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Napa producers agree to stop using ‘Port’ on labels

Three Napa Valley producers have voluntarily agreed to stop using the term “Port” on their fortified wine labels, with Napa Valley Vintners encouraging others to follow suit.

The Douro Valley

Boyd Family Vineyards, Freemark Abbey and Jessup Cellars, who are all members of Napa Valley Vinters (NVV), have the legal right to use the term because they were grandfathered following the signing of the 2006 US/European Commission Wine Trade Agreement.

Despite this, all three have reached an agreement to cease their use of the term “out of respect for the NVV’s efforts to protect winemaking place names” and winemakers in the Douro – the world’s oldest denominated wine region where Port is made.

“Protecting the Napa name and preventing consumer confusion are top priorities for the NVV,” said Emma Swain, incoming chair of the board of the 525-plus member organization and CEO of St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery.

“If we’re asking other regions to respect our name, we’ve got to walk the talk. We applaud these three member wineries for doing the right thing and we encourage other vintners to follow suit.”

The announcement was made at the Napa Valley Vintners Annual Meeting, at which Vincent Perrin, director general of the Comité Champagne (CIVC), delivered the keynote address.

Champagne been particularly active in its fight to protect its name, defending fiercely the use of the term Champagne on anything other than sparkling wine made in the traditional method and produced in the region.  The word “Champagne” is a protected designation of origin which is protected under European law.

Last year the CIVC won its case against a flooring company that was trying to trademark a range of “caviar and Champagne” products, claiming that it had chosen the word Champagne for “opportunistic reasons” and to be associated with the “glamour and image of Champagne”.

In another example, last year the CIVC lost a court battle it had lodged battle against wine writer and educator Jayne Powell, also known as Champagne Jayne. The CIVC originally took Powell to court in December 2014, claiming that she had misled the public and infringed on its trademark by promoting sparkling wines other than Champagne while using the Champagne Jayne name. This, it claimed, had “damaged the goodwill of the Champagne sector”.

However in October an Australian court ruled in Powell’s favour, allowing her to continue the use of her brand name “Champagne Jayne”.

Napa Valley, Champagne and Porto were three of the original signatories of the transatlantic Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place & Origin agreement, which was signed in 2005.

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