Prosecco is the name of a grape variety used to produce sparkling wine in countries across the world. The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) recognises Prosecco as a grape variety in its International list of vine varieties and their synonyms – the global reference point for grape variety names.
Australia’s Prosecco market is booming. The total value of Australian Prosecco production is estimated at around $205 million to December 2021, growing from a small base of just over $60 million in 2017. Around 95% of this is currently sold on the Australian domestic market.
Internationally, the Prosecco market is growing at a phenomenal rate. Prosecco now outsells French Champagne in volume with a 36% total volume market share of sparkling wine. Australia is one of the fastest growing sparkling wine markets in the world and in the US, Prosecco is the fastest growing sparkling wine category.
In New Zealand, Australian Prosecco exports have shown continued growth with current value of $3.3 million. The EU (Italy) is driving a protectionist agenda through FTA negotiations. In 2009, Italy changed the name of the Prosecco grape variety to Glera within the European Union (EU). Italy then registered Prosecco as a Geographical Indication (GI) in the EU, effectively shutting out imports labelled with the Prosecco grape variety from all other countries.
The EU is now expanding efforts to gain exclusive use of the name Prosecco in other global markets. In 2013, the Australian wine industry successfully challenged an EU application to claim Prosecco as a GI in Australia.
Prosecco could be the tip of the iceberg. In recent EU trade negotiations China, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and New Zealand attempts were made to protect an expanding list of grape varieties including Prosecco, Fiano, Montepulciano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola, Alicante, Dolcetto, and others as GIs. All of these varieties are grown across Australia’s 65 wine regions.
The EU is exporting a protectionist agenda out of step with Australia’s longstanding commitment to rules-based international trade. If the EU is willing to ban French producers from using the grape-variety name “Vermentino” (as happened in 2022) imagine how willing they would be to trample on the rights of Australia’s grape growers and winemakers.