Australia is the seventh largest producer of wine and crushed 1.42 million tonnes of wine grapes in the 2001 vintage.
The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act 1980, and its attached Regulations, created the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (“A WBC”) with the following objectives:
• To promote and control the export of grape products from Australia;
• To promote trade and commerce of grape products within Australia;
• To enable Australia to fulfil its obligations under prescribed wine trading agreements; and
• To determine and name the boundaries of the various regions and localities in Australia in which wine grapes are produced.
It became obvious in the early 1980’s that Australian wine labels did not give enough information or protection to consumers nor did they always meet importing countries labelling requirements.
In the late 1980’s the Label Integrity Programme became law and was attached to the AWBC Act. Its objective was to help ensure the truth regarding grape variety, Geography Indications origin and vintage date statements on labels, commercial documents, etc.
During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the winemakers, the AWBC and the Australian government decided, after much debate, to adopt a Geography Indication system and not a European style AOC system to delineate regions and localities in Australia.
In 1992, to comply with the terms of the EU-Australia wine treaty, a “temporary” list of 423 possible Australian GI’s were inserted into Annex II of the treaty.
In 1994, the AWBC Act was added to by forming a Geography Indications Committee with the function of making determinations of GI’s for wine in relation to regions and localities in Australia. Between 1994 and 2002, the GIC declared and entered into the Register of Protected Names, 94 regions and localities in Australia and deleted a significant number of the “temporary” GI’s in Annex II of the treaty in 1999.
The GIC expects to complete its work in 2003, at which time it will revert to a “care and maintenance” format. The Register of Protected Names will contain 115 entries of GI’s and will replace the “temporary” list contained in Annex II.
Of all the determinations made so far by the GIC, only one (Coonawarra) has been appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, whose decision, in turn, has been appealed to the Federal Court who will hear the case in June 2002. Marketing and promotion of regional GI’s is undertaken by each Regional Association either on its own initiative, or in combination with others, at user pay events organized by State Associations and/or the Australian Wine Export Council. Regional and State Associations also co-operate with Local and State Tourist Authorities who are keen to use wine tourism as a major tourist attraction. Larger wine producers also help market regional GI’s by emphasizing the GI on their well-known, advertised and promoted brands eg, Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet-Sauvignon.
Author: I. MACKLEY
Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation, National Wine Center, Industry House
CNR hackney & Botanic roads, Adelaïde A 5000