‘Prosecco’ could soon be a thing of the past as the EU pushes for Aussies to be banned from using the name
- Aussie winemakers embroiled in EU stoush over sparkling wine variety prosecco
- Could be banned from using the term which is worth $205million in Australia
- Wine producers are in Canberra to lobby politicians to push their case
- Peak wine body fears other popular grape varieties will be next in the firing line
A battle is bubbling over Australian winemakers’ use of the term ‘prosecco’ 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 headed to Canberra this week to lobby federal parliament about the importance of the prosecco grape variety to the industry so politicians can push their case ahead of the next round of free trade negotiations with the EU.
Australia’s prosecco market has more than tripled in the last five years to an estimated $205million, with the vast majority of the popular celebratory tipple sold domestically.
Half of Australia’s prosecco is produced in Victoria’s King Valley, home to some of the nation’s best known winemakers.
Australians may soon be banned from using the term prosecco, the country’s most popular sparkling wine varieties
‘We need our trade negotiators and the Australian Government to understand that there are real jobs and real people at stake,’ Natalie Pizzini of Pizzini Wines said.
‘We’ve invested in this variety in good faith and the EU is trying to move the goal posts to protect Italian producers against fair competition.’
Katherine Brown from Brown Family Wine Group added: ‘Our family has invested millions of dollars in equipment, facilities, people and marketing to build up Australian Prosecco to what it is today.’
The latest stoush comes a decade after Australian producers lost the right to call their sparkling wine ‘champagne’.
The use of popular dessert wine terms ‘sherry’ and ‘port’ are also banned in Australia.
Australia’s prosecco market was worth $60million in 2017. It’s since tripled to an estimated $205million
There are grave fears other wine varieties like Vermentino, Fiano, Nero d’Avola and Montepulciano could be next in the firing line.
‘These producers are here to make sure our politicians understand that decisions relating to Prosecco have significant consequences for businesses, regional communities and ultimately people,’ Australian Grape & Wine chief executive Lee McLean said.
‘Prosecco isn’t just a bargaining chip for our negotiators.’
‘Consumers only have to look at wine lists in our pubs, restaurants and cafes to see that growth in popularity.’
It’s not the first time Australia has been embroiled in a battle with the EU over prosecco.
Banning use of the term prosecco could have a devastating impact on 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 then registered Prosecco as a Geographical Indication (GI).
Four years later, Australian producers successfully challenged an EU bid to claim prosecco as a GI in Australia.
‘It would be like if the Canberra region suddenly decided they would rename the region Shiraz, and they’re banning every other producer of shiraz from using the variety name,’ Mr McLean told the Sydney Morning Herald.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson confirmed Australia will contest the EU’s proposed geographical indication protection for prosecco.
‘Australia’s position remains that we should continue to respect the terms of the existing Australia-EU Wine Agreement, which includes continued use by industry of grape variety names including prosecco,’ a spokesperson said.
The proposal would be a big blow for Australian wine producers who are already banned from using the term champagne (pictured)