Spain has cut its wine-growing area by over a quarter since 2000, according to a European Commission report. Spanish vines still take up almost half of the EU total, however. The fall is due to a restructuring of vineyards and conversion programmes aimed at stamping out illegal vines and linking wine production with market demand.

The total area of vines in the EU has fallen by 1.3% since 2000, although this figure masks efforts to regulate illegal vines.

Officially, there has been a blanket ban on planting unauthorised new vines since 1976, in an attempt to stop over-production of wine in the EU. Weak penalties, however, have meant that new areas have been planted but not recorded.

The report says that the EC will amend wine-growing legislation this year to help member states regulate illegal plantings.