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Margaret River winemakers challenge Cape Mentelle over Wallcliffe name

Margaret River winemakers have voted overwhelmingly in support of retaining the Wallcliffe name as a sub-region, in a challenge to LVMH-owned Cape Mentelle.

Vineyards in Wallcliffe

The vote, held at an emergency winemakers’ meeting this week, means the Margaret River Wine Association will now pursue legal recognition for Wallcliffe as a geographical indication.

The outcome also supports the stance of Flametree and Preveli wineries, who are locked in a dispute with Cape Mentelle over the use of Wallcliffe on labels. Cape Mentelle has claimed trademark rights on the term.

The decision on whether winemakers can use Wallcliffe in their wine marketing is now under consideration by Cape Mentelle’s general manager Rob Mann.

‘We already own three Wallcliffe trademarks: Wallcliffe Winery, Wallcliffe Vineyard and Wallcliffe Estate,’ he said. ‘We have over 40 years’ association with the term Wallcliffe and a longstanding Wallcliffe branded wine in the market. It is an important part of the Cape Mentelle business and we need time to consider the next step.’

Flametree’s general manager, Cliff Royle, said, ‘Cape Mentelle does not own Wallcliffe and its application to trademark the name is in revocation status. I only hope the voice of our Association members to retain Wallcliffe as a sub-regional name will be heard by LVMH.’

One of Margaret River’s founders, Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines, said it was important to protect Wallcliffe’s historical significance to the region.

‘We can’t rewrite history. There is an emotional attachment to Wallcliffe and this dates back to 1865 when our region was founded. The understanding of the land in the wine is the most exciting part of Margaret River wine and the deeper understanding comes from sub-regional and single site evolution.’

Written by Danielle Costley in Margaret River

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