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Rothbury name loss has Hunter Valley producers scrambling to protect names

Hunter Valley producers are desperate to win protection for their sub-regions following the ‘disaster’ of the loss of the Rothbury name to Foster’s.

The renowned New South Wales region is looking for official recognition of its sub-region Pokolbin. A committee will consider the application next month.

Foster’s sold Rothbury to Hope Estate in 2006 but kept the Rothbury name. It was awarded the Rothbury trademark in the courts last year.

Producers are anxious to avoid to avoid similar defeats and are moving to protect other sub-regional names.

Upper Hunter producers have also lodged an application for a Geographical Indication (GI): the small sub-region of Belford is looking to trademark its name.

Bruce Tyrrell of Tyrrell’s told decanter.com: ‘Foster’s have taken away that name from the community so we can’t put it on the label. It is a bloody disaster.’

Fellow Hunter Valley producer Michael Hope, owner of Hope Estate (formerly Rothbury Estate), said: ‘This has stopped Rothbury being used as a GI and that is criminal.

‘Rothbury is a parish and there was a full expectation we would win. We have no idea what to do know.’

Foster’s spokesman Troy Hey said, ‘Rothbury is a wine brand established in 1968. The matter went before the courts…and the decision concluded that Rothbury was a brand and not a GI.

‘While there were a minority who were – to put it mildly – displeased, we received some strong support from others in the Hunter Valley for our position throughout the dispute. We make no apologies for vigorously defending our wine labels and brands.’

Written by Rebecca Gibb

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