Italian wine producers say their growth plans are being hampered by new rules which came into force across Europe last year. Silvio Antonioli reports.
Chianti, Brunello and Vermentino Lamberto Frecobaldi's family has been producing fine wines in this central Italian valley for 30 generations. But the future isn't looking fruitful. Lamberto wanted to extend his Tuscan vineyard by 300,000 square metres this year But was only granted 9,000. New EU rules introduced last year limit annual growth in vineyards to 1 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WINE PRODUCER, LAMBERTO FRESCOBALDI, SAYING: "We cannot really grow as we wanted and we have to do something different, we have to find our planting rights in a different way." The rules were the result of years of negotiations. Italy, fellow wine powerhouse France and others, feared too much market freedom would depress prices and threaten quality. But producers now say the limit has become unmanageable, because there have been so many new requests from landowners keen to switch to growing valuable grapes. The Italian Wines Union says 90 percent of applications last year were to convert land currently planted with seed crops. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) WINE PRODUCER, LAMBERTO FRESCOBALDI, SAYING: "I wouldn't mind if the percentage wasn't restricted to just one percent - the same for every European country. In Italy there is potential for growth of three or four percent. A bit of flexibility would be good - the one percent rule is too rigid." It's been a difficult year all round for Italian wine - a freezing spring and scorching summer looks set to reduce annual output by a quarter to 40 million hectolitres But they'll still be world's biggest wine producer, with an annual turnover of around 10 billion euros.