I thought I would attempt to clarify what this is all about and bust a few myths along the way.
What is being applied for?
To be clear the primary term protection is being sought for is “British Sparkling.” The press have latched on to “Brit Fizz” because of a tweet.
The application is worded thus:
Product: SPARKLING WINE – PROTECTED NAME: BRITISH SPARKLING WINE PGI
- DETAILS OF PROTECTION
- a) Name(s) to be registered: BRITISH
- b) Equivalent terms: BRITISH FIZZ, WINE OF GREAT BRITAIN, GREAT BRITISH WINE, GREAT BRITISH FIZZ, BRITFIZZ, BRIT FIZZ, BRIT FIZ, G.B. FIZZ, BRITISH BUBBLY, G.B.BUBBLY, G.B.SPARKLING,
- c) Geographical indication type: PGI
The other English and Welsh PDOs and PGIs are still there. This does not impact on them and the industry and producers can brand and label as they see fit anyway.
Why Have We Done This Now?
We have opened up a debate, a veritable hornets nest it seems, but why?
It wasn’t just a tweet and a subsequent dinner table discussion going large, although that had speeded up events. With the triggering of Article 50 on the horizon and the subsequent timetabling it gives us the opportunity to bring this issue to the fore and start a debate about ‘British’ and not just within the context of UK/English produced wines. There is a wider debate about ‘Brand British’ one that is very much at the heart of the Brexit debate where food and drink is concerned. It naturally becomes more important as we leave the EU and provides opportunities to attempt to correct issues like this one. This is very much in line with the joint position taken by the UKVA and EWP in our Brexit statement.
Within the context of the ‘British’ made wine industry this becomes a uniquely complex and confusing issue for consumers – clearly this cannot go unchallenged. Click here to read this story to see what I mean.
What this approach certainly does is highlight an absurdity that a term our industry should be able to take for granted to use and have protected for it cannot do so at present, because of EU rules and because there exists a ‘made wine’ industry that can import juice or must to make a low cost product that has a right to use the term “British wine.” This confusion has persisted for decades and could become even more confusing as the industry grows and exports increase.
The industry also needs the protection it provides to the consumer in ensuring that British Sparkling is a truly British product, made from grapes grown in Britain for the production of quality bottle fermented wine.
I need not go on about the value of this name overseas where terms such as English sparkling and English wine are much less used than here. Overseas we are seen and described as British people and our products are British – hence we see ‘Brit Fizz’ on New York wine lists.
As a wine merchant and producer, like so many others out there, I have spent countless hours, sometimes fruitlessly it seems, trying to educate the homegrown British public and consumers about the difference between “English Wines” and “British Wines” – what other food and drink industry has to endure this situation?
We are aware of the argument that there is no barrier to use the terms but I think the industry has made it clear on many occasions that it simply does not go far enough. The risks to our industry and our high quality products is too great. Bob Lindo highlighted that this was on the agenda at the inaugural meeting of the EVA in 1967 and it is still on the agenda.
Why does it seem so controversial?
As sense of dissent on this issue appears to have come from an area that has some responsibility to represent the British made wine industry. That is only natural. And all because of a tweet! Such is the nature of modern world and social media.
We are keen to work with politicians and all bodies and businesses that have an interest in this and as the process will take considerable time much can happen, much can be tweaked and, most importantly, the debate can evolve.
I hope that this goes some way to clarifying where we are for members and the public further afield.
I’ll bring you updates as and when.
Your views and comments are welcomed!