Wine growers in the Hunter Valley region of Rothbury will not be able to use the name to identify their wine’s origins.
Fosters has successfully won the right to continue controlling the use of the name Rothbury, not only for wine but anything else such as clothing, materials, non alcoholic beverages and foods.
The Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association attempted to have the area of Rothbury classified as a Geographical Indication (GI), but we opposed by beverage giant Fosters which owns The Rothbury Estate wine brand and the trademark for the word “Rothbury”.
President of the association Geoff Krieger, is disappointed the area’s winemakers won’t be able to correctly label the wines from there because of the trademark.
“If you ask anyone in the Hunter, they will tell you Rothbury is a place,” he said.
“As consumers and wine enthusiast demand great details about wine, they want to know exactly where it comes from or as the French would say its Terroir.”
IP Australia, which governs trademark law, found that the Rothbury name was not used previously by wine growers to identify the wine from a specific region, said Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation acting chief executive, Jock Osborne.
“Because Fosters trademark of Rothbury predates Australian Geographical Indication law, under The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act 19800, the name can not be used as a GI.”
Osborne added that having a trademark name did not mean Fosters had to source their wine from Rothbury, as it was not a GI.
Fosters sold their last remaining Rothbury Estate vineyard to Hope Estate in 2006, and now uses wines from a variety of regions including the Hunter Valley, Mudgee and Orange to make the win under the label.
However, new owners of the vineyard, Michael Hope, is not allowed to put Rothbury on his wines labels.
Fosters spokesperson, Troy Hey, said The Rothbury Estate wines had always sourced grapes form a variety of vineyards, not just from Rothbury, and that continues to be the case.
“Rothbury is our brand and not a word representing that areas,” he said.
“The Rothbury brand has been identified and continues to be identified with The Rothbury Estate wines.”
The Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association is now looking to have other sub regions in the area such as Mt View and Belford classified before another trademark objection can occur, said Krieger.
“As far as Rothbury is concerned, there is nothing else we can do, it’s now owned by a multinational organisation.”