Verifying a wine standards management plan: what verifiers do

Find out what's involved to verify wine standards management plans (WSMPs) under the Wine Act 2003.

What verifiers focus on

Verifiers may focus on different requirements in a particular year. The requirements are listed in a verification scope. It always includes traceability of the wine.

The scope can be changed at any stage as long as the verifier of the WSMP:

  • informs the business
  • explains the reason for the change.

Sometimes an item listed in the scope can't be verified during the verification visit.

In those cases, the verification can still be completed as long as other areas in the scope comply. There is no need to book a return visit. The missed items can be checked next time.

Freedom and access to verify a WSMP

When wine businesses sign their WSMP outline, they agree to give their verifier:

  • access to all winemaking places and facilities, documents, and records
  • freedom to examine, mark or identify wine, winemaking inputs, equipment, or other things within scope of the WSMP.

But a verifier does not have the power to remove items from a winery or to stop production.

Operator obligations are detailed in clause 24 of the Wine (Specifications) Notice 2006 [PDF, 69 KB]

If verifier access is prevented

If the verifier isn't given access, they advise their recognised agency and MPI. That is explained in part 4.4 of the Wine Notice: Recognised Agencies and Persons [PDF, 365 KB]

Carrying out verification

Verifiers need to be familiar with what's required when:

  • meeting with a new wine business for the first time (the start-up meeting)
  • deciding verification outcomes, including managing corrective action requests
  • handling the WSMP operator's right of review
  • doing performance-based verification.

These functions and activities – and what is defined as a new business – are detailed in the Notice of Direction under Section 57(1) of the Wine Act 2003 [PDF, 32 KB]

Start-up meeting

Verifiers need to cover certain subjects in the start-up or entry meeting with a new wine business. Our checklist has the items to cover. Or verifiers can develop their own checklists.

WSMP verification – Entry meeting checklist [PDF, 149 KB]

Outcomes of WSMP verification

At the end of every verification visit, the verifier will give an outcome. It will either be acceptable or unacceptable. The decision is based on objective evidence.

Acceptable outcome

An acceptable outcome is when the the verifier is satisfied the winemaker is meeting:

  • New Zealand regulatory requirements
  • relevant export requirements.

Any non-compliances must not be critical or meet the criteria for an unacceptable outcome.

When only export requirements are not met

If all requirements are met other than export requirements, it may still be possible for the operator to sell wine in New Zealand. These situations are considered on a case-by-case basis.

For more information, email wine.query@mpi.govt.nz

Unacceptable outcome

An unacceptable outcome is when the verifier is not satisfied the winemaker is meeting regulatory requirements. Reasons could be:

  • the winemaker has failed to identify or effectively address a critical non-compliance
  • there are numerous non-compliances that collectively prevent the verifier from having confidence in the operation
  • the required records are absent, incomplete, or have been altered to a degree that prevents the verifier from having confidence in the system
  • the verifier determines that the WSMP is no longer appropriate to the operation.

A verifier must explain in their report how the evidence shows that the outcome is unacceptable.

Definitions of acceptable and unacceptable outcomes are in the Wine Notice: Recognised Agencies and Persons [PDF, 365 KB]

Reviewing an unacceptable outcome

Wine operators can ask for a review of an unacceptable outcome decision. Requests should be sent to MPI within 21 days of the verification visit.

Requests can emailed to wine.query@mpi.govt.nz

What are critical non-compliances?

Critical non-compliances are those that make it reasonably likely to cause:

  • hazards in the wine
  • false or misleading labelling
  • access to export markets to be jeopardised.

Traceability requirements are also essential. Any of the following may result in a critical non-compliance:

  • missing records
  • non-registration
  • incorrect WSMP details.

All critical non-compliances must be reported to MPI within 24 hours of the verification visit.

Reporting for wine standards management plan verification

Critical and export non-compliance of wine

Corrective action requests

When a verifier identifies a non-compliance, a corrective action request is issued. The corrective action will need to be completed by the date set by the verifier.

Verifier recommendations

Sometimes a non-compliance may be identified that is not associated with Wine Act requirements. In those cases, a verifier might make a recommendation. This helps the operator with best practice for meeting a regulatory requirement, or it can help to make compliance easier or more efficient.

How often verifications happen

Verifications for businesses operating under a WSMP range between one and 3 years. If you make wine for export or intend to export, then your WSMP must be verified annually. If you do not make wine for export, verification is based on performance.

Frequency of verifications is detailed in the Notice of Direction under Section 57(1) of the Wine Act 2003 [PDF, 32 KB] [PDF, 32 KB]

Who to contact

If you have questions about verifying a WSMP, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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