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The officials who draw up maps of wine zones bear a heavy burden. If land is placed within a prestige zone, it may increase in value by an enormous extent. In Europe, the boundaries are often hallowed by tradition, but even in Champagne the limits of the AOC have been controversial. In Italy, the boundaries of some wine zones (DOCs) owed more to politics than viticulture; zones were too large, or in a few cases had no real right to exist. A massive tidying-up operation is underway to eliminate doubtful DOCs.

New World countries that move to establish wine zones on a legal basis face problems. First, setting the boundaries raises the vexed question of whose land is in and whose out. Second, once a zone is established it can be impossible for new land to be planted outside the zone. If a vineyard area is new and all the ones outside Europe are then no-one can be sure that the best land has yet been discovered and planted. To set a wine zone's boundaries is to inhibit experiment.

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