March 27, 2007
At a ceremony in Washington, D.C., representatives from Sonoma County and Paso Robles in California, Chianti Classico in Italy, Tokaj in Hungary, and Victoria and Western Australia signed the accord.
They joined Napa Valley, Oregon, Washington, Walla Walla Valley, Champagne, Porto and Jerez, which signed the agreement in July 2005.
The ceremony echoed the recent accord by the European Union and the U.S. restricting future use of 16 wine place names to wines from those regions. The regions include Champagne, Sherry, Port, Chablis and Burgundy, but U.S. brands presently using those terms can continue to do so with geographic qualification such as “California Champagne.”
Though the accords might seem most important to traditional European regions, Napa Valley initiated the effort. “Napa led the way,” said George Sandeman of the Sandeman Sherry and Port companies.
Napa has been fighting misuse of its name by Bronco Wine Company for its Napa Ridge wine, which didn’t use Napa grapes. Napa won that case, and California also recently passed a law restricting the term “Sonoma” to wines containing at least 75% of grapes from that county.
In a related development, the European Union recently announced that Napa Valley has been named as a Geographical Indication (GI). It’s the first wine region in North America to be protected and recognized in the European Union.
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