China grants Napa Valley GI status

Tuesday, 16 October, 2012

The French have Champagne, Bordeaux and Puligny-Montrachet. The Italians have Piemonte, Toscano and Veneto. Now, the Americans have Napa Valley.

The People’s Republic of China has officially recognised the Napa Valley with Geographic Indication (GI) status, making it the first region outside of China to be recognised with the designation. The GI status will protect consumers against wines illegitimately labelled as being from Napa Valley in the rapidly expanding market.

The GI was published in a report issued by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine that was released recently.

“We are thrilled by the news that China, an economic world power and growing wine importer, has decided to grant Napa Valley this status, and we are honoured to learn that we are the first winegrowing region outside of that country to achieve it,” said Linda Reiff, Napa Valley Vintners’ (NVV’s) executive director.

“This is an historic milestone for the Napa Valley appellation and speaks to the global respect for our region’s reputation and high-quality wines. Having the Chinese government’s official recognition protects the integrity of the Napa Valley brand and does so fairly early on in our efforts to develop this tremendous market. This is a win for Napa Valley and a win for the Chinese consumer,” Reiff said.

The NVV made the request for GI recognition directly from the trade association to the Chinese government - the same process as when seeking GI recognition from the European Union. This had reportedly never been done before in China.

NVV staff and members worked for a number of years with the Chinese government to achieve the GI recognition. Several face-to-face meetings were conducted with Chinese officials meeting the winemakers to learn about Napa Valley’s unique attributes and limited production.

“The Chinese market is only going to increase in importance to us in the coming years. We needed to make sure we were safeguarding our brand and its reputation. It’s clear that they see the value in this from the perspective of the producer, and also from the prospective of the consumers in China,” said Bruce Cakebread, president of Cakebread Cellars, who was active in the negotiations.

Napa Valley has also received GI recognition in India, Thailand, Canada and Brazil. While only 4% of California’s wine is produced in the Napa Valley, nearly 25% of NVV member wineries are importing to China, which is one of the world’s top wine export markets.

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