The great name debate: Prosecco

Why are the Australians allowed to use the word Prosecco when it’s a legally protected name for use only in the Italian regions of Veneto and Friuli?

The Australians planted Prosecco grapes (prior to the grape’s name change to Glera) in 1974 in the King Valley, as Caroline Brown, of Brown Brothers Wines in Milawa, Victoria, explains.

Pictured: Caroline and Katherine Brown, of Brown Brothers Wines


What led to you making a Prosecco and what year was that?

CB:  The first Australian plantings of the grape variety Prosecco were in the King Valley, Victoria, in 1974 by the Dal Zotto family.  Our family members have always had a fantastic relationship with other wine producers in the region. Many of the varieties we make have an Italian influence, so when the opportunity arose to grow prosecco, we jumped at it.

When was the first Brown Brothers Prosecco made?

CB:  We released our first Prosecco in 2008. In the beginning, it was very much an education piece, explaining what Prosecco is, how it’s made and why the King Valley is a premium prosecco growing region.  Now, nearly everyone knows what Prosecco is, it’s pretty much become part of the everyday vernacular, “Let’s catch up over a Prosecco.”

Where did Brown Brothers Prosecco begin?

CB:  Nearly all our new varieties start their life in our Kindergarten winery, including Prosecco.  The Kindergarten or Kinder is our experimental and innovation micro-winery.  It operates like a larger winery would, but on a smaller scale.

It’s  very hands on with small tanks and small amounts of grapes.  Each year we trial new varieties, and new winemaking methods.  Sometimes we find or create something amazing, other times we go back to the drawing board.

How much of your sales is Prosecco today percentage wise?

CB:  The Brown Brothers Prosecco range makes up nearly 20% of our company sales.

How come you are allowed to legally use the name Prosecco in Australia and New Zealand?

CB:  Prosecco is the name of a grape variety used to produce sparkling wine. Prosecco is a historically recognised grape variety, including by the Paris based, International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).


  • In 2009, Italy changed the name of the Prosecco grape variety to Glera within the European Union (EU). Glera was virtually unknown and rarely used as an alternative name to describe the Prosecco grape variety in Italy.
  • Italy then registered Prosecco as a Geographical Indication (GI) in the EU, effectively shutting out wine imports labelled with the Prosecco grape variety from all other countries.
  • The Australian wine industry unreservedly rejects GI claims relating to Prosecco.
  • In 2013 the Australian wine industry successfully challenged an EU application to claim Prosecco as a GI in Australia.

What is the residual sugar in Brown Brothers Prosecco?

CB:  Our Prosecco NV and Prosecco Rose NV have 12 grams per litre of  residual sugar.  Consumers are definitely starting to look for a drier style Prosecco, which is great for us as the residual sugar hasn’t changed much over the years.

Any future plans with Prosecco at Brown Brothers?

We have recently launched our Limited Edition George Rose Prosecco in the New Zealand market, along with Prosecco Spritz.  We have also just launched Prosecco NV in a can with an exclusive retailer here in Australia.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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