Australian Prosecco producers have taken their fight to Canberra after the right to use the variety name was threatened by a trade ban.

The European Union (EU) is pushing for Prosecco to be covered under a geographical indication, with Italy wanting exclusive rights to its use.

The value of production of Australian Prosecco is around $200 million a year and primarily concentrated in Victoria.

Wine producers took to Canberra this week to brief parliamentarians on the risks to the industry with production investments and jobs at stake, meaning flow-on effects to the economies of regional communities.

Australian Grape & Wine CEO, Lee McLean, said Prosecco is a variety name like Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon and its consumption has grown in popularity over the last decade.

“The EU’s approach to this issue is motivated by a desire to protect Italian producers from competition and nothing more,” he said.

“Australian Prosecco has grown from a small base to a total direct value of over $205 million to December 2021. It currently fetches an average price that is more than double the price of most other varieties. Consumers only have to look at wine lists in our pubs, restaurants and cafes to see that growth in popularity.”

In 2010, Australian producers were banned from calling their sparkling wine Champagne, restricting its use to wine produced only in the French region. However, Champagne has always been a region in France, whereas Italy only created a wine region named Prosecco in 2009 and changed the grape variety from Prosecco to Glera.

McLean said if producers aren’t backed now, other grape varieties could face the same fate.

“These producers are here to make sure our politicians understand that decisions relating to Prosecco have significant consequences for businesses, regional communities and ultimately people. Prosecco isn’t just a bargaining chip for our negotiators,” he said.

“There is a real risk other varieties like Vermentino, Fiano, Nero d’Avola and Montepulciano will be next in the firing line.”

Otto Dal Zotto from Dal Zotto Wines was the first commercial grower of Prosecco in Australia and said the variety helps employment and economic growth in Victoria’s King Valley.

“Prosecco is, and always has been, a globally recognised grape variety,” he said.

Fellow winemaker Natalie Pizzini from Pizzini Wines said she was concerned about job security and called on trade negotiators to understand the plight of wine producers.

“We’ve invested in this variety in good faith and the EU is trying to move the goal posts to protect Italian producers against fair competition,” she said.

Brown Family Wine Group, the largest Australian producer of Prosecco, also expressed concerns about the investment that has gone into building the category.

Katherine Brown said: “Our family has invested millions of dollars in equipment, facilities, people and marketing to build up Australian Prosecco to what it is today.”

Australian Grape & Wine said it is “standing shoulder to shoulder with Australia’s Prosecco producers,” working with the industry to #SaveAussieProsecco.

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