Poll Underscores Growing Support Against Misleading Wine Labels

The Wine Origins Alliance released poll results today at Vinexpo New York that found 94 percent of U.S. wine drinkers support laws that would protect consumers from misleading wine labels. The Alliance also called on U.S. lawmakers to heed consumer demand for accurate labels, and outlined plans to meet with Congress.

“This survey reflects what we already knew: consumers want labels to accurately reflect the contents of the wine bottle,” says Anthony Sannino, president of the Long Island Wine Council. “Our current laws are not enough to protect and inform consumers.”

The poll, conducted by GBA Strategies, found that 70 percent of U.S. wine drinkers believe that allowing American producers to misuse foreign wine region names on their labels is deceptive to consumers. Moreover, 70 percent believe that allowing American wine producers to misuse region names makes it harder for those U.S. wine regions to protect their authenticity.

“Here in the United States, some wine region names are not protected,” says Linda Reiff, president and CEO of the Napa Valley Vintners. “This makes it hard for Napa and other U.S. regions to protect their names around the world when their very own government doesn’t extend that same protection to others.”

The poll also found widespread consumer reliance on information about where a wine is from: 79 percent of consumers consider the region an important factor when buying a bottle of wine.

In the European Union and Australia, wine region names are protected through a registry of geographical indications. In the United States, they are protected through well-established federal and state laws that protect American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs, for the wine industry inside its borders. However, the U.S. permits the use of wine region names like Champagne, Chablis, Chianti, Port and Sherry on labels of wines that do not originate in those European regions.

“Texas has been making wine since the 1600s. Its distinctive climate and land has influenced the winemaking process; thus, the Texas name should not be used on labels if the wine wasn’t produced there,” says Carl Money, founding member of Texas Wine Growers. “The same should be true for Long Island, Napa Valley, Champagne, Sherry, Chablis, Chianti Classico, Bordeaux and all other wine-growing regions.”

Since 2005, the Wine Origins Alliance has worked to raise awareness about the importance of location to winemaking and the need to protect the integrity of wine region names around the globe. During Vinexpo, the Wine Origins Alliance released a short film featuring wine producers around the world talking about the importance of location to the wine they produce. The full film can be viewed here.

“While we may compete in the marketplace, there is consensus among us that when one of our wine region names is misused, the credibility of the industry as a whole is diminished and leads to consumer confusion,” says Allan Sichel, president of the Bordeaux Wine Council. “Consumers have the right to know where their wine comes from. That is in the best interest of the consumer, the vintner, the regions and the wine industry.”

The full poll presentation and additional quotes from Wine Origins Alliance members can be viewed here.

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