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Napa Valley Vintners Continues Fight to Prevent Consumer Deception

Date: 08/28/13


The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) announced it has obtained certification mark protection for the Napa Valley name in the country of Norway, another milestone for the trade association in its efforts to protect consumers from deceptive wine labeling practices. For more than a decade, from crafting California’s Napa Name Law in 2000 and defending its integrity against various appeals, including at the U.S. Supreme Court level, this latest achievement is another in the NVV’s effort to proactively protect the Napa Valley name from misuse.

In a related matter, the NVV is also petitioning the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to ensure adequate safeguards are put in place before it proceeds with the expansion of available domain names to include .wine and .vin.

Agreements are in place with ICANN that prohibit registering country names recognized by the United Nations in front of extensions such as .wine and .vin. However, Napa, Napa Valley and many other renowned wine regions might not be protected, meaning they could be registered by any entity for any purpose, including deceptive purposes. The NVV, along with other famous wine regions like Champagne, is advocating for secondary level protection of geographic indications to curtail the interests of those who might misappropriate the names of any number of quality wine regions.

“Consumers worldwide need to know where their wine comes from,” said Sam Heitner, director of the Office of Champagne, USA. “Place names like Napa Valley and Champagne are integral to consumer understanding and to differentiating wines from different regions. As more and more consumers gain information online, we believe it is imperative that adequate safeguards be put in place to protect wine growing place names and stand with Napa Valley in their efforts to ensure this happens before the .wine and .vin strings are approved for use worldwide.”

“Our work to protect the Napa Valley name from piracy will never be done,” commented Rex Stults, the NVV’s government relations director. “Right now, we are petitioning a number of countries for certification mark protection or Geographic Indication (GI) status and initiatives, like our outreach to ICANN regarding the wine-related domain names, are just a few examples. Sadly, there are many in the world who wish to illegitimately use our good name for their own profit and gain. For the interest of our nearly 500 winery members, this work can never stop.”

Napa Valley was the first wine region outside of China to obtain GI status in the People’s Republic of China late last year and was the first non-European wine region to obtain GI status in the European Union in 2008. To date, the Napa Valley name is protected by GI status or trademark registration in nearly a dozen countries.

About the Napa Valley Vintners

The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) is the nonprofit 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 nearly 500 Napa Valley wineries and is a leader in the worldwide wine industry. To learn more about our region and its legendary American wines, visit

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