The Vine and Wine Law establishes various quality levels for Spanish wines, ranging from table wine, the lowest level, to the highest quality level, established under the denomination of origin “Vino de Pago”.
In accordance with this regulation, “payment” is understood as the rural area or site with its own soil and microclimate characteristics that differentiate it and distinguish it from others in its environment, known by a name linked in a traditional and notorious way to the cultivation of vineyards. from which wines with unique traits and qualities are obtained and whose maximum extension will be limited by regulation by the competent Administration, in accordance with the characteristics of each autonomous community and may not be equal to or greater than that of any of the municipal terms in which territory or territories, if more than one, is located.
It is understood that there is a notorious link with the cultivation of the vineyards, when the name of the payment has been used regularly in the market to identify the wines obtained in it for a minimum period of five years. In addition, they must have previously belonged to a DO for at least 10 years.
On the other hand, according to the regulations, if the entire payment is included in the territorial scope of a qualified designation of origin, the payment may receive the name of “Qualified Payment Wine”, and the wines produced in it will be called “qualified payment”, provided that it proves that it meets the requirements for wines of the qualified appellation of origin and is registered in it.
Pago wines must be made and bottled by individuals or companies that, by themselves or through their partners, hold ownership of the vineyards located in the pago. Exceptionally and if the Administration authorizes it by regulation, it may be produced in wineries located in the vicinity of the payment that must be located in one of the municipal terms through which the payment wine is spread or in the adjoining ones.
As for the grapes, all the grapes that are used for the paid wine must come from vineyards located in the determined payment and the wine must be made, stored and, where appropriate, aged separately from other wines.
The ‘Law of Vine and Wine’ also establishes that a comprehensive quality system will be implemented in the production of estate wines, which will be applied from the production of the grapes to the placing of the wines on the market. This system must meet, as a minimum, the same requirements established for qualified appellations of origin, which will include internal and external controls or audits.
Each paid wine must have a management body, which can be the same winery or private company that owns the vineyard. However, the legislation of the autonomous communities may exonerate from this obligation those paid wines whose number of operators is less than the figure to be determined.