I’ve just written an article on ‘Developing Appellations’, which discusses some of the controversies and pitfalls surrounding the creation of geographic indications (GIs) in emerging wine regions.
Here are a few brief thoughts.
First, it’s quite useful to read this document on the topic from the World Intellectual Property Organization. It’s a broad look at the whole process, referring across a range of product types. The definition of a GI is as follows:
A geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
Second, I think caution is in order before new GIs are created. Commercial incentives and local pride encourage the creation of GIs and this can over-ride the science and logic. The result? A profusion of meaningless GIs that confuse the public.
Also, controlling and mean-spirited people can punish people they don’t like by denying them the GI – this is especially the case when some sort of tasting panel is used. GIs can add more rules and form filling without any real benefit being derived.
Wine is already complicated enough. New GIs should only be created when it’s plainly obvious that they need to be because the differences in physical vineyard conditions create wines that are noticeably different. Even then, people should proceed with caution. And I also think that GIs should be linked to variety (or varieties) for them to make sense.
If you get a chance to read the longer article, let me know your thoughts.