July 26, 2005

Champagne, Napa join forces to protect wine labels

By Jim Christie

NAPA, Calif. (Reuters) - Associations representing some of
the world's best-known wine regions vowed on Tuesday to protect
the names of their regions and to combat their misuse on bottle

The names, known as appellations in the wine trade,
translate into additional revenues for winemakers as consumers
are willing to pay more for wine from a region known for its
wine-making traditions and quality.

The joint declaration on Tuesday follows a May appeals
court ruling that wine labeled as from Napa Valley, the premier
U.S. wine producing region, must be made mostly from local
grapes -- as required by state law.

Bronco Wine Co., a San Joaquin Valley maker of popular
inexpensive wines, had challenged the law because it uses the
Napa name for some of its wines made with grapes grown outside
the Napa Valley. Under California law, a wine bearing a Napa
Valley label must use 85 percent of its grapes from Napa.

Joel Aiken of Napa Valley Vintners said Bronco was not
alone in using the region's name, which lends prestige to
bottles of wine in the eyes of consumers.

"The Napa name has been proposed to be used in Spain, in
China," said Aiken, vice president of winemaking for Beaulieu

"That type of thing, if we don't do this, we'll see more
and more," Aiken said of the statement his group helped draft.

Joining the Napa group in signing the declaration were
winemakers' associations from Oregon and Washington state.
French, Portuguese and Spanish producers also signed it to
protect the Champagne, Port and Jerez-Xeres-Sherry product and
place names.

Bruno Paillard, representing winemakers from France's
Champagne region, noted that the use of the Champagne name by
some U.S. makers of sparkling wines persists while makers of
sparkling wines in other countries have abandoned the practice.

Bosco Torremocha of Consejo Regulador de las DD.OO
Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, said Sherry producers encounter the same
problem in the United States. Only one in four bottles of wine
sold in the United States as Sherry is from his region.