Margaret River's wine industry is set to enter a new era based on harsh commercial realities after a crisis meeting sparked by a legal dispute over rights to the historic Wallcliffe name.
The industry is set to ratify the names commonly used to describe sub-regions in Margaret River and to establish clear rules on branding and labelling for the first time.
The issue of whether Wallcliffe survives as one of those sub-regions remains unresolved after the biggest gathering of producers in more than 10 years.
Emotions ran high yesterday as more than 50 producers met behind closed doors over French-owned Cape Mentelle's pursuit of exclusive rights to the name Wallcliffe, which has been part of the State's history since the 1800s.
Margaret River Wine Industry Association president Nigel Gallop described the meeting as a wake-up call. "The area is maturing as a wine producing region and well on its way to being one of the great regions of the world," he said.
"People are investing significantly and they both desire and deserve certainty when they think about what names they can and can't use."
Mr Gallop said the industry should have acted sooner on naming conventions and formalising sub-regions. The Yallingup, Carbanup, Treeton, Wilyabrup, Wallcliffe and Karridale sub-regions were identified in 1999 but never ratified.
The issue came to a head after Cape Mentelle - owned by Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton - threatened Flametree winery and the MRWIA with legal action.
Cape Mentelle believes the name Wallcliffe is its intellectual property and had been pressuring the MRWIA to rename the sub-region.
Cape Mentelle winemaker Rob Mann said public brawling did not help the image of Margaret River winemakers and he hoped the dispute could be settled amicably.