and destination in the presence of a Harvest Helper, when the delivery or unloading by the grower takes place other than where the grapes will be vinified (for example: incoming courtyards).For transporting of these grapes, the Transport Card will be mandatory.
    2. Likewise, the weighing at source and destination of the grapes that are forwarded to another winery will be mandatory, being in this case necessary to extend the relevant document for expedition, which must be endorsed by the Harvest Helper, and prior authorisation to transfer must be requested from the Control Board, a copy of which shall be carried in the transport vehicle.
    3. It should also be weighed at source and destination and in the presence of the Harvest Helper from the date the harvest is closed by the Empowered Overseers Service from the location of the vineyard, provided that the grapes are not produced in that town.
    1. All those registered, whether grape growers or winemakers, are reminded of the obligation they have to facilitate the work of Harvest Helpers and other hired technicians, in their capacity as employees of this Control Board, and to provide them with required harvest documents; and that preventing or hindering their action will be considered a minor, serious, or very serious violation, as the case may be, in accordance with the provisions of articles 30 e), 31.1 d) and 32. 1 a) and b) of Act 6/2015, of 12 May 2015, on Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications of supra-regional territorial scope.
    2. When the usual reception schedule is modified for any circumstance, it must be notified to the Harvest Helper so that they can ensure they are present at the scale when the grapes come in.
    When the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service confirms an early harvest in most of the municipality, the Control Board may terminate the normal harvest for that town and start the extraordinary harvest, taking into account unharvested vineyards; in which case, the interested party will notify the Control Board Technical Service before picking the grapes, providing the estimated production data and location, and polygon and plot location of the vineyard, such harvest being subject to such checks as are considered appropriate. As of the closing of the harvest, section 6.3 of these Standards is applicable. In the same way, when the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service sees a very high yield loss in a municipal area, due to different circumstances, comparable to an early harvest, it will be possible to set, from the beginning, the harvest closing and the start of the extraordinary harvest, in the terms referred to in the previous paragraph.
    1. Failure to comply with the regulations in force and the decisions of the Control Board will entail the loss of the right to protect the grapes, regardless of the financial penalty that may arise from disciplinary proceedings.
    2. Likewise, failure to comply with the provisions for the weighing of the grapes will result in the loss of protection for such grapes and the filing of relevant proceedings.
    3. Likewise, the total yield of those plots with excessive productions not contemplated in the Designation Specifications and those batches of grapes that do not reach the characteristics established therein will not be protected.
    1. Grape Grower’s Card owners are reminded that the card is valid for successive campaigns, so they must keep it in their possession once the harvest is over. The Grape Grower’s Card will be automatically updated and enabled, when the mandatory fee is paid with the first delivery of the following season.
    2. The data of the grape deliveries processed with the Grape Grower’s Card will be sent to each owner, constituting the mandatory Harvest affidavit to the Control Board for those owners who do not make wine.
    3. The grape growers who vinify all, or part, of their harvest, must submit their harvest and vinification affidavits to the Control Board
    4. Cooperative wineries, in addition to their vinification affidavits, will send the Control Board a list of members, with data on grape location, kilos of white grapes, kilos of red grapes and total grapes.
    5. Commercial wineries, in addition to their vinification affidavits, will send the Control Board a list of vendors, with data on grape provenance, kilos of red grapes, kilos of white grapes, total kilos per variety and total kilos of grapes.
    6. To facilitate the preparation of the Vinification Affidavit, or to consult production data, the Control Board has set up a microsite ( where each operator can access with their password to consult their individual data.

Logroño, 24 July 2017.



Fernando Salamero Laorden




  • Only healthy grapes can be employed in the vinification of protected wines having a minimum natural potential alcohol content of 11% vol. for red grapes and 10,5% vol. for white grapes. Red and white grapes should be delivered separately for each partial delivery or weighing.
  • The maximum production subject to protection set by the Control Board Plenary for this year was 7,475 kg per hectare for red grapes and 10,350 kg per hectare for white grapes.
  • For this vintage, the Control Board Plenary established that, in the transformation of grape into wine, suitable pressure should be applied to ensure the yield does not exceed 72 litres per 100 kilograms of authorised grapes, whether red or white.
  • The types of wines protected by the Rioja Designation of Origin are: Reds, Rosés and Whites with a minimum actual alcoholic strength of 11.5% for reds and 10.5% for whites and rosés.
  • Mixing these types of wines to obtain a type of wine which is different to the mixed wines is expressly prohibited.
  • The maximum percentage of white grapes in the vinification of red wines is 5% in the case destemmed grapes and 15% in the case of whole clusters. In the latter case, prior written notice to the Control Board stating the volume to be vinified is required (Official Circular Letter No. 6/01 of 08/06/01).
  • The maximum percentage of white grapes used to make rosé wines is 75%
  • Authorised red wines are required to have the following colour levels (Official Circular Letter No. 6/01 of 06/08/01):
    • Minimum colour intensity (A420 + A520 + A620): 3.5 if malolactic fermentation has taken place (maximum 0.5 g/l malic acid).
    • Minimum colour intensity (A420 + A520 + A620): 4 if malolactic fermentation has not taken place.
    • Minimum total polyphenol index:
  • Authorised rosé wines should have a colour intensity between 0,2 and 1,8 resulting from the sum of parameters A420 + A520 + A620 (Plenary decision of 9 April 2010)
  • Scales and refractometers have to meet the requirements set out in Act 32/2014 on Metrology. Such equipment should be accompanied by documents showing that they are verified by a competent body