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Last year, On Reserve posted an article about the suit brought by Koch against Christie’s in a New York federal district court. New York District Court Judge, Honorable Barbara Jones, granted the motion to dismiss of the auction house Christie’s and dismissed the suit against the acclaimed auction house. In that suit, William Koch, billionaire and avid wine collector, filed suit against the auction house last year claiming Christie’s “induced” him to buy a fraudulent bottle of 1870 Lafite wine at an auction for $4,200. (See Christie’s Wines Dismissal of Koch’s Counterfeit Wine Suit.) In his complaint, Koch claimed fraud, civil conspiracy, and aiding and abetting — alleging that the London-based auction house has sold counterfeit wine “for many years.” (Id.) Judge Jones, in her ruling, reasoned that while Koch alleged he was injured due to misrepresentation made on behalf of the auction house, Koch placed bids on the wine while he knew it was fake, and could thus not recover for his injury. (See Judge Dismisses Koch Suit Against Christie’s.)

This year, Koch appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On appeal, Koch argued—among other points—that the District Court erred in its application of the legal standard of doctrine of inquiry notice. The doctrine of inquiry notice allows a court—in some circumstances—to impute knowledge on a plaintiff of facts that are sufficient to allow the statute of limitations to run in situations where a plaintiff could have discovered the facts by a reasonably diligent search or examination. His argument was also rejected by the Second Circuit, but this time for matters relating to the statute of limitation. On October 4, 2012, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed the case brought by Koch on the grounds that the statute of limitations expired. (See Koch Brother Loses Suit Due to Statute of Limitations.) The Court of Appeals reasoned that, while Koch bought a bottle of wine from an auction at Christie’s in the 1980s that allegedly belonged to Thomas Jefferson, the statute of limitations had run, as Koch did not file suit against Christie’s until 2011. Despite numerous instances that allowed Koch question the authenticity of the wine, the suit against Christie’s was not filed until 2011. (In the 1990s, Koch reach several articles questioning the authenticity of Jefferson wine and hired attorneys to investigate claims after a lawsuit had been brought against the individual who discovered the alleged Jefferson wine; in addition, in 2010, Koch hired Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to perform radiocarbon analysis on the wine, results of which indicated there was less than 4.6% probability that the wine was from the time period alleged. Koch later sued the discoverer of the wine in 2006 and received a default jdugment, but Koch did not proceed to file suit against Christie’s until 2011.)

For an interesting and wine-related read, see Judge John G. Koeltl’s opinion here

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Recently, Napa Valley Vintners Association (“NVVA”) announced that Brazil has formerly recognized that Napa Valley is of Geographical Indication (“GI”) status. Brazil will now protect Napa Valley from misuse of the wine region’s name within Brazil’s borders. (See Napa Valley Vintners Announce GI Status Approval in Brazil.)

The news was announced at this year’s International Wine Law Association conference in Bento Goncalves, Brazil. Brazil is a new world wine region, but the country is among one of the top wine producers worldwide. Currently, Brazil ranks as the thirteenth greatest wine producing country, ranking higher than New Zealand and Greece. Currently, the Napa Valley GI is recognized in areas including the EU, Thailand, India, and Canada. (See Napa Deal Bolsters US and Brazilian Ties.)

The new agreement extends from an agreement between the United Stated and Brazil from earlier this year. In the previous agreement, the United States agreed to recognize cachaça as an exclusive product of Brazil while Brazil agreed to restrict the use of the name bourbon and Tennessee whiskey to whiskeys distilled only in Kentucky and Tennessee. (Under previous regulations, the United States required cachaça to be labeled, “Brazilian rum,” without any  restrictions on the use of cachaça  on products from other countries or even within the United States.)  (See, e.g.Brazil, U.S. Move to Boost Cachaca, Tennessee Whiskey, Trade.) The prior agreement between the two countries received favorable responses from many, specifically noting that “[t]his exchange of letters represents a very positive development for both of our industries, and reflects our Governments’ commitment to stronger bilateral trade ties.” (Id. quoting U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.)

The recognition of Napa Valley’s geographical significance throughout the world helps promote the brand identity of the wine region, and will continue to enforce the region’s significance as additional countries recognize Napa. The recent developments between the two world wine regions maintains the importance of geographical significance and identification between different wine regions and enforces the idea that geographical identity is of continuing significance.

For more information on wine or alcohol law, labeling, or geographical indications, 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.

