Guidance on verifying a wine standards management plan
Clarifying parts of the role of a Wine Standards Management Plans (WSMPs) verifier under the Wine Act 2003. Guidance includes scope, winemaking records, standard operating procedures, HACCP, and exporting.
This guidance has been developed in response to queries from verifiers, recognised agencies, and winemakers. The topics covered have been discussed with MPI during workshops, teleconferences, phone calls, and emails.
Scope of WSMP verification
Verifiers develop their own scope, which allows flexibility in what is checked during the verification visit. 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.
Records of winemaking
Chemicals and winemaking inputs
During verification you need to check that the Wine Standards Management Plan (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.
The WSMP operator must provide contamination records only if a contamination has occurred. If no contamination has occurred, then there will be no contamination records. You may wish to question the operator and their staff during the verification to find out 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. You need 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, seasonality, and the wine style – for example, hard press versus soft press.
For a small winery, you may be able to do the post-bottling reconciliation for the total production. For larger wineries, you may need to take a sample and apply this to the entire operation in order to determine whether the quantity of grapes received matches the volume of wine being made. You may want to ask the WSMP operator about the volume of wine used for personal consumption, as this may affect the outcome of the post-bottling reconciliation.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
Most wineries require only 2 SOPs which are outlined in the approved codes of practice (COPs). 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, although larger wineries may choose to have additional SOPs.
Where it is relevant, question staff during the verification to see whether they know about the SOPs and whether 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.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
The generic HACCP plans provided by MPI for grape winemakers and fruit wine, cider and mead makers, were developed by a technical expert and no critical non-compliances were identified in the winemaking process.
If winery staff do not understand the requirements of HACCP, this is not grounds for a non-compliance or an unacceptable outcome. You can recommend to the WSMP operator that staff should be aware of HACCP and have access to the HACCP document.
Operators with other HACCP plans
You may have clients with British Retail Consortium (BRC) or Woolworths Quality Assurance (WQA) accreditation who have specific HACCP plans as part of these programmes. You cannot issue a non-compliance or critical non-compliance where they fail to meet the requirements of these plans as they are not Wine Act requirements.
Auditing winemaker records no longer required
Export record-keeping audits are no longer required. Where applicable, export requirements and compliance with Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs) are checked during the WSMP verification.