Aussie winemakers could be banned from using the term prosecco by the European Union

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‘Prosecco’ could soon be a thing of the past as EU insists Aussies shouldn’t use the name

  • Aussie winemakers embroiled in EU stoush over sparkling wine prosecco
  • Can be barred from using the term worth $205 million in Australia
  • Wine producers are in Canberra to lobby politicians to promote their cause
  • Peak Wine Body fears other popular grape varieties will be next in the line of fire

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A battle is raging over the use of the term ‘prosecco’ by Australian winemakers, which could have devastating consequences for one of the world’s fastest growing sparkling wine markets.

The European Union has launched a controversial proposal to ban Australian producers from using the Italian variety name.

Wine producers took to Canberra this week to lobby the federal parliament about the importance of the prosecco grape variety to the industry, allowing politicians to make their case ahead of the next round of free trade negotiations with the EU.

Australia’s prosecco market has more than tripled in the past five years to an estimated $205 million, with the vast majority of the popular festive drink sold domestically.

Half of Australia’s prosecco is produced in Victoria’s King Valley, home to some of the country’s best-known winemakers.

Australians will soon be banned from using the term prosecco, the country's most popular sparkling wine

Australians will soon be banned from using the term prosecco, the country’s most popular sparkling wine

“We need our trade negotiators and the Australian government to understand that there are real jobs and real people at stake,” said Natalie Pizzini of Pizzini Wines.

“We have invested in this variety in good faith and the EU is trying to move the goalposts to protect Italian growers from fair competition.”

Katherine Brown of Brown Family Wine Group added: ‘Our family has invested millions of dollars in equipment, facilities, people and marketing to build Australian Prosecco into what it is today.’

The latest stoush comes ten years after Australian producers lost the right to call their sparkling wine ‘champagne’.

The use of the popular dessert wine terms ‘sherry’ and ‘port’ is also banned in Australia.

The prosecco market in Australia was worth $60 million in 2017.  It has since tripled to an estimated $205 million

The prosecco market in Australia was worth $60 million in 2017.  It has since tripled to an estimated $205 million

The prosecco market in Australia was worth $60 million in 2017. It has since tripled to an estimated $205 million

Survey

Should Australia be banned by the European Union from using the term prosecco?

  • Yes 1 votes
  • no 4 votes
  • Don’t drink prosecco 2 votes

There are serious fears other wine varieties such as Vermentino, Fiano, Nero d’Avola and Montepulciano could be next in the line of fire.

“These producers are here to make sure our politicians understand that decisions related to Prosecco have a significant impact on businesses, regional communities and ultimately people,” said Australian Grape & Wine chief executive Lee McLean.

“Prosecco is not just a medium of exchange for our negotiators.”

“Consumers only have to look at the wine list in our pubs, restaurants and cafes to see that popularity growth.”

It is not the first time Australia has been embroiled in a battle with the EU over prosecco.

Banning the use of the term prosecco could have devastating consequences for Victoria's King Valley wine region (pictured), which produces half of Australia's sparkling wine

Banning the use of the term prosecco could have devastating consequences for Victoria's King Valley wine region (pictured), which produces half of Australia's sparkling wine

Banning the use of the term prosecco could have devastating consequences for Victoria’s King Valley wine region (pictured), which produces half of Australia’s sparkling wine

In 2009, Italy changed the name of the grape variety to Glera within the EU and subsequently registered Prosecco as a Geographical Indication (GI).

Four years later, Australian producers successfully challenged an EU bid to claim prosecco as a geographical indication in Australia.

“It would be as if the Canberra region suddenly decided to rename the Shiraz region and they banned all other shiraz producers from using the variety name,” McLean told the Sydney Morning Herald.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that Australia will challenge the EU’s proposed protection of geographical indications for prosecco.

“Australia’s position remains that we must continue to respect the terms of the existing wine agreement between Australia and the EU, which includes the industry’s use of grape variety names, including prosecco,” a spokesman said.

The proposal would be a major blow to Australian wine producers who are already banned from using the term champagne (pictured)

The proposal would be a major blow to Australian wine producers who are already banned from using the term champagne (pictured)

The proposal would be a major blow to Australian wine producers who are already banned from using the term champagne (pictured)