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Monday 17 April 2023

Academics weigh in over bitter prosecco row

Academics have declared that prosecco is the name of a grape variety, not a geographic name.

The news comes as Australian winemakers continue to fight for the right to use the name prosecco on their wines. Italian makers and the European Union want them to cease.

But the academics are from Australian universities. One wonders if Italian academics would have a very different view.

New research from Monash University and Macquarie University entitled The European Union’s attempts to limit the use of the term ‘Prosecco says that prosecco is a grape variety name.

The report is the culmination of five years of research conducted by Professor of Law Mark Davison and the team at the Faculty of Law at Monash University and the Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University.

Using evidence dating as far back as the 1700s, the report says there is extensive historical proof of prosecco being a grape variety and its broad international acceptance as such, including evidence from the Italian wine industry and the European Union (EU).

It also says a lack of evidence has been made available to justify the Italian Government and the EU changing the name of the prosecco grape variety to the name glera in the EU in 2009.

Davison says “the evidence speaks for itself, prosecco has been recognised as the name of a grape for centuries, but not as a geographical indication (GI).

"Protecting the term as a geographical indication is a cynical attempt to avoid competition from Australian wine producers."

Lee McLean, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Grape & Wine, said: "We thank the universities and the authors personally for all the effort they have made over this time in going above and beyond to expose this evidence."

He added: “With the Australian Government undertaking a public objections process on EU GIs, including prosecco, this report confirms the importance of making sure the Government receives as many submissions into this process as possible.

“The risks of banning the ability of our industry to use well-established grape variety names are significant and have to potential to cause widespread damage to our sector and the regional communities it underpins.”

Australian prosecco production has grown to over $200 million dollars in value, with regions like Victoria’s King Valley investing millions in vineyards, production facilities and associated tourism infrastructure.

The variety is now grown in 20 regions across Australia.

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