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- Labeling regional wine is highly regulated by not consistent internationally
Wed, Mar 21, 2012 10:22 AM
AVA stands for American Viticultural Area and designates wine
grape growing areas in the US, similar to regulations in other
parts of the world such as French appellations of origin (AOC) or
the Italian IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), DOC (Denominazione
di Origine Controllata) or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e
However unlike the European regulations, the AVA only specifies a
geographical location in which at least 85% of the grapes used in a
wine must be grown. European DOC regulations are much more defined
and cover traditional winemaking practices and grapes used for
specific wines, which generally are named after the specific area
the wines come from. Barolo, Brunello, Champagne, Rioja, Burgundy,
Chianti are all examples of specific regions, where winemakers have
to adhere to very strict regulations to put the terms on the label
of their wines.
In the US, AVA's do not limit the types of grapes grown, nor the
winemaking process or the crop yields per acre, as is the case in
Europe. The only specification relates to geographical
While there is wine grown in every state of the nation, only few
states have AVA's, including California, Oregon, Washington, New
York, Virginia, Texas, and Michigan. There is a number of smaller
Ava's from Arkansas to Wisconsin, but there is none yet for
However there are very strong regulations on how wines are labeled.
Both on a state level and federal level, very clear regulations
exist, says Ken Albert, owner of Shelburne Vineyard.
Per the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) wines with 75% or more
Vermont fruit can be labeled "Vermont" or "Vermont Grown". These
wines also have the phrase "Produced and Bottled by (name of
winery) and (address of winery).
There is no Vermont winery that is violating these
The state of Vermont says that if a product is made in Vermont it
can be considered a Vermont "product", but it cannot be labeled
So when buying local Vermont wine, pay attention to what it says on
the label: If the label on the bottle does not say "Vermont" or
"Vermont grown", the wine is made from fruit grown somewhere else.
The same is true with wines from any other geographical
location. You can buy a wine "produced and bottled in a Napa
Valley town", but if it does not have the AVA "Napa" listed on the
label, it is not from Napa grapes, and the taste may not be what
In the case of Shelburne Vineyard (and most other VT wineries),
they adhere strictly to these rules. When the label does not say
Vermont, it is wine made entirely at the winery, but from grapes
bought from growers somewhere else. Shelburne Vineyard buys from
quality growers on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New
York State; the farthest they go for grapes is NY State.