US and European wine regions step up campaign to protect online wine names

American winemakers were joined by their counterparts from Champagne at a conference on deregulating internet domain names in an effort to boost awareness of how weaker controls would negatively impact the wine business.


US and European winemakers argue deregulating domain names could confuse consumers

A group of winemakers held a tasting at the ICANN51 conference to raise awareness about the effect such deregulation could have on their businesses.

If .wine and .vin are granted to firms outside the wine industry, second-level domain names such as could be owned by a company that has never seen a vineyard, cultivated grapes or made a single bottle of wine, the group argued.

It held a tasting at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers Conference in Los Angeles, in order to draw attention to the importance location plays in wine and how new internet domain names, unless properly regulated, could damage both consumers and small and medium sized wine producers.

ICANN was meeting to discuss safeguards before delegating the new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) .wine and .vin and was greeted by winemakers from Napa Valley, Santa Barbara, Oregon, Long Island and Champagne.

“Winemakers worldwide know that when it comes to wine, location matters,” said Morgen McLaughlin, executive director of the Santa Barbara Vintners. “The integrity of wine place names is a fundamental tool for consumers to identify the wines of great winegrowing regions. That’s why we are working together to combat any scheme that negatively impacts our ability to protect against the fraudulent use of our wine regions’ names and could seriously undermine the protection our consumers expect.”

Santa Barbara County is one of 19 members of the Declaration to Protect Wine Place & Origin, which is a set of principles aimed at educating consumers about the importance of location to winemaking.

“This is an issue of importance to winemaking regions across the globe,” said Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council. “Without effective safeguards that reflect the critical role location has in the wine industry, the new extensions will have a significant, negative economic impact on our regions and the many small and medium sized businesses we represent by increasing the potential for consumer confusion and increased cyber-squatting.”

The Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place Names & Origin was signed in Napa Valley on July 26, 2005. Signatories include: Champagne, Bourgogne/Chablis, Bordeaux, Chianti Classico, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Long Island, Napa Valley, Oregon, Paso Robles, Porto, Rioja, Santa Barbara County, Sonoma County, Victoria, Tokaj, Walla Walla Valley, Washington State, Willamette Valley and Western Australia. More information on the declaration is available through


Readers' comments (2)

  • It is NOT a meeting to deregulate domain names. It is all about regulating them. There are extensive regulstions about their use and misuse. The .wine/.vin controversy shows how government interference in the existing rules is not healthy.

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  • As I update the hundreds of links to wineries all over the world on my web site, I realize how many have been hi-jacked or squatted upon, often over a relatively short span of months.
    Regulation of domain names is neither the problem nor the solution. The problem is the proliferation of domain names. The only way to prevent the mis-use of domain names is to prevent their creation in the first place.

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