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Category archives for “winemaking terms”

What is in the Bottle? Rules for California Appellations on Wine Labels

November 10th, 2014

Appellations of origin are the place names that describe where the grapes that make up a given wine were grown.  There are rules controlling the statement of appellation on the label, all of which are aimed at making sure that the label of the product accurately reflects what is inside the bottle.  Most of the appellation labeling rules are in the Code of Federal Regulations at 27 CFR Part 4, but state law must also be considered, and can sometimes be more limiting than the federal rules.

Appellations are required on wines if the label also includes a varietal designation or a vintage year (27 CFR 4.34(b)). The chart below lists some of the basics on appellations for wines made from California grapes.

Federal Rules

Appellation on Label What is in the Bottle?
California 75% of the fruit must be from California and the wine must be finished within California or an adjoining state. (27 CFR 4.25)
A County in California 75% of the fruit has to be from the county and the wine has to be finished in California. (27 CFR 4.25)
Two or Three Counties in California All of the fruit has to come from the listed counties, the percentage of fruit from each county has to be listed on the label, and the wine has to be finished in California. No more than three counties can be listed. (27 CFR 4.25)
An American Viticultural Area (AVA) in California AVAs are specific geographic areas approved by the TTB.  A list of all of the AVAs in the country is available here. 85% of the fruit has to come from the AVA and the wine has to be finished in California. (27 CFR 4.25)

 

Special California Requirements

Appellation on Label Special California Rule
“California” or any geographical subdivision of California (including a county or two or three counties) 100% of fruit must come from California. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 17, § 17015). This rule is more specific than the federal rules, and means that any wine with a California appellation of any kind must be made from 100% California fruit.
“Sonoma County” Labels MUST say this if also labeled with an AVA entirely within Sonoma County. (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 25246)
“Napa Valley” Labels MUST say this if also labeled with an AVA entirely within Napa County. (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 25240)
“Lodi” Labels MUST say this if also labeled with an AVA entirely within the Lodi AVA (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 25245)
“Paso Robles” Labels MUST say this if also labeled with an AVA entirely within the Paso Robles AVA (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 25244)
“Napa”, “Sonoma” and any AVA in Napa County The rules for using “Napa,” “Sonoma,” and any AVAs in Napa are especially strict.  Those terms cannot appear on the labels unless the wine in the bottle qualifies for use of the term under the federal labeling regulations.(Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 25241, 25242 and 27 CFR 4.25)
Counties of Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Alameda, San Benito, Solano, San Luis Obispo, Contra Costa, Monterey or Marin Any written representation (e.g., labels, advertising, company letterhead, etc.) that a wine is produced entirely from grapes grown in these counties must be true. (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 25237)
“California Central Coast Counties Dry Wine” This designation can only appear on a label if all of the grapes are from the counties of Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Alameda, San Benito, Solano San Luis Obispo, Contra Costa, Monterey or Marin. (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 25236)

Related Labeling Considerations

The appellation rules noted above are intertwined with other federal labeling regulations, which may also come into play. For example, if a label includes a varietal and an appellation, 75% of the grapes used in the wine must be of the stated grape type and all of those grapes must come from the stated appellation. (27 CFR 4.23)  If the label includes a vintage year and an appellation, 85% of the grapes in the wine must be from the stated vintage year – and if the appellation is an AVA, the percentage requirement rises to 95%. (27 CFR 4.27)

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2014 · All Rights Reserved ·

TTB Considers New Grape Varieties for American Wines

February 10th, 2011

 Only a grape variety name approved by the TTB may be used as a varietal “type” designation for American wine.   The TTB is considering adding more than 50 names to their list of approved varietals to catch up with the explosion of U.S. wines made from obscure grape varietals.  The full list of varietals up for public comments is here.

Some of the proposed varietals are not so obscure (e.g. Blaufränkisch, Carignan, Garnacha, Grenache blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Lagrein, Vermentino), but others are extremely unusual, particularly the submissions from the Minnesota Grape Growers (Louise Swenson, Sabrevois, St. Pepin), which highlighted the cold-weather resiliency of the grapes

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2010-2011 · All Rights Reserved ·

Extended Comment Period on TTB Notice 109: Use of Winemaking Terms

January 14th, 2011

The deadline has been extended for comments on the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau’s (“TTB”) proposed amendment to regulations regarding common winemaking terms used on wine labels and advertisements.  Written comments are now due by March 4, 2011.  The TTB set out their proposed new regulations in Notice 109, “Use of Various Winemaking Terms on Wine Labels and in Advertisements”, published November 3, 2010 in the Federal Register.  The comment period was extended at the request of Napa Valley Vintners (“NVV”).  NVV has formed a subcommittee to research and survey members on the proposed new regulations. 

There are four main proposals set forth by the TTB in Notice 109.  First, the TTB proposes requiring the use of the terms “estate grown,” “estate,” and “estates” to meet the higher threshold definition it currently ascribes to “estate bottled.”  Second, the TTB proposes codifying its policy of only allowing the terms “proprietor grown” and “vintner grown” if 100% of the grapes used in a wine are grown on vineyards owned or controlled by the bottling winery.  Third, the TTB proposes to codify its current position that “single vineyard” may only be used when 100% of the grapes used in the wine come from one vineyard.  Further, it would extend that reasoning to the terms “single orchard,” “single farm,” and “single ranch.”  Fourth, the TTB is considering codifying definitions for the following terms: “Proprietors Blend,” “Old Vine,” “Barrel Fermented,” “Old Clone,” “Reserve,” “Select Harvest,” “Bottle Aged,” and “Barrel Select.”  The TTB made the proposals in an effort to ensure that consumers are not misled by wine labels and advertising.  Should these changes occur the TTB could revoke its approval of previously approved labels.

The Federal Alcohol Administration Act (“FAA Act”) sets forth the regulations for alcohol labeling and advertisements, including wine.  The TTB is responsible for the administration of the FAA Act and the promulgation of regulations thereunder.  The specific wine labeling and advertising regulations can be found in Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2010-2011 · All Rights Reserved ·