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A Formal Welcome Back from On Reserve

This is an official welcome back from On Reserve. Happy 2011! I want to use this entry to discuss the article on wine law I wrote for my law journal last semester and the research process. After spending a good portion of last summer in Europe, I received an invitation to join the Brooklyn Journal of International Law as an editor. After an incredible journey in some of the most prominent wine regions, my academic interest in wine and international law was only enhanced; alas, a law journal with an international nexus seemed like the perfect fit. I accepted the offer and immediately began thinking about my note—which I already knew would focus on wine law.

I originally toyed with writing about H.R. 5034 and the three tier distribution model, writing a comparative law piece on the direct shipment regulations of European countries. I feared preemption as, by the time my note was published, H.R. 5034 could easily be law or it could be tabled. I spoke with several attorneys who also advised that H.R. 5034 was far too political a topic on which to write a journal note (in the past, I read several journal notes dealing with the constitutionality of direct shipment, the 21st Amendment, and the commerce clause, but I also knew such topics did not contain as strong of an international nexus as is required by my journal). With that advice in mind, I deferred any thoughts on H.R. 5034 and explored new topics.

Alas, one night while writing an article about Australia’s ratification of a new wine trade agreement with the European Communities (EC), I discovered my topic: the adaptation of stricter protection for semi-generic wines in the United States. (In September 2010, the gap between non-European and European winemakers widened when Australia ratified an agreement that enforces stricter and more adequate legal protection of European wines and prohibits Australian wine products from using semi-generic names originating in the EC, including Champagne. For more information, see prior On Reserve entries including Australia Adopts EU’s Geographical Indication System, Agreement Between Australia and the European Community on Trade in Wine, and The Impact of the EC-Australia Wine Agreement and TRIPS on Australia Law and Trade.) The original thesis was very broad, arguing for full adaptation of Australia’s new agreement, until I examined every provision of the Australia agreement and determined which could indubitably apply to the United States in the international wine trade. Essentially, the article developed into a piece that advocates the adoption of a similar trade agreement to that between Australia and the EC by the United States for semi-generic wines like Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Claret, Marsala, Moselle, Port, Sautrene, and Sherry. The culmination is forty-six pages, almost 250 footnotes, and entitled, “Australia Corked Its Champagne and So Should We: Enforcing Stricter Protection for Semi-Generic Wines in the United States.” Essentially, this is my wine law research baby.

I so naturally enjoyed researching and writing my note and the end result clearly confirms this. Whereas I researched throughout my four years at Cornell (and before) and was published in the past, I do not think my prior experiences granted me the type of excitement I was so lucky to endure while writing this note on wine law. What started as a natural academic curiosity about a very particular field of law leads me to question my career path every day: should I pursue a legal career focusing on the international regulation of wine? My strongest fear is how niche this area of law is, but I know that many of the skills I could obtain as a wine lawyer will absolutely carry over to other areas of the law. I am also aware that my enthusiasm for this particular legal cavity is more fervid than any other area of the law I am yet to come across and I know, with that power, I would contribute much academically.

I still have (at least) one year ahead of me before I decide where I will step forward post-graduation, but for now, I am applying to spend part of the summer at the University of Reims in Champagne, France at the second annual Wine & Law Program. I am also working on several external publications, access to which will be provided upon publication, and I will be the research assistant for one of the international law professors at Brooklyn Law this upcoming semester. Until then, I always welcome your comments, questions, and ideas atlazahn@winelawonreserve.com.

Best Regards,

Lindsey A. Zahn

Lindsey A. Zahn


Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Jacob January 21, 2011, 11:10 AM

    When will your law review article come out? I would like to read it.



  • Lindsey A. Zahn Lindsey A. Zahn January 23, 2011, 5:06 PM

    Hi Jacob:

    My article should be published within the next year, most likely in the fall. I will provide the details once I am aware of them myself.

    Thank you!

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