Abstract: French Collective Wine Branding in Comparative Perspective, Nineteenth-Twentieth Centuries

Alessandro Stanziani

Abstract

The set of rules adopted from 1935 on and defining wine collective labels for wine in France has been a formidable institutional tool for the economic activity of a group of producers. For decades, the winegrowers and merchants of Bordeaux and Champagne were to be protected not only from foreign counterfeiting but also from the temptations of some among them to make unilateral changes in production techniques or simply to "cheat." This French scheme enjoyed great success in other European countries, especially in Spain and Italy where, for reasons similar to those in France, wine production played an important role in market equilibrium and in the introduction of quality norms. In contrast, collective trademarks (but not trademarks of origin) were not used in Anglo-Saxon countries, where product value was mainly indicated by individual trademarks and <i>terroir</i> was not an economic and legal asset. We explore reasons for that. The first was the fact that the rules governing wines as food products were part of an institutional framework that emphasized health quality (hence the connection with drugs) and product quality. Another reason for the absence of collective trademarks in Anglo-Saxon countries was linked to the fact that, in contrast to France, the rise of wine production took place after the introduction of organic chemistry and "industrial" methods of winemaking and conservation.