EXCLUSIVE: European Union Awards Willamette Valley Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Status

Willamette Valley Wineries Association wins Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status from the European Commission.

Wine Business Monthly EXCLUSIVE:

European Union Awards Willamette Valley Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Status

by L.M. Archer

Portland, Ore. —Today Willamette Valley Wineries Association (WVWA) announced Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status and protection by the European Union (EU), one of only two US wine regions so awarded.

Protecting Authenticity

PGI status protects “Willamette Valley” as a registered place name worldwide.

It also guarantees against counterfeits, ensuring authenticity and quality to over 450 million consumers in 27 EU countries. All GI applicants face the same stringent qualification requirements, EU and non-EU alike.

“When we received the direct application from the Willamette Valley Wineries Association to register the name ‘Willamette Valley,’ an analysis was carried out to establish the causal link between the specific qualities of the ‘Willamette Valley’ wines and the characteristics of the geographical area, the valley, where the product originates,”says a European Commission spokesperson. “It confirmed the uniqueness of the Willamette Valley wines, with features such as notes of bright, fresh ripe fruits and minerality from growing on hillsides of volcanic and sedimentary soils.”

“A Place Perfect in All Ways”

Ultimately, the Willamette Valley’s path to PGI designation took nearly twenty years, thanks to the stewardship of winemaker Harry Peterson-Nedry of RR Winery/Ridgecrest Vineyards. “I didn’t project a time for completion, just kept plodding along,” he says. “It’s a little like beginning an industry, or a vineyard or winery – you take it a vintage at a time, and look back only when you stop to take a breath, or are forced to.”

Initially, a handful of like-minded wine regions, including the Willamette Valley, met in the early 2000’s to discuss preserving place names. “Europe has similar desires for this tightly bound purity,” recalls Peterson-Nedry. “So with suggestions from several of them, especially Champagne, we joined a Declaration of Place, consummated in 2005, as a worldwide effort to protect place names.” READ FULL EXCLUSIVE HERE.


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