Kia Ora, Kiwi GIs
New Zealand wine producers just got the news they’ve been longing to hear for 11 years: The Geographical Indications Registration Act 2006 has gone into effect, giving wineries in 18 viticultural regions the opportunity to register for GI certification, and thus protect the use of their appellational names on the international market.
Just as the Napa Valley Vintners Association has ferociously fought wine producers who don’t use Napa Valley-grown grapes yet use “Napa” in their branding, Kiwi wineries — once they earn GI certification – will be able to pursue – in court, if cease-and-desist threats are ignored – others that use New Zealand GI names on products that don’t come from those regions.
Parliament’s enactment of the GI scheme last week not only discourages producers worldwide from misusing NZ regional names, it also underscores, in bold black marker, the fact wine that wine is a crucial export product for this country of just 4 million people. New Zealand wine exports were valued at whopping $1.66 billion for the reporting year ending June 2017 (the US is its largest wine market), and the government is keen on protecting the authenticity of its exports to continue its success.
The 18 GI regions:
- Waiheke Island
- Hawke’s Bay
- Central Hawke’s Bay
- North Canterbury
- Waipara Valley
- Waitaki Valley North Otago
- Central Otago
Why my interest in this evolution of the New Zealand wine industry? Because I’ve been keen on the country’s wines for 20 years and marvel at the quality strides made in a mere three decades or so of modern viticulture. NZ’s move to protect its vinous intellectual property is vital to the survival of its industry, and other emerging wine regions of the world would be wise to pay attention.
Disclosure: I’m a consultant to Air New Zealand, recommending wines for its flights based on blind tastings with three other consultants. Anything I write here on NZ is unaffiliated with Air New Zealand’s wine program … er, programme.