Photo: Ewen Bell / Wine Australia

The use of geographical indications (GIs) and traditional expressions (TEs) on wine business websites

Frequently asked questions
Photo: Ewen Bell / Wine Australia

Q: Why did Australia agree to these rules? What did we gain?

A: The use of protected GIs, TEs and other terms are governed by the agreement between Australia and the European Community on Trade in Wine. In return for Australia agreeing to protect the use of these GIs, TEs and terms, the European Community agreed to protect our GI terms and its wine regulations were relaxed for Australian wines being imported into the European Union (EU). Some examples of benefits are:

  • Alcohol
    • the maximum alcohol limit was raised from 15 per cent to 20 per cent
    • the tolerance between label and actual alcohol content was lifted from 0.5 per cent to 0.8 per cent, and
    • measurements can be expressed on the label in tenths of a unit rather than whole or half units.
  • Winemaking techniques: the EU recognises Australia’s wine production techniques, additives and processing aids that are identified in our Food Standards Code. This alleviates the need for making separate blends for the EU market.
  • Blending rules: Australian wine can be presented in the EU using our rules to underpin vintage, variety and regional claims. For example, without this it would not be possible to present Australian wine in the EU as a cross-regional blend, or to present a Shiraz–Cabernet unless the two varieties constituted the entire blend.
  • Simplified certification: Only three test results need to be included rather than the usual eight. There are also simplified reporting requirements on the document so that, for example, complex HS codes do not need to be included.

Q: Can a registered GI that is not where the winegrapes were produced be used to advertise wines on our website? (e.g. ‘This Coonawarra Cabernet is reminiscent of a great Bordeaux’.)

A: No, you can only use a GI where it is the origin of the winegrapes. The Wine Australia Act 2013 prohibits the use of all other registered GIs in all advertising material relating to the sale of wine – this includes websites.

Q: Can I refer to a registered GI if our winemaker has previously worked there?

A: Yes, you can make a statement such as ‘our winemaker has completed several vintages overseas including a top Château in Bordeaux’, providing it is not being used to distinguish or sell a particular wine. Additionally, such a statement should only appear on a separate page to pages where wine is sold (i.e. ‘about us’ or ‘meet the winemaker’ page).

Q: Can I include the name of a registered GI when referring to our vine stocks? E.g. ‘Our Pinot Noir is made with a blend of MV6 and three Burgundy clones: 114, 115 and 777.’?

A: No, this statement could not be used anywhere on your website, as the use of Burgundy is being used to distinguish a particular wine. However, if you changed the wording to ‘Our vineyard is planted to 2 acres of MV6 and 1 acre each of 3 traditional Burgundian clones Pinot Noir 114, 115 and 777’ AND providing the statement isn’t on a page where customers can buy your wine, this would be permitted.

Q: Can I refer to styles that have inspired our wine? E.g. ‘This Vin Jaune style takes inspiration from the commune of Arbois, and we think it’s the best imitation Jura wine from Australia.

A: No. In this example, the TE Vin Jaune is not permitted, even though it is accompanied by the word ‘style’. Both Arbois and Jura are protected GIs and therefore not permitted to be used as part of the presentation or description of the wine, regardless of the fact that Jura is preceded by ‘imitation’.

Q: Can I refer to a registered GI in reference to where the grape variety or style originated? E.g. ‘The spiritual home of Nebbiolo is in the Piemonte region of north west Italy.’

A: No. The protection of GIs, TEs and other terms exists regardless of the context in which the term is used. For example, the above statement cannot be used in relation to the sale of wine as it contains a protected GI, the fact that it is being used to describe the grape variety does not allow for the use of Piemonte.

Q: What about European country names? Can I use them?

A: Yes, you can use country names as long as you don’t mislead as to the origin of the wine. For example, the use of ‘French oak’ is fine and, similarly, ‘oak from France’ is okay, but if it were used in conjunction with images of, for example, the French countryside, the French flag or the Eiffel tower, it would not be allowed.

Q: A wine writer reviewed my wine and likened it to a Châteauneuf-du-pape, can I use their review, that includes a protected European GI on my website?

A: Yes, but only if where it is placed does not directly relate the sale of wine.

More information about our agreement with the EU can be found here.

Put simply, these practices would not be allowed were it not for the wine agreement and Australia’s agreement to the stringent regulation of the use of protected European terms. Without this agreement, specific blends would be required for wine destined for the EU than for the domestic market and other destination markets.​

Updated 1 June 2018.