Australia: Wine Law

Geographic Indications (GI)

The Australians rely on political boundaries as the basis of their regional classification system. This method is known officially as the Geographical Indication (GI) System. It originated in 1993 pursuant to a trade agreement with the European Union. Here, each delimited area is seen as a quality wine category, but without restrictions on grapes grown or winemaking process. The system is administered by the quasi-governmental agency, the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation.

There are over 100 GIs in Australia with several levels nested one inside another. The first, and largest, is the “Product of Australia” category. Next is the Multistate Zone category, the largest of which is “South Eastern Australia”. This is a superzone that encompasses the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia.

The schema continues following political boundaries: State of Origin is the next most specific category, followed by Zones, Regions, and Subregions. A State of Origin corresponds to the boundaries of a state. Zone, region, and subregion are successively smaller areas with common features in terms of viticulture. For example, Barossa is a zone within the state of South Australia, which is further divided into the subregions of Barossa Valley and Eden Valley.

Label Integrity Program (LIP)

All label laws are policed by the Label Integrity Program (“LIP”), introduced in 1990. The LIP guarantees all claims regarding vintage, variety, and place of origin.

If a wine is categorized as Product of Australia it cannot list a vintage or variety on the label. In order for a GI to appear, at least 85% of the wine grapes must be grown in that area, 85% of the grapes must come from the vintage stated, and 85% of the grape variety must be in the final blend. If more than 15% of a blending grape is added, then the label may list all the grapes in descending order or forego naming any grape variety altogether.

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