A leading figure in Australia's wine industry has attacked a proposal that wine should be classified in two broad categories - 'natural agricultural' and 'artificial industrial' because it discriminates against New World wine.

The proposal, made at the general assembly of the Office International du Vin earlier this year, has been slammed by the general manager of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, Sam Tolley.

It was an attempt to label New World wines as 'just another beverage' he said before addressing the annual conference of the Victorian Winemakers' Association.

'The attributes of natural versus artificial don't appropriately reflect differences in winemaking techniques between the Old World and the New World,' he said.

Tolley told the Conference that the proposal, made by outgoing OIV President, Fernando Bianche de Aguira, epitomised the divide that separated the two worlds.

He said that the differences were mainly regulatory, indicating that despite 'a reasonable degree of agreement in favour of progressive wine law among corporate wine producers of all countries' there was a 'disconnect' between industry and governments in some countries.

'However, the fundamental problem lies in the belief by each party that it has the best system and that the two are mutually exclusive, when acceptance by both parties of each other's system is actually what is required.'