New Zealand has its first trademarked wine region for members of Appellation Marlborough Wine – all grapes in AMW wines must be 100% from the region to bear the trademark

It seemed like an idea way ahead of its time when a friend of mine suggested that Marlborough wines needed a trademark to guarantee their authenticity. It was the late 1980s and we were in our early 20s, just moving onto Sauvignon Blanc after being initiated in the world of wine via Montana Wohnsiedler Muller-Thurgau (the most planted grape in the country, at that stage) followed by Fairhall River Claret and the occasional bottle of Spanish red, if we could find one. Those weren’t the days to be thinking of protecting wine regions of origin in a country whose wine industry was in its infancy, to say the least. Except for friends like that one of mine, who naturally thought outside the square and was clear headed about the potential success of Marlborough wine. Fast forward to 2018 when Appellation Marlborough Wine™ was first established to protect the origin of wine made in Marlborough.

This year its trademark has become official. Appellation Marlborough Wine has now been legally trademarked in all of the key global wine markets.

There are now 49 members of Appellation Marlborough Wine and over 90 certified wines from some of the region’s best known wine companies.

There are nearly 300,000 acres of Sauvignon Blanc planted worldwide and it makes up over 85% of all wine exported from New Zealand; Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, that is. This equates to exports worth $1.83 billion, according to the 2019 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The crucial factors for members of Appellation Marlborough Wine™ are quality and authenticity, say winemakers who belong to the new organisation.

What is an Appellation Marlborough Wine?

Here is the criteria set out by AMW members:

To bear the AMW brand, members have to ensure their wine is made from grapes grown entirely in Marlborough and cropped at or below set parameters, established according to soil type and vine density variability. If a proposed wine contains any portion exceeding that level, it must be approved by an independent panel of qualified, experienced local producers.

The wines must also come from grapes harvested from vineyards certified by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand, and must be bottled in New Zealand, under New Zealand regulations.

Chair of Appellation Marlborough Wine Ivan Sutherland, owner of Dog Point Vineyards, says there are now over 90 Sauvignon Blanc labels wearing the AMW trademark.

“Appellation Marlborough Wine is about protecting the reputation this region has worked hard to build. It provides the wine buying public of the world with an assurance they can see and trust.”

“We’ve now trademarked the brand in all of the key global wine markets which has been a huge undertaking. This is the first step in protecting NZ wine that has now become a global icon.”

Cloudy Bay Estate Director Yang Shen says the AMW brand is a necessary evolution for a maturing wine industry in New Zealand, with its increasing range of producers, wines, markets and motivations.

“Our members know that it is vital to protect the integrity of our industry, recognising that Marlborough wine is globally unique, extraordinary and 100% worth protecting.”