As the European Union (EU) takes steps to protect Italian wine producers from international competition, Monash University researchers have received a Federal Government grant to clarify the legal basis for protecting geographic indications for wines in trade agreements.
Announced by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan, the $100,000 grant through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects expects to present evidence-based recommendations on geographical indication claims to Australia’s government and industry bodies.
The research team comprises Professor Mark Davison, Professor Moira Paterson, Dr Lisa Spagnolo, Dr Caroline Henckels from Monash University’s Faculty of Law, and Dr Enrico Bonadio from City University of London.
Australia’s Prosecco exports are worth $60 million annually and are predicted to rise to $500 million over the next decade.
But, the EU wants wine producers to be prohibited from marketing wine labelled as Prosecco as a condition of its entry into bilateral trade agreements. This is because the EU maintains the word Prosecco is a geographical indication for a type of wine made in northern Italy and not a grape variety.
“If Prosecco is the name of a grape variety and not a geographical indication, the prohibition of its use in trademarks on Australian Prosecco would be likely to contravene Article 20 of the TRIPS Agreement, and Article 2.1 of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement,” Professor Davison said.
“We’re grateful to the Federal Government for their financial support to help us develop a legal framework and associating guidelines for protecting geographical indications for wines, and to help Australia and its wine manufacturing industry deal with geographical claims.”
Prosecco has been produced in Australia since the early 2000s, after grape vines were imported from Italy in 1997. The name for the grape used to make Prosecco has since been changed to Glera.
Until 2009, Prosecco was universally regarded as a grape variety. However, in 2009, Prosecco was recognised as a geographical indication by Italian law through the creation of a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) across the Veneto and Friuli regions. Prosecco is the name of a town just outside Trieste.
The European Commission tried to register Prosecco as a GI in Australia in 2013, but it failed after the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (now Australian Grape and Wine Inc) argued successfully that it was the name of a grape variety.