very ugg King Valley Prosecco producers fear claims over produce names could hurt more industries
Prosecco wine producers in north east Victoria are concerned a push by Italy to keep the name Prosecco exclusively for itself could cost the local industry hundreds of millions of dollars, if it succeeds.
It has only been 18 years since Otto Dal Zotto planted the first Prosecco grape vines in Victoria’s King Valley, inspired by a childhood in Italy’s Valdobbiadene, where the wine first emerged and has continued to thrive.
The grape was renamed Glera in 2009, and Italy now wants the Prosecco name exclusively for itself under the terms of a European geographical indicator.
Much like Champagne, Stilton cheese and Parma ham, a geographical indicator would mean Prosecco variety wine that was not produced in Italy’s Prosecco wine region would have to be called something else.
Italy has made clear during informal industry discussions that it wants a geographical indicator for Prosecco in the upcoming Australia EU Free Trade Agreement.
It is estimated the potential change of name and branding could see the Australian domestic Prosecco market lose up to $400 million.
The issue is giving Prosecco producers a wine hangover, and leaving them wondering how many other industries may have to face the same the geographical indicator battle they are gearing up for.
What is in a name?Geographical indication (GI) identifies a product as originating from a specific area, where a particular characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
Federal Opposition workplace relations and rural and regional Australia assistant spokeswoman, Lisa Chesters, said she was worried about the potential for international GIs to hurt more Australian industries.
“I’ve got serious concerns about geographical indicators because where does it begin and where does it end? What’s next?” she said.
“It would be the equivalent of you can no longer call pizza pizza what do you call it and how do you market that?
“That’s that great Australian story, that you bring a part of your culture with you and grow an industry from it.”
The Victorian Government has acknowledged the Prosecco industry in Australia is one that needs to be protected.
It has just announced $50,000 for the King Valley to help develop the region under the state’s Wine Growth Fund.
It has also announced an intention to work with Wines of King Valley on the development of the King Valley Prosecco Road Plan, to develop a business case and blueprint to increase wine tourism and cellar door sales, improve strategic planning and marketing, improve vineyard production, and reduce environmental impact.
Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said it was important to nurture the industry while it continued to boom.
“It is probably one of the greatest opportunities to grow the region in terms of economy, visitor attraction, but also job creation,” she said.
Victoria’s wine industry contributes an estimated $7.6 billion to the Victorian economy and employs nearly 13,000 people.
Prosecco name the pick of the bunchThe King Valley wine producers know the power behind the name Prosecco. (ABC Goulburn Murray: Erin Somerville)
In the past year alone, the King Valley has recorded a 20 per cent growth in the Prosecco category, and it is predicted that growth will be exponential and eventually be worth $200 million in five years.
Producers say the name sells itself.
“As we move into free trade negotiations it’s going to be critical that government understands there are big risks to rural Australia if we lose the right to use the name Prosecco,” Wines of the King Valley president Dean Cleave Smith said.
“The biggest growth is ahead of us.
“We imported Prosecco grape vines from Italy, and for the Italians to suddenly make this move to try and restrict the rights to use the name is really significant for us.”