First, a note to our readers…
Like everyone, we’ve had our hands full with the pandemic and have been helping our clients work through its impact on our industry, so we haven’t had much time to write blog posts this year. We intend to resume posting with more regularity going forward, and below is our first post in a while, which is refreshingly not about COVID-19.
MENDOCINO COUNTY EARNS LONG-AWAITED CONJUNCTIVE WINE LABEL
Mendocino County is one of the largest wine-producing counties in California. From pinot noir to zinfandel, the region is known for its grape growing - particularly red varietals. However, it does not enjoy the same labeling protections as Sonoma County or Napa Valley, both of which require producers in American Viticultural Areas (“AVAs”) located within their borders to designate the greater region on their producers’ wine labels. (For an explanation of California appellations and wine labels, please see our previous post.) The practice of requiring wine labels to include both the region and sub-region of origin is coined “conjunctive labeling.” Conjunctive labeling is intended to boost consumer exposure to wines produced within a larger geographic region, in addition to the sub-region or AVA in which they were produced. Proponents believe that such uniform marketing translates to increased sales within the region as a whole. Conjunctive labeling can be particularly valuable to lesser known AVAs that lie within a region that contains other well-known AVAs.
Mendocino WineGrowers, Inc. (“MWI”), Mendocino County’s alliance of grape growers, thinks that Mendocino County deserves its own distinct conjunctive labeling law, and thanks to the enactment of SB 1009, MWI’s efforts have paid off. As of January 1, 2023, the words “Mendocino” or “Mendocino County” must appear on the front or back label of wines produced within AVAs located entirely within Mendocino County or that use a vineyard designation within Mendocino County. For containers 188 ml or larger, the “Mendocino” or “Mendocino County” designation must be in at least 2 mm font, and for containers 187 ml or less, the font cannot be smaller than 1 mm.
Mendocino County now joins “Lodi,” “Monterey County,” “Napa Valley,” “Paso Robles,” and “Sonoma County,” which mandate their producers to comply with conjunctive labeling laws. See Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 25240, 25244, 25245, 25246 and 25247.
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