The catalysts that led to the setting-up of the IVV in 1925 were fungal infections and depredations by pests, especially grape phylloxera, which severely affected Luxembourg's domestic viticulture at that time. The initial task of the Institute was to apply practical measures throughout all areas of the wine industry, with a view to helping winegrowers to overcome the difficulties which they were facing at the time and to provide them with support in the form of advice and practical assistance.
In so doing, and by providing innovative and practical solutions, the Institute has at all times been there to help Luxembourg's domestic winegrowers and to offer them its assistance in dealing with the myriad of new challenges with which they are constantly faced.
Today, the Institute not only provides administration facilities housed in modern premises but also continues to function as an important research centre in numerous areas of viniculture and cellar management. With its vineyards extending over 6 hectares, it has become an interface combining theory and practice, research, development, guidance and continuing training. Forward-looking methods are tested and developed for practical use.
The Institute's tasks today are focused, in essence, on applied research and practice-related testing in the areas of plant protection, grape varieties that are resistant to fungal infections, the development of environmentally friendly production processes, vine nutrition, viniculture, wine treatment and oenology, as well as ongoing and further training.
In addition, the Institute plays a significant role, within the framework of the "AOP Moselle luxembourgeoise", in the official testing of quality wines and sparkling wines. In this area, the Institute carries out the important task of checking and monitoring compliance with all quality criteria.
The Institute also acts as a major point of contact as regards the initial, and above all the continuing training, of winegrowers. It offers lectures, seminars and further training courses covering significant issues and subject areas in the wine industry field, with a view to acquainting winegrowers with the latest findings in the areas of viniculture and cellar management. In so doing, the Institute plays its part in promoting sustainable viniculture and enables Luxembourg's wine industry to become ever more competitive.
Within the framework of the agricultural policy, the Institute administers the parcels of land used for vine-growing, various State aid programmes and also EU programmes aimed at promoting viniculture.
In the context of viniculture policy, the Institute, as a State organisation, operates as a link between professional winegrowers, the Ministry of Viticulture and the EU Commission. It is responsible for ensuring the practical implementation of national rules and EU Regulations and of supervising and monitoring their application in wineries.
In 1884 Luxembourg joined the German Customs Union. At that time, Germany was in the midst of industrialisation, and its new wealth manifested itself, amongst other things, in an increased consumption of sparkling wine. To meet this demand, the German trade bought up in those years almost the whole of Luxembourg's wine production. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Luxembourg wine industry was at its zenith, with wine prices skyrocketing.
After the end of the First World War, the Customs Union was dissolved and the German market for Luxembourg wines practically disappeared. In addition to the economic catastrophe to which this gave rise, Luxembourg was then hit by the pestilence of grape phylloxera. This attacked the roots of the vine, so that it was necessary to transplant the entirety of the vines planted over an affected area to rootstocks that were resistant to phylloxera. The whole of the winegrowing industry, which had previously supplied only raw products, had therefore to undergo a total transformation, just in order to be able to survive.
Reconstruction measures were promptly set in motion; despite the global economic crisis, these resulted in the creation, over the space of barely 20 years, the Luxembourg viniculture that we know today.
As part of these reforms, the Luxembourg Institut viti-vinicole was set up in 1925 under the aegis of the State, with the aim of providing winegrowers with basic scientific and vinicultural support and guidance as they transformed their industry. Initially, the Institute's main task was to make available to winegrowers the necessary material for the replanting of their vineyards.
However, with the rapid development came the need for further changes, and in due course the Institute assumed new tasks. Its mission was expanded by the Laws of 1945, 1963, 1976 and 2003, and its new premises were inaugurated in 1962.
Its remit has been further enlarged by additional tasks in the areas of relations with the EU Institutions, maintenance of the vineyard register, wine controls, the Marque nationale des vins luxembourgeois (Office national des appellations d'origine protégées - Moselle luxembourgeoise), wine analysis and the administration of aid moneys.
The Institute not only functions as a modern administrative body but also undertakes important research in numerous areas of viniculture and cellar management. The following subject areas are covered by the Institute's four departments:
Viniculture and administration of aid to winegrowers
The Viniculture Department performs tasks in the following areas: practical testing, variety trials, monitoring of wine nurseries, supervision of transplanting and replanting of vineyard plots within the winery perimeter, delimitation of the wine-growing region, demarcation of boundaries, transposition of EU viniculture legislation, testing and advising in relation to organic wine production, advising winegrowers, organising informational and training events, administering various types of aid, maintaining the vineyard register, managing the Institute's website, and wine-growing statistics (wine year).
The wine laboratory carries out official analytical tests in respect of all grape musts, still wines, sparkling wines and Luxembourg crémants. It also provides advice in relation to winemaking. To that end, analytical testing of new wines still in fermentation and other wines is absolutely essential.
Wine controls and AOP
The Wine Control Department checks whether the strict criteria laid down in the specifications of the AOP-Moselle Luxembourgeoise are being met. In addition to quality wines, controls on a sample basis by the Wine Control Department are mandatory in respect of all wines. Those controls may take the form of sensory assessments, checking cellar books, the use of wine treatment methods, the taking of samples for analytical and sensory testing, and controls with regard to wine designations.
The Luxembourg State Winery consists of around five hectares of vineyards, located in Remich, Stadtbredimus, Ehnen and Dreiborn.