December 21, 2011
There were a number of new viticultural areas, commonly referred to as AVAs, approved by the TTB late this year, as well as an expansion of certain AVAs and several new proposed areas for which comments are due in early 2012. A summary on the latest activity is below. The TTB designates viticultural areas in order to allow vintners to more precisely describe the origins of their wines and so that consumers may make purchasing decisions with such specific origination information in mind.
Expanded Areas Effective December 16, 2011
Russian River Valley (California) – The Russian River Valley AVA, located in Sonoma County, California, was expanded by 14,044 acres.
Northern Sonoma (California) – The Northern Sonoma AVA, also located in Sonoma County, California, was expanded by 44,244 acres.
New Viticultural Areas Effective January 13, 2012
Coombsville (California) – The Coombsville AVA in Napa County, California covers 11,075 acres. The area is within the Napa Valley and North Coast viticultural areas. The Coombsville AVA is nearly identical to the previously proposed Tulocay AVA, which the TTB withdrew from consideration in June 2008.
Fort Ross-Seaview (California) – The Fort Ross-Seaview AVA in Sonoma County, California embodies 27,500 acres. The area is within the Sonoma Coast viticultural area, which in turn is within the North Coast viticultural area.
Naches Heights (Washington) – The Naches Heights AVA in Yakima County, Washington covers 13,254 acres. The Naches Heights AVA is within the Columbia Valley viticultural area located mainly in central and southern Washington, although a small portion of northern Oregon is also included within the Columbia Valley AVA.
New Proposed Viticultural Areas
Inwood Valley (California) – The TTB has proposed creating a 28,298-acre Inwood Valley AVA in Shasta County, California. Comments on the proposal must be received by February 3, 2012.
Middleburg Virginia (Virginia) – The TTB has proposed creating a 198-square mile Middleburg Virginia AVA located in the northern Virginia counties of Loudoun and Fauquier. Comments on the proposal must be received by January 9, 2012.
August 17, 2010
We’re closely watching an application to designate a swath of Sonoma County as the “Pine Mountain/Mayacmas” AVA. You can track the status of the petition yourself here: http://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine-rulemaking.shtml. Comments on the petition are due September 9, 2010.
AVA designation is a labor-intensive and expensive process, but can result in significant cache for vineyards meeting the designation. We always find the process interesting. Sometimes there are issues about the actual space; e.g. is the climate unique? Is the area easily geographically defined? If those issues can be resolved, the real issues center around the chosen name; e.g. is the name tied to the place? Does the name conflict with existing trademarks? Will the name cause consumer confusion?
Real fireworks start if the proposed AVA is within Napa Valley, which triggers California Business & Professions Code 25241 as well as the involvement of the Napa Valley Vintners Association. In the past years, the Calistoga and Tulocay AVA petitions were quite controversial, and thus extremely interesting to watch.
Information on the interplay of B&P 25241 and the Tulocay AVA application can be found here: www.ttb.gov/nprm_comments/ttbnotice68/0680023.pdf.
Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
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