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Certification of alcohol produced in Georgia: new rules

Anna Davidson, Founder and Managing Partner of JUST Advisors
Amendments to the Law on Vine and Wine came into force in Georgia in 2023
February 2, 2023
Amendments to the law "On Vine and Wine" enters into force in Georgia in 2023. Since January 1, all alcoholic beverages intended for sale on the domestic market are subject to mandatory certification. The sale of draught wine and alcoholic beverages based on grapes without a certificate may entail a fine of GEL 1,000.

Wine Market in Georgia

Georgia ranks 14th in the list of world wine exporters. In 2022, his exports grew by 5%. According to a report by RBC Capital, 12 million decaliters of wine were produced in the country in 2021 (2019 was a record with its 14 million decaliters). Almost two―thirds of the drink is exported, the rest — to the domestic market. Georgian households mainly consume wine of their own production (99%).
By the way, although wine remains the most popular alcoholic beverage in Georgia (87% of total alcohol consumption in 2021), domestic consumption has been declining for many years. In 2021, 24 million liters were drunk in the country, this is the lowest figure in 10 years of statistics.
The retail price of bottled wine rose significantly in 2021 and continued to rise in 2022, although this price increase remains below the overall inflation in the country. The number of wineries is growing from year to year, but the profit of enterprises has been slowly declining since 2017. The worst indicators were, for obvious reasons, in 2020. The net profit in the wine sector is estimated at 22%.

What has changed in 2023?

Since January 1, 2023, an important innovation has appeared in the Law of Georgia "On Vine and Wine": mandatory certification of alcohol produced in the country, as well as wines and spirits with a protected designation of origin intended for sale on the consumer market of Georgia has been introduced. According to the amendments, a person who sells bottled wine on the local market is required to have a certificate of conformity of this wine.

Mandatory certification is subject to:
  • Any alcoholic beverages produced in Georgia and intended for sale on the domestic consumer market;

  • Alcoholic beverages intended for export and alcohol of all categories (except samples for export, if the samples are packaged in containers of less than 5 liters and the total volume does not exceed 100 liters);

  • Each batch of imported alcoholic beverages (except products imported from countries defined by the relevant government decree, as well as samples, if their total volume does not exceed 100 liters).

Only those manufacturers who strictly follow the rules of accounting and registration and whose technological processes have been tested in accordance with the current law will be able to obtain a certificate of conformity. The National Wine Agency issues certificates in accordance with the procedure established by the Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. As part of its activities, the Agency is authorized to exercise state supervision over the production, storage and sale of alcoholic beverages, alcohol, grafting material and planting material of grapes produced in Georgia, as well as certification of alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverages produced in Georgia intended for the domestic and foreign markets and imported into Georgia.

The sale of alcoholic and alcohol-containing products that do not have a certificate entails liability in accordance with the Code of Administrative Offences:
  • 1
    The sale on the consumer market of wine with a protected designation of origin without packaging and (or) a certificate is a fine of 1000 lari.
  • 2
    Repeated violation ― a fine of 2000 lari.

How do manufacturers get a certificate

A prerequisite for obtaining a certificate is the registration of a wine company with the Agency on the basis of an application submitted by it (registration is free) and in the register of economic activity (registration fee 39 GEL within 2 working days and 78 GEL on the same day).

Certification includes the following steps:

  1. Submission of an application for certification. Required data:

  • Information about the quantity and origin of alcoholic beverages, alcohol, grape juice in the winery at the time of filing the application;
  • A copy of the document confirming the purchase and/or gratuitous transfer of alcoholic beverages, alcohol, grape juice, if they are received from another person;
  • Sample/copy of the label that will be placed on the packaged container for alcoholic beverages;
  • If the products are exported, then an additional invoice is needed, which will necessarily indicate the weight of the cargo, as well as the exact name of the supplier, recipient and products in the appropriate language.

2. Sampling of alcoholic beverages.

The Applicant must independently take samples for certification. They must be marked and sealed, the procedure must be documented. The Applicant himself is responsible for the conscientious conduct of sampling.Samples can be taken after bottling in consumer containers; specifically for wine ― both before bottling and after. The certification process of products poured into consumer containers or placed in transport containers is carried out according to a sample selected from one batch. To obtain a laboratory test report, each batch, together with the application and the sampling certificate, is submitted to an accredited testing laboratory.

3. Laboratory examination of the sample.

Samples must be submitted to a laboratory with national or international accreditation. After the laboratory examination, a protocol is drawn up, which the laboratory transmits to the Agency. The test results must be certified with the seal of the laboratory and the signature of the appropriate authorized person. The sample is stored in the laboratory for 18 months.

4. Organoleptic check.

If the results of the laboratory analysis are positive, the samples are sent for verification by the Agency's tasting commission. Its conclusions are also formalized by the protocol and brought to the attention of the applicant. In case of a negative evaluation of the sample, it is possible to request a second tasting (but no more than three times from one batch). The service is paid ― 50 GEL. Organoleptic testing is not mandatory when certifying imported alcoholic beverages.

5. Confirmation of the presence of product residues in the wine company at the time of certification.

6. On-site inspection of products.

Verification can be carried out at any stage of certification or after obtaining a permit. Samples are also taken, an act of control selection is drawn up in two copies.
The key stages of verification for obtaining certificates are laboratory tests and organoleptic examination. If the discrepancy between the relative densities of the samples does not exceed 0.0006, the Agency issues a certificate, otherwise, in order to obtain a certificate, the Applicant must go through the certification stages again for a batch already packed in a container. The reason for refusal may also be the provision of incomplete or irrelevant data.

In case of a positive decision, the Applicant is issued a certificate of conformity, which is pre-registered with the Agency. The certificate can be issued on request in Georgian, English or Russian.

The validity period of the certificate is 18 months from the date of issue. During this time, it can be canceled only in case of unsatisfactory results of state or inspection control or at the request of the holder of the document.

The state fee for issuing a certificate of conformity of alcoholic beverages ranges from 40 to 300 lari, depending on the period:

  • 1 working day ― 300 GEL;
  • 2 working days ― 250 GEL;
  • 3 working days ― 150 GEL;
  • 4 or more working days ― 40 GEL.
The fee for issuing a certificate of conformity for wine produced in Georgia and intended for sale on the Georgian consumer market, including bottled wine, wine drink, grape spirits, grape spirits is: 1 working day — 100 lari, 2 working days — 50 lari, 3 or more working days — free of charge.
It is important to remember that the obligation to obtain a certificate lies with the manufacturer of alcoholic beverages, but the responsibility for the sale without a certificate lies with the seller (store, bar, restaurant).
If you need legal advice on business organization issues in Georgia, please contact us.

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MARIA GUSEINOVA
Leading Manager of Commercial Department