WASHINGTON – The Wine Origins Alliance, a coalition of 26 winery and grape-growing organizations in 11 countries spanning North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, convened in Washington this week to discuss with policymakers barriers to trade in wine, including the lack of effective protection of wine region names in the U.S. and around the world.
The global wine market is currently worth an estimated $342.43 billion and expected to grow 5.1 percent by 2023. However, prohibitive barriers to trade in wine have made it hard for wine regions to compete on a level playing field in the global marketplace. The Wine Origins Alliance met with officials from Congress, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the European Union Delegation to the United States to advocate for the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in wine, including the lack of protection for wine region names.
A 2018 survey found that 94 percent of American wine drinkers support laws that would protect consumers from misleading wine labels. However, despite this overwhelming support, some countries, including the U.S., permit geographic names on labels of wine that do not originate in those places. This makes it difficult for consumers to truly know the wine they purchase is in fact from a region they know and is harmful to the credibility of the wine industry as a whole.
As part of their visit, Alliance members also held a Capitol Hill wine tasting and reception to celebrate global cooperation to protect, promote and enhance wine regions. Attendees had the opportunity to taste wines from nine regions in three different countries and viewed a short film featuring winemakers explaining how the complete environment of a wine region’s location makes their wines unique.
The visit was held in conjunction with the introduction of a bipartisan congressional resolution, H. Res. 642, that recognizes the uniqueness of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). The resolution, co-sponsored by Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY), builds upon name protection efforts in the previous Congress, including the introduction of a similar House resolution (H. Res. 766) and the unanimous passage of a Senate resolution (S. Res. 649).
Alliance members participating in the fly-in and tasting included Bourgogne/Chablis, Champagne, Long Island, Missouri, Napa Valley, Oregon, South Africa, Texas and Willamette Valley. For more information about the Alliance’s activities, visit origins.wine.