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Virginia wineries become latest to join the Wine Origins Alliance

US wine region Virginia has become the first East Coast state to join the global Wine Origins Alliance organisation, which works to safeguard wine place names.

Virginia is today [2 May] becoming the first American East Coast wine-producing state to join the Wine Origins Alliance (WOA), the international organisation founded in 2005 “to increase worldwide attention to the protection of wine place names”.

The body has also called for the elimination of all tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in wine.

In signing ceremonies held in Washington D.C., the state of Virginia, along with two smaller Michigan AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), joins 33 other wine organisations around the world, including Champagne, Bordeaux, Bourgogne/Chablis, Napa Valley, Rioja and Chianti Classico as part of the Wine Origins Alliance.

Virginia has been termed “the California of the East Coast” in terms of the growth of its wine production and the amount of investments made there.

“Home to more than 28 grape varieties, 10 regions and eight distinct AVAs across our commonwealth, the Virginia Wineries Association understands the importance of protecting wine place names,” said executive director Christina Sandridge.

“We are proud to come together alongside our colleagues from around the world to support the important mission of WOA.”

Other new joiners

As well as Virginia, two Michigan AVAs are also joining the alliance; the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail and the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail.

“The Alliance is excited to grow even stronger with the addition of Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula and Virginia,” said Charles Goemaere, director general of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne and co-chair and founding member of the Wine Origins Alliance.

“We are delighted to work together to reach our goals alongside these organisations and their extraordinary wines.”

Speaking about the unique sense of place belonging to Leelanau Peninsular, Geoff Hamelin, board president of the Leelanau Peninsular Wine Trail added: “Known for its quaint towns, crystal clear lakes and streams, and rolling terrain, the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail has wines like no other.”

Old Mission secretary Marie-Chantal Dalese concurred: “Old Mission Peninsula has a distinctive and cool microclimate that allows for the production of a variety of whites, reds, sparkling and dessert wines that cannot be replicated elsewhere.”

The addition of Virginia to WOA will encourage individual AVAs within the US state to join as well, claims George Hodson, head of the wineries association and CEO of Veritas Vineyard in the Monticello AVA.

“As Virginia continues to grow in size and reputation, it is important for the Monticello AVA to contribute to the global conversation on wine,” he says.

“We hope that we will be the first of the other Virginia AVA’s to join the Wine Origins. As the state as a whole is becoming its own wine region we are striving to gain recognition nationally and internationally.”

Wine Origins Alliance in numbers

Wine Origins members represent nearly 90,000 wineries and grape growers that have generated more than one million jobs, the organisation claims, and more than US$8 billion in global wine exports. With the addition of the three new US-based members, the Alliance now has 36 member regions, spanning North America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia.

A complete listing of members include: Baja California, Barossa, Bordeaux, Bourgogne/Chablis, Champagne, Chianti Classico, Douro & Porto, Finger Lakes, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Leelanau Peninsula, Livermore Valley, Long Island, McLaren Vale, Missouri, Monterey County, Napa Valley, Oregon, Old Mission Peninsula, Paso Robles, Provence, Querétaro, Rhône Valley, Rioja, Santa Barbara County, Seneca Lake, Sonoma County, South Africa, Texas, Tokaj, Victoria, Virginia, Walla Walla Valley, Washington state, Western Australia, Willamette Valley and Yamanashi.

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