Six wine regions have joined a coalition set up to protect geographical place names.

The six signatories to the Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place Names & Origin
include Sonoma County and Paso Robles from California and the Chianti Classico region in Italy. The other regions to join up are Tokaj in Hungary and two regions in Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

They join the founding participants in the coalition, which include the Napa Valley, Champagne and Jerez.

"Their participation further demonstrates the growing, global movement to protect wine place names," said Peter McCrea, president of the board of directors at Napa Valley Vintners.

Marco Pallanti, president of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, added: "Despite our fierce competition in the worldwide marketplace, we all agree that location is the most important ingredient in creating truly unique and distinctive wines."

To mark the expansion of the coalition, representatives of the wine regions met with the US Congress, officials of the Bush administration and local leaders and dignitaries in Washington DC to inform them of their joint efforts to protect wine drinkers from misleading labels.