When purchasing a vineyard, it should also be ensured that existing vine plants have been approved under wine law. In principle, vines planted without a permit must be grubbed up. If the obligation to grub up is not complied with, sanctions follow.
Exemptions from the obligation to obtain a permit may apply, for example, to “hobby vineyards”.
If the corresponding planting permit is missing, this can lead to claims for defects by the buyer. Including an explicit provision in the purchase contract is advisable to avoid later disputes.
The authorization system for vine plantations in the EU came into force in 2016 per the Regulation on the Common Market Organization No. 1308/2013. It is further regulated by Regulation (EU) 2018/273 and the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/274 and implemented by the German Wine Act.
According to § 4 (1) of the German Wine Law, only grapes produced in domestic vineyards that are legally planted with vines may be used for making domestic wine and other products from domestic grapes. The planting must therefore have been approved.
There can be different situations when purchasing a vineyard. If the vineyard is legally cultivated, i.e. planted with vines, then the buyer can either continue to cultivate them or grub them up or have them grubbed up. In case of grubbing up, a replanting permit can be granted (§ 6 paragraph 1 of the Wine Act). A corresponding application is submitted to the competent state authority.
Depending on the federal state, a simplified procedure may be approved for this purpose. In this case, the replanting permit is deemed to have been granted retroactively on the day of grubbing up if the planting is carried out on the grubbed-up area within three years, and no application needs to be made. Instead, timely notification of grubbing up and replanting is sufficient.
If the land is not a planted vineyard, the buyer does not acquire a planting right. In this case, the buyer may, if necessary, transfer a replanting right existing on their own holding to the area in question since planting rights are no longer linked to the site but to the holding since 2016. Otherwise, the buyer must apply for a new planting permit from the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE). This period extends from January 1 to March 1 of any given year.