The Willamette Valley wine-growing region in Oregon (American Viticultural Area, AVA) has become the second US region to be granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status under EU law. Red, rosé and white wines, as well as sparkling wines, are thus to receive greater protection, for example against counterfeiting.
"The culmination of almost a decade's work, this milestone recognizes the quality of Willamette Valley wine and protects the Willamette Valley name from misuse and fraudulent labeling in the EU and in many markets around the world," the Willamette Valley Wineries Association commented on the decision.
“As wine regions develop global recognition for quality, their success often carries with it the threat of tangential producers looking to capitalize on their marketing cachet.”
The first US wine region to be recognised by the EU as a PGI is Napa Valley, which received the status in 2007.
European Union Ambassador to the United States Stavros Lambrinidis said, "As a registered Protected Geographical Indication, the Willamette Valley name is secured throughout the EU market of 27 countries counting 450 million consumers. Any operator seeking to sell non-originating wine using the registered Oregon name, or using labelling devices to evoke ‘Willamette Valley’ in the mind of the consumer, will be stopped.”
He also encouraged other US producers to join the Willamette Valley PGI: "The EU system is open to direct applications from all producers who are committed to quality and value the unique origin of their product."
In total, there are 40 products (32 foods, 3 wines and 5 spirits) that do not originate in Europe but enjoy protection of origin as PGI or PDO under EU law.
The Willamette Valley AVA covers a total area of 1,391,309 hectares in the northwestern part of Oregon between the Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range, of which about 10,300 are planted with wine, 7,140 with Pinot Noir alone. aw