“A geographical indication (GI) is a name, usually a regional name, that’s used to identify the origin of goods where some quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is related in some essential way to their geographical origin.”(New Zealand International Property Office, n.d.)
In New Zealand we have legislation that regulates whether a wine company can state a specific region on a wine label. The current version of the Geographical Indications (GI) Registration Amendment Bill was passed by New Zealand’s parliament in November 2016.
The image below shows the Geographical Indicators currently registered in New Zealand.
In order to use one of the registered GI’s the 85% rule applies. If a wine label states ‘Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’ at least 85% of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes must have come from Marlborough.
On the global stage there is a certain reputation that comes with having a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it is described as having a certain intensity with a multitude of herbaceous and fruity flavours/aromas. Having registered GI’s was an important step for the New Zealand wine industry. The GI Act means there are more safe-guards in place to ensure a wine labelled ‘Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’ is characteristic of our region, and the consumer is now aware of a certain quality which comes with having a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Some companies believed the GI Act did not go far enough, and as a result ‘Appellation Marlborough’ was born.
A wine can be certified by Appellation Marlborough if it follows these specific guidelines:
ORIGIN – Wines are made from grapes that are 100% sourced from Marlborough vineyards.
INTEGRITY – Wines must be made from grapes cropped at or below set parameters, established according to soil type and vine density variability. If a proposed wine contains any portion exceeding that level, it must be approved by an independent panel of qualified, experienced local producers.
AUTHENTICITY – Wines must be bottled in New Zealand.
SUSTAINABILITY – Associated vineyards are certified by a recognised sustainable viticulture scheme.(Appellation Marlborough Wine, n.d.)
If a company is registered with Appellation Marlborough and follows these guidelines they can present a Appellation Marlborough Wine certified quality mark (see image below).
Do we need more registered GI’s?
Would this help or harm wine producers?
Many consumers buy a Central Otago Pinot Noir as they expect a certain quality from that region. Bannockburn is a sub-region of Central Otago and is one of the warmest and driest parts of the region, because of it’s climate and soil diversity the Pinot Noir produced in this sub-region has different characteristics than other areas of Central Otago. These qualities make a good case for Bannockburn becoming its own Geographical Indicator.
However, a label cannot state more than one geographical indicator. If Bannockburn were to become a Geographical Indicator it could not include Central Otago on the label.
On a global stage, who has heard of Bannockburn?
A consumer who regularly enjoys a Central Otago Pinot Noir may not know that some of that added complexity is due to the grapes that come from Bannockburn. If Bannockburn becomes a GI it could be detrimental to their sales, as it is no longer apart of the Central Otago consumer market- unless that consumer is educated in New Zealand sub-regions.