Napa Valley Receives Geographic Indication (GI) Status in Europe
First American Wine Region to be Protected in EU
5/24/2007 - St Helena, CA- At a reception held at the German Consulate in San Francisco today, officials representing the European Union and leadership from the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) announced today that Napa Valley has been officially recognized with Geographic Indication (GI) Status as a protected name in the European Union, the first such recognition of an American wine place name.
Hosting the proceedings were Karsten Tietz, Consul on Cultural and Press Affairs for the German Consulate, and Agricultural Attaché Jean-Marc Trarieux of the European Commission (EC). The German consulate was the appropriate location for the announcement as Germany currently holds the presidency of the EU. Mr. Trarieux said; "Europe does not have a monopoly on producing fine wines." He continued; "Napa Valley has done an outstanding job and thanks to its pioneering spirit, it was the first third-country to apply for GI status. No other American wine region and no other American product has obtained this recognition."
The non-profit trade association that represents nearly 300 wineries in Napa Valley has worked for years to protect this world-renowned wine region from brands that seek to misuse the place name on brands sold in the U.S. and abroad that are not produced from grapes grown in Napa Valley Appellation, which is a U.S.-recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA).
"This represents a significant win in the continuing fight to protect the Napa name around the world," said Peter McCrea, president of the NVV Board of Directors. "Our vintners and growers have worked hard for over a hundred years to make Napa Valley a winegrowing region second to none in the world and when misleading labels on bottles overseas lead a consumer to believe that a wine is from Napa when it is not, it is deceptive and undermines the reputation for quality associated with our region."
"In addition to our strong state protection, we now have a new, international legal precedent on which to base our trademark protection efforts in Europe," said NVV board member Pat Stotesbery who chairs the association's Napa Name Committee. He continued; "Napa Valley Vintners works diligently to protect the region's name from abuses in the market, from those trading on the reputation for consistent, quality-driven wine that is synonymous with the name Napa. This is a milestone in wine place protection."
Linda Reiff, NVV's executive director noted that; "We strive to maintain the integrity of this renowned region. Napa Valley may be the most recognized wine place in America, but it represents just four percent of the state's wine production, yet accounts for nearly 25% of the economic impact of California's wine industry." She continued by saying; "For the consumer, this is about truth in labeling, much as one would expect Idaho potatoes to come from Idaho, it is only reasonable to assume that wine labels reading Napa would come from Napa Valley."
Napa Valley sets the course for wine place name protection.
In September 2005 the association petitioned the EC's Director General of Agriculture to have the names "Napa" and "Napa Valley" recognized with a GI status so as to provide legal protection for these well-establishes, highly recognizable names synonymous with quality winemaking from trademark infringement.
In March 2006, vintners and counsel also met with EC officials in Washington, DC to lobby support for the recognition. It seems the denial was also based on lack of protocol from the EU, in that to date there had been no GI recognitions given to anyone outside the EU member states.
In July 2006, vintner representatives met with EU leaders in Brussels to find a diplomatic solution to place recognition, GI status, for an entity outside the EU. In late January 2007 the EU Wine Committee approved the status for Napa Valley and the association was formally notified last week when the status became official with the publishing and release of the Official Journal of the European Union
This diplomatic solution represents one of the many fronts the association works on to protect the Napa name. Earlier this spring, vintners from Napa Valley traveled to Washington, DC for the second phase of the Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place and Origin. As an original signatory to the declaration, along with the regions of Champagne (France), Jerez (Spain), Port (Portugal), and Washington state, Oregon, Walla Walla Valley (U.S.), six new signers were welcomed to the group, Chianti Classico (Italy), Tokaj (Hungary), Victoria and Western Australia (Australia) and Sonoma County and Paso Robles (U.S.) at a ceremony held on March 21. Representatives from these thirteen regions then met with members of the Congressional Wine Caucus and others to talk about place protection issues that affect all of these wine regions. This coalition of winegrowing regions works to educate consumers, trade, policy makers and influencers on the importance of protecting the unique identity of wine places around the world. Ongoing efforts on this program can be found at www.protectplace.com.
About the NVV
Now in our seventh decade, the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) non-profit trade association is the sole organization responsible for the promoting and protecting the Napa Valley Appellation as a winegrowing region second to none in the world. Respect for our history reinforces our commitment to the preservation and enhancement of the Valley's land, wine and community for future generations. We address the shared interests of our nearly 300 members and aspire to be the essential organization for all Napa Valley vintners.
Contact: CONTACT: Terry Hall Communications Director (707) 968-4217 firstname.lastname@example.org