The agreement formed part of a bilateral trade agreement between the European Union and the Kiwi government.
It affords sparkling winemakers in Veneto trademark protection, ensuring that fizz produced in other countries cannot be labelled ‘Prosecco’ in New Zealand.
This represents another symbolic victory for Prosecco producers in Italy. In December 2021, the Consorzio di Tutela Prosecco DOC celebrated a similar agreement in China.
The Consorzio launched the application for GI protection in China all the way back in 2014, but a trade body called Australian Grape and Wine Incorporated objected.
There are 120ha of Prosecco vineyards planted across 11 regions in Australia. The Dal Zotto family brought cuttings of the grape from Valdobbiadene in Veneto to Australia’s King Valley and planted the first vines in 1999.
A decade later, when government officials in Veneto realised how popular their bubbly was becoming in export markets, they sought to protect it.
However, you can only protect a geographical region – such as Champagne or Scotch whisky – as opposed to a grape. As such, they decided to change the name of the Prosecco grape to its Friulian synonym – Glera – in 2009, and announced that the name Prosecco was for the DOC.
Yet Australia already had its own Prosecco industry by then, and it now produces around 20 million bottles per year.
China did not want to wade into that dispute between Italy and Australia, so it did not approve the consortium’s application.
That all changed when the Australian government called for an international investigation into China’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
Beijing responded by slapping a 212% tariff on imported wine from Australia as a retaliatory measure, causing the country’s wine exports to plummet by 19% in one fell swoop.
It then approved the Consorzio’s recognition for GI status in China to rub further salt into Australia’s wounds.
New Zealand is the number one export market for Australian Prosecco, so the Consorzio is pleased to have secured the latest agreement.
‘This protection is particularly significant, given the fact that a country so distant from us recognizes that we are a Denomination of Origin and it inhibits, after five years since the implementation of this agreement, the “Australian Prosecco” trading, which sees New Zealand as its number one destination in terms of export,’ said Alessandra Zuccato, who oversees trademark protection activities at the Consorzio.
Stefano Zanette, president of the Prosecco DOC, added: ‘The Consorzio has relentlessly undertaken legal actions against the innumerable evocation cases that took place all around the world, operating tenaciously to structure a solid protection basis. Now these great efforts are finally producing the long-awaited results.’