Hearty Burgundy, Chablis, California Chianti: Is Col Fondo Next?

Hearty Burgundy, Chablis, Chianti and Champagne from California: There’s nothing that European winemakers can do to stop North American wineries from using these fake designations. Is Col Fondo next?

We recently came across a page on the website for a North American winery that featured a “bubbly” wine: A “Col Fondo” made from a local grape variety.

The description of the wine explains that “This style is known as Ancestral in France, or ‘Col Fondo’ in Prosecco, or Pet Nat in the natural wine circles.”

We found it really curious that the author of the description used inverted commas for col fondo even though she or he did not use them for the other analogous methods.

Maybe that’s because ancestral and pet nat are truly generic designations that have been used all over the world for many years whereas col fondo is a designation that only recently began to appear. And maybe it’s because col fondo is a designation that is associated solely with the places where Prosecco DOCG is made — the townships of Valdobbiadene, Conegliano, and Asolo whereas the other terms are used generically in a number of appellations and wine labels across the world.

Our heart really sank when we saw North Americans writing “col fondo” on their label. Does this mean that col fondo is going to be the world’s next Hearty Burgundy?

There’s not much recourse for European winemakers when they see their American counterparts use terms like Hearty Burgundy, Chablis, Chianti, and Champagne on their labels. European Union trademark laws only apply to Europe. And the U.S. and Canada don’t seem very interested in stopping wineries from using these faux designations.

As one of Luca’s Facebook friends commented, perhaps the only way to stop this is to trademark the name. But that still wouldn’t affect North American bottlers.

As Luca responded to his friend, perhaps the only way forward is to consider the long-term in building awareness of col fondo.

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