The People's Republic of China has announced that Napa Valley has been recognized with Geographic Indication (GI) status in that country. Napa Valley is the first wine region outside of China to be so recognized with this designation. It provides the pivotal element in consumer protection against wines illegitimately labeled as being from Napa Valley in this important and rapidly expanding market.
"We are thrilled by the news that China, an economic world power and growing wine importer, has decided to grant Napa Valley this status, and we are honored to learn that we are the first winegrowing region outside of that country to achieve it," said Linda Reiff, NVV's executive director. "This is an historic milestone for the Napa Valley appellation and speaks to the global respect for our region's reputation and high-quality wines."
"Having the Chinese government's official recognition protects the integrity of the Napa Valley brand, and does so fairly early-on in our efforts to develop this tremendous market. This is a 'win' for Napa Valley and a 'win' for the Chinese consumer," Reiff said.
As was the case when achieving GI recognition from the European Union, the NVV made the request directly from the trade association to the government. Similarly with the EU, this had not been done before in China. Given the world-wide renown of brand Napa Valley, government officials saw the need and the value for this recognition.
The NVV members and staff worked for many years with the Chinese government to achieve the GI including several face-to-face meetings in Beijing. Meeting the winemakers, learning more about the unique attributes and the limited production of Napa's wines helped officials better understand the importance of this initiative.
"The Chinese market is only going to increase in importance to us in the coming years. We needed to make sure we were safeguarding our brand and its reputation. It's clear that they see the value in this from both the perspective of the producer, but also from the perspective of the consumers in China," said Cakebread Cellars' President Bruce Cakebread, who actively participated in the negotiations.
The NVV has been bringing trade missions of vintners to China for more than 14 years and consumer and trade enthusiasm is strong. Though Napa Valley accounts for just 4 per cent of California's wine production, nearly 25 per cent of NVV member wineries are exporting to China.
It's one of the world's top wine export markets.
This important announcement complements the NVV's work not only in the EU, but Napa Valley has already received GI recognition in India, Thailand, Canada, and just last week Brazil, guaranteeing consumers have meaningful wine labels in these important and emerging global markets.
"In perspective, this is the present-day equivalent of 1976's Judgment of Paris in terms of solidifying Napa Valley's place as a leader in the world-wide wine industry," said Napa County Agricultural Commissioner Dave Whitmer.
The NVV credited the diligence of its vintner leaders as well as Richard Mendelson and Scott Gerien of Dickenson, Peatman and Fogarty, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner Dave Whitmer, and its advisor in Beijing, Xuemin Chen.
The Napa Valley Vintners is the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation as the premier winegrowing region. From seven founding members in 1944, today the association represents 435 Napa Valley wineries and collectively is a leader in the world-wide wine industry. To learn more about our region and its legendary American wines, visit www.napavintners.com.