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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wineries Lobby in Washington for Appellation Protection

Would you buy a wine labeled "Napa" from China? How about a "Champagne" from California? Wineries from the United States, Europe and Australia are meeting with officials in Washington this week to try to get tougher labeling standards for wine that protects specific geographic designations.

The wine world has long given significance to appellations. The belief is that the climate, soil and other growing conditions influence the grapes and that consumers come to expect a certain level of quality from a Bordeaux or a Sonoma wine. The problem is that with fame comes imitators.

In some cases the battle has been going on for generations. Champagne has become a universal word for sparkling wine, while Port is generic for a sweet fortified wine. The makers of the original versions of these wines believe they could boost sales if consumers were not misled by labels of producers not from their regions.

The U.S. and Europe did sign a deal last year to keep wineries from launching new wines using names such as port, sherry or burgundy on the label. Existing brands were grandfathered in under the law and do not have to change their labels.

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