Australian wine producers are rejoicing at the news that the Australian Government has turned down the EU free-trade deal that endangered Australian Prosecco production.
The deal would have limited the use of the name Prosecco to wines produced in Italy, essentially preventing the production of Australian Prosecco.
The Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator the Hon Don Farrell, has been in trade talks with the European Union during the G7 Trade Ministers’ meeting in Osaka, and has turned down the trade deal after a standstill in negotiations since July. Minister Farrell hoped that the EU would renegotiate a better deal, but the EU were unforthcoming, and it could be years until trade deal negotiations begin again.
Alongside other Australian winemakers, fourth-generation Brown family member and Brown Brothers winemaker Katherine Brown headed the #SaveAussieProsecco campaign, which advocated for the right of Australian producers to use the name Prosecco.
According to Brown, the rejection of the trade deal is a win for the entire Australian wine industry, not just Prosecco producers.
“The fight to keep the Prosecco name has seen producers from across Australia come together, it’s a true testament to the collaboration of our wine industry. It means so much for producers and by continuing our pursuit to keep the usage of the Prosecco name in Australia, future winemaking generations will have the freedom to use all grape varieties and can continue to innovate or work with new varieties,” Brown said.
The fight for Prosecco began in 2009 when Italy changed the name of the Prosecco grape to ‘Glera’ within the EU, claiming that Prosecco referred to an Italian region. However, research released by Monash University and Macquarie University in April this year disproved this claim. Five years in the making, the report entitled The European Union’s attempts to limit the use of the term ‘Prosecco’ was released by Professor of Law Mark Davison and the team at the Faculty of Law at Monash University and the Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University.
“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,” said Davison.
The success of Australian Prosecco has been a boon for the wine industry, as Australian Grape & Wine CEO Lee McLean explained.
“As the industry continues to suffer from crippling trade disruptions, the global pandemic and various weather events in recent years, the growth of Prosecco has been a shining light and lifeline for so many Australian producers,” said McLean.
The deal could have proven dangerous for other grape varieties, as McClean explained.
“There is a real risk other varieties like Vermentino, Fiano, Nero d’Avola and Montepulciano will be next in the firing line,” McClean warned while negotiations were still ongoing.
McLean congratulated Senator Farrell on making the right choice for the Australian wine industry.
“We commend the resolve of Trade Minister Don Farrell in walking away from a free trade deal that was not in the best interests of Australian Prosecco producers. The Government has made the right decision.
“We are fully supportive of the Australian Government’s decision to step away from ongoing negotiations rather than accept a deal that is not in the interest of Australian Prosecco producers or the broader agricultural sector.
“Any outcome that sought to reduce our existing market access would be detrimental to our burgeoning Prosecco industry and contrary to the intent of a free trade agreement which seeks to increase market access and remove trade barriers. Australian Prosecco producers just want to retain the right to use “Prosecco” as a grape variety in both our domestic and international markets,” McClean commented.
Brown is elated about the win.
“This is a good day to know that our voice has been heard. We say that you don’t need a celebration to open a bottle of Prosecco, but today is a day when it is time to celebrate, with Prosecco of course,” she concluded.