TTB announced last week that it administratively approved two new grape varieties for use on American wine labels. The new grape varieties, Mustang and Riverbank, can be used on American wine labels contingent upon TTB’s next rulemaking to update the list of approved varieties in the CFR (i.e., at 27 CFR 4.91). TTB currently has a list of many grape varieties that have been administratively approved for use on American wine labels, which can be found on its American Grape Variety Names website.
According to Wikipedia, Mustang (or vitis mustangensis) is a grape variety that is native to the southern United States (including Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma) and was reportedly used in mustang wines prior to the Civil War. The Riverbank grape variety (or vitis riparia Michx or front grape) is also native to the United States and commonly found in the the central and northeastern portions of the country and is used in viticulture as grafted rootstock and in hybrid grape breeding programs.
When a petition to approve a new grape variety for use on American wine labels is submitted to and reviewed by TTB, the agency issues an administrative approval if the grape variety petition is approved. This means that TTB will approve American wine labels that use the grape variety name, but such label approvals are valid for labels used in the U.S. market (i.e., such approvals do not necessarily imply that the variety names are acceptable in other countries). After issuing an administrative approval, TTB will propose rulemaking by publishing a notice in the Federal Register to add the grape variety name to the list of approved grape varieties that appear in 27 CFR 4.91. Just like other proposed rules, this process invites the public to comment on whether the administratively approved grape variety should be recognized as an approved grape variety in 27 CFR 4.91. Public comment may or may not influence the agency to approve the variety. As of today, there are almost 50 grape varieties that were granted administrative approval for use on American wine labels, but have not yet been subject to notice and comment.
After completing the rulemaking process, should the Agency decide for any reason not to add the grape name to the approved list, any final rulemaking action will supersede its administrative approval. Essentially, this would affect the label approvals for a wine sporting an administratively approved grape variety.
For more information on wine or alcohol law, or submitting a varietal petition to TTB, please contact Lindsey Zahn.
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is for general information purposes only, is not intended to constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice.