Difficulties in Protecting Place and Origin in the Wine Industry
Protecting geographical integrity is important not just for wine producers, but also for consumers. Different governments have set up systems to ensure the consumer knows what they are purchasing. Recently, there have been two stories in the news that demonstrate some headway has been made in protecting geographical integrity, but also the difficulties the movement still faces.
Wine Enthusiast Online recently reported the good news that six new regions have signed the Wine Accord, an international group whose stated mission is to, “protect wine place and origin.” The regions that signed the Wine Accord include Paso Robles, Sonoma County, Victoria, Western Australia, Tokaj, and Chianti Classico. Napa Valley, Champagne, Porto, Jerez, Oregon, Washington, and Walla Walla Valley are already members of the group.
Other headway has been made in protecting geographical integrity. The United States and European Union have finally come to an agreement which will limit the use of 16 regional names to wines produced locally. Three of these regions include Champagne, Chablis, and Burgundy; names that have been used for generic wines to mislead American consumers for decades.
But the news is not all positive for advocates of protecting geographical integrity. Paul Franson of Wines and Vines describes the trials and tribulations of establishing the Calistoga AVA in a recent article. Two brands, Calistoga Cellars and Calistoga Estates, have objected to the new AVA. The thing is, neither of these brands is located in Calistoga. More importantly, their wines do not use the required 75% of grapes to legally use the term Calistoga on their labels if the AVA is approved.
As Franson points out, Calistoga’s struggle has parallels to Bronco Wine Company’s recent attempt to use Napa Ridge on their labels, even though the required amount of Napa grapes were not used in these wines. The issue is quite clear-cut: consumers have a right to know what is in a bottle of wine before they purchase it. Anything less is misleading.