Australian winemakers prepare to defend right to produce ‘Prosecco’
Australian winemakers are preparing to defend their right to produce ‘Prosecco’ once again, amid rumours the Italian government will try to claim exclusive use of the label.
Prosecco growers in Australia have said they will defend their right to use the name once again, after it emerged that Italy may seek a Geographic Indicator (GI) in the country ahead of negotiations for a free trade deal between Australia and the European Union.
The application will be the second attempt in five years aiming to protect the status of Italian sparkling wine in Australia.
A GI would prevent Australian winemakers from using the name Prosecco, which could have a huge impact on the country’s wine industry as the grape continues to grow in popularity worldwide.
Vital to the distinctive nature of the sparkling wine is the grape variety, which is called Prosecco in Australia but has been referred to as “Glera” within the EU for nearly a decade.
In 2009, the Italian region of production became registered in the EU as ‘Prosecco DOC’, and the grape variety used to make the fizz was re-named Glera – which, it is believed, was deliberately chosen to discourage producers outside the region from using the grape to make sparkling wine.
Anyone who grows the grape formerly known as Prosecco outside the DOC cannot use the word Prosecco on the label – that is, if they want to sell the product in the EU.
In Australia, however, the Prosecco market is booming since the grape variety was introduced over 20 years ago. The Australian market is worth roughly $60m (£35m), and is expected to grow to up to $200m (£117m) in the coming years.
The Registrar of Trademarks rejected the application to have Prosecco registered in Australia as an Italian geographical indication back in 2013 – a move which the Wine Federation of Australia aggressively campaigned against.
But with Australian and European officials currently in talks to negotiate a Australia-EU free trade deal, winegrowers claim that Italian officials could put a GI back on the table.
It appears the local Victorian government is supporting its growers’ right to sell Prosecco. Last week, the institution hosted an event supporting wineries on “Prosecco Road.”
A spokesperson from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told the drinks business that it is “aware of the importance of keeping descriptors, such as grape varieties and generic terms, available for use by Australian traders.”
“We are working closely with the Australian Wine Industry on this issue in our ongoing negotiations for a comprehensive and ambitious Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement.”
Tony Battaglene, chief executive of the WFA, told Xinhuanet. that the Australian wine industry “would object to any such exclusive protection.”
Battaglene told reporters that that Prosecco is “widely used” within the country, and continues to be “recognised as a grape variety, not a geographical indication (GI),” Battaglene said.
At least 50% of the country’s Prosecco crops can be found in Southern Australia’s King Valley – more commonly referred to as Prosecco Road.
“Australian legislation permits Prosecco production in the country as Australian regulations consider Prosecco a grape and not a geographical indication,” Luca Giavi, director of the Prosecco DOC Consortium, told the drinks business in 2015.
the drinks business has contacted The WFA and the Italian Ministry for Development for comment.