Guidance on verifying a wine standards management plan
Find out more about what a verifier does to verify a wine standards management plan (WSMP). Guidance includes scope, winemaking records, standard operating procedures, HACCP, and exporting.
Scope of WSMP verification
Verifiers develop their own scope. This allows flexibility in what is checked during the verification visit. However, there are some key areas that must always be verified, including traceability.
If you have listed an item in the scope, but are unable to observe it during the verification visit, you can still complete the verification and assign an outcome. However, you must be confident that all other areas in the scope comply.
There is no need to go back before the next scheduled verification visit to cover items in the scope you were unable to verify. They can be checked during the next verification.
Checking winemaking records
Chemicals and winemaking inputs
Part of the WSMP verifier's role is to check that the WSMP operator can demonstrate the suitability of chemicals and winemaking inputs.
The supplier provides information to the WSMP operator about suitability and food grade status of these. The information can be in the form of:
- product information sheets
- product specifications
- information and instructions on packaging
- material safety-data sheets.
If contamination has occurred, the WSMP operator must provide records of the contamination and any actions taken to manage it. If there are no contamination records, the verifier may wish to ask the operator and their staff if checks are made for signs of contamination.
The post-bottling reconciliation checks that the quantity of grapes received at the winery matches the volume of wine that has been bottled. The verifier needs to reconcile wine volumes (in litres) with the weight of incoming grapes (in tonnes). The result, expressed as litres per tonne, depends on:
- the grape variety
- the wine style – for example, hard press versus soft press.
For a small winery, a verifier might do the post-bottling reconciliation for the total production. For larger wineries, a sample could be applied to the entire operation.
A verifier might ask the WSMP operator about the volume of wine used for personal consumption. This may affect the outcome of the post-bottling reconciliation.
Checking standard operating procedures
Most wineries require only 2 standard operating procedures (SOPs), which are outlined in the approved codes of practice. These are for:
- breakages on the bottling line
WSMP operators comply if they are following these 2 procedures. They do not have to implement other procedures. Larger wineries may choose to have additional SOPs.
Where it is relevant, a verifier might question staff during the verification to see if:
- they know about the SOPs
- they have applied them.
For example, in the case of a winemaker making wine and not bottling, the procedure for managing breakages on the bottling line is not applicable.
Checking Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) provides generic HACCP plans developed by a technical expert for:
- grape winemakers
- fruit and vegetable wine, cider, and mead makers.
If winery staff don't understand the requirements of HACCP, this is not grounds for a non-compliance or an unacceptable outcome. The verifier can recommend to the WSMP operator that staff should:
- be aware of the HACCP plan
- have access to the HACCP document.
No critical control points in the winemaking process
No critical control points have been identified in the production of grape wine and fruit wine, cider, and mead. The control of hazards at key steps should be adequately addressed by good hygiene and operating practices.
Operators with other HACCP plans
WSMP operators may have specific plans as part of private standards, such as:
- British Retail Consortium (BRC)
- Woolworths Quality Assurance (WQA)
These plans aren't Wine Act 2003 requirements, so a verifier can't issue a non-compliance or critical non-compliance if the operator fails to meet the requirements of these plans.
Checking export requirements
Where applicable, export requirements and compliance with Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs) are checked during the WSMP verification.
Who to contact
If you have questions about WSMPs, email firstname.lastname@example.org