From as far back as we can remember wines have been labeled with their place of origin. Over centuries, certain wines have become famous and their names prestigious due to their unique quality. Ex: Chianti, Champagne, Porto, Rioja, Tokaji, etc.
Origin wines are treated as intellectual property rights (IPRs).Their particularity resides in the fact that they originate in a specific geographical location and that they have qualities and characteristics which are essentially due to their region of provenance and their production method. Origin wines usually bear the geographical name of the area in which they originate, although there are some exceptions, such as “Muscadet” in France, “Cava” in Spain and “Vinho Verde” in Portugal.
In order to protect the specificity and reputation of these wines, several European wine producing countries have established ad hoc legal frameworks to guarantee the quality and origin of these wines. In France, origin wines are protected as appellation d’origine contrôlée (registered designation of origin – AOC) or vin de pays; in Hungary, as Minőségi bor; Védett eredetű bor, Tájbor; in Italy as Denominazione di origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT); in Portugal as Denominação de Origem Controlada (D.O.C.) and Vinhos Regionais. In Spain as vino de la tierra, vino de calidad con indicación geográfica, vino con denominación de origen (D.O.), vino con denominación de origen calificada (D.O.C.).
The origin wine system is based on a so-called “specification” which is unique to each of the origin wine. The “specification” sets out precise rules regarding the vineyards, the production area, the grapes that must be used, the production process that must be followed, the specific labelling and packaging that must be respected. The specification also defines the controls that are performed at the different stage of the production and packaging phases.
The origin wine policy:
- Encourages wine producers operators to embrace higher quality standards
- Offers reliable and clear information to consumers concerning the products’ origin and quality.
Moreover, because the production of origin wines is rooted in their territories and cannot be delocalized, origin wine production contributes directly to:
- the promotion of traditional products, in particular those originating from less-favoured or rural regions
- the improvement of the revenues of winemakers
- the preservation of rural areas and landscapes
The origin wines’ specificity has been recognized at the European Union level since the nineteen seventies in the context of the wine Common Market Organisation (CMO). In the European Union, origin wines are protected either as Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). They are subject to specific rules with regard to their production and labelling, but also as far as their protection and promotion is concerned.
At the International level, origin wines also enjoy a specific protection, in particular under the World Trade Organisation trade-related intellectual property rights agreement (TRIPs) and the International Organisation of Vine and Wine as geographical indications. The EU has also secured a protection for origin wines in the context of several bilateral agreements with third countries, although the level of protection granted varies widely from one country to the other and is often too limited.
The concept of registered designation of origin is becoming more and more widespread and universal. The success of this model is now giving European competitors food for thought and they, in turn, are starting to promote their regional soils by producing wines with geographical indications. Origin wines can be found in many wine producing countries, such as Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, ect.