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CLASSIFICATION or CONTROLLED APPELLATION systems to designate and delimit areas of vineyard that consistently produce quality wine began in Ancient Greece. Various attempts to authenticate wine origin and prevent counterfeiting have been instituted through centuries of wine commerce. Modern schemes in place today emerged from tragedies that beset the final three decades of the nineteenth century.

Vine diseases and pests that were accidentally introduced there from America nearly devastated all of the best-proven vineyards in Europe. These diseases included Downy Mildew and Powdery Mildew, and most damaging of all, the root louse Phylloxera. The European wine industry was very near ruin before measures were found to deal with these problems.

In the intervening years, the available quantity of the fine wine was reduced to a trickle just as the Industrial Revolution began spreading prosperity and the demand for wines of historical quality reached an all-time high. Fraud and adulteration were rampant and widespread until the European governments passed series of laws in the beginning of the 20th Century aimed at ending these deceptions and thereby restoring and preserving consumer confidence.

Each major wine producing country has a system for identifying, delineating and classifying vineyard appellations, and regulating wine production, along with an official agency for administrating these designations and rules. Most of these appwllation schemes are works-in-progress, but the French system of A.O.C. serves as a model of comprehensiveness and relative stability. The French A.C. reaches beyond strict delimitation of boundaries to also place limitations on vine varieties and production techniques and therefore draws criticism for being too over-bearing in proscribing innovation and experimentation.

European Union Quality Wines Produced in Specified Regions Q.W.P.S.R.
France Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée A.C. or A.O.C.
Italy Denominazione de Origine Controllata D.O.C.
Germany Einzellagen n/a
Spain Denominación de Origen D.O.
Portugal Denominaçâo de Origem Controlada D.O.C.
U.S.A. American Viticultural Areas A.V.A.
Australia, New Zealand (no official controlled appellation systems) (n/a)
Argentina, Chile (no official controlled appellation systems) (n/a)


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