New Zealand Introduces Geographical Indications for 18 of its Wine Regions

From a country that exports 66 percent of its wine, New Zealand has taken a step towards added protection and promotion of a product that generates NZ$1.57 billion (US$1.16 billion) annually for the country. It announced it intends to register 18 of its wine regions under The Geographical Indication (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act.

The main incentive for the move is to protect each wine region’s collective intellectual property by securing a formal Geographical Indication (GI). The move protects a region’s name from being used elsewhere.

“Geographical Indications are now recognized internationally as the way of conceptualizing wine regions,” New Zealand Winegrowers Acting CEO Jeffrey Clarke told Beverage Industry Enthusiast. “Having a formal registration system in New Zealand will also make it much easier for us to register our GIs within other countries’ GI registration systems.”

Clarke noted the differences between Geographical Indication and Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC, DOC, etc.) systems in Europe.

“(New Zealand’s GI system) does not, in any way, impose European-style growing, production, or winemaking restrictions,” he said. “Our winemakers will continue to be free to make exciting, vibrant wines the way they always have. If the Act had sought to impose red tape, it would not have been supported by the industry.”

Meanwhile, one NZ winery is accused of exporting thousands of bottles of wine with fraudulent labels. Three directors, including the winemaker at Southern Boundary Wines, face more than 150 charges that they made wine for their own and other brands that carried false information about the variety, the vintage or the origin of the wine in the bottle.

The Ministry for Primary Industries charged the winery on Thursday with mislabeling of the wine in the 2011, 2012, 2013 vintages. The specific labels involved were not made public.

Southern Boundary Wines is in Wairapara, one of the 18 regions looking for the GI designation.The other 17 are: Northland, Auckland, Matakana, Kumeu, Waiheke Island, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Central Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Gladstone, Martinborough, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, North Canterbury,  Waitaki Valley North Otago, Central Otago.

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