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In May 2012, Kansas approved a law that dramatically changed the regulation of its wine industry. The new state law, which spawned from House Bill 2689, reduces the requirement of the amount of Kansas grapes that must be in a Kansas wine. The bill amends K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 41-308a. Under the amended state law, Kansas wineries now must use at least 30% Kansas-grown wine products. The new law cuts the requirement from 60% to 30%. No matter how one analyzes this law, this requirement is a significant change to Kansas legislation. While “[t]he provision doesn’t apply to individual bottles, but rather a winery’s overall products—for example, a winery that produced one type of wine with 100 percent Kansas grapes and two types with none should fit the bill.” (See New Law Changes Requirements for Kansas Wine.) This means wine producers in Kansas can legally bottle wine containing less than thirty percent of Kansas, as long as the percentage of Kansas wine from the winery’s overall products meet the Kansas legislative mandate.

There are arguments on each side for the introduction and the implementation of a law like this—those in favor of such legislation argue this new law supports a free market and will promote the Kansas wine industry whereas those opposed to the law argue the relaxed requirement could harm the identity of the Kansas wine industry. (See, e.g., Kansas Wineries Concerned About New State Law; Mulvane Winemaker Sees Opportunity for Industry Growth in New Law.) Irrespective of these different perspectives, the Kansas law itself is worthy of attention and discussion. The amended law, along with the removed provisions, now reads:

Not less than 60% 30% of the products utilized in the manufacture of domestic table wine and domestic fortified wine by a farm winery shall be grown in Kansas except when a lesser proportion is authorized by the director based upon the director’s findings and judgment. The label of domestic wine and domestic fortified wine shall indicate that a majority of the products utilized in the manufacture of the wine at such winery were grown in Kansas. The production requirement of this subsection shall be determined based on the annual production of domestic table wine and domestic fortified wine by the farm winery. 

Read in conjunction with federal law, this may appear—at first glance—inconsistent with federal law. Wine labels in the United States are governed partially by Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically by Part 4. (See 27 C.F.R. Part 4.) Section 4.25 of Title 27 defines an appellation of origin for American wines. Namely, § 4.25(a)(1) allows a state to be an American wine’s appellation of origin if “[a]t least 75 percent of the wine is derived from fruit or agricultural products grown in the appellation area indicated,” as per § 4.25(b)(1). However, the new Kansas law does not avoid the federal legislation. It is possible, under this new law, to be a winery in Kansas, produce wine containing 30% Kansas grapes, and not violate the federal legislation. The federal law requires 75% of the grapes to be grown in the state of Kansas if the appellation of the wine is Kansas (e.g., “Kansas wine”), but it is not mandatory that a wine have an appellation. But irregardless of whether a Kansas winery can legally comply with the federal law while using 30% (or less) of Kansas grapes in its wine, a more proper question to ponder is this: should this rather liberal regulation of Kansas wineries be allowed? 

 

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The Wall Street Journal law blog recently published an interesting article titled, EU Court: Don’t Call Wine “Easily Digestible,” discussing a court case decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”). At issue was whether the German winemakers’ cooperative, Deutsches Weintor, can label its wines with a claim that the wine is “easily digestible.” Accordingly, the CJEU ruled that the German wine cooperative cannot label its wines with a claim that wine is “easily digestible.” While the CJEU recognized an increasing number of foods and beverages labeled with nutrition and health claims, it further contended that at risk is the protection of consumers and the assurance that products in the market are safe and adequately labeled. The CJEU indicated that health claims for alcohol beverages are dangerous and thus concluded that producers of alcohol beverages cannot make any claims relating to such, even if true.

In its ruling, the court interpreted Article 2(2)(5) and the first subparagraph of Article 4(3) of Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. (See OJ 2006 L 404.) Article 2(2)(5) defines a health claim to mean “any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health.” (Id.) Article 4(3) maintains that beverages containing more than 1.2% alcohol by volume shall not bear health claims (as defined in Article 2(2)(5)). (Id.)

In this case, the CJEU construed the term “easily digestible” to be a health claim within the meaning of Article 2(2)(5) of Regulation No. 1924/2006. The German winegrowers argued that the term is not a health claim but is instead a claim of general well-being and that the Regulation does not apply to descriptions that are traditionally used on foods and beverages to imply an affect on well-being. Accordingly, the winegrowers had reduced the amount of acidity of the wines in question by means of a special process of acidity reduction. The CJEU, however, found that even if the phrase could be regarded as “substantively inherently correct in that it indicates the acidity levels, the fact remains that it is incomplete.” (See Case C-544/10.) The court maintained that the phrase “easily digestible” emphasizes “a certain quality that facilitates digestion, but is silent as to the fact that, regardless of a sound digestion, the dangers inherent in the consumption of alcohol[] beverages are not in any way removed, or even limited.” (See Case C-544/10.) Essentially, the court believed that the phrase “easily digestible,” while truthful, highlights only the digestive nature of the product without affording attention to other potentially detrimental aspects of alcohol consumption (in particular quantities and frequencies). The court concluded that, without further reference, prohibiting such claims on alcohol labels is warranted when balanced against the inherent need to protect consumer health and to encourage safe and adequate labeling of alcohol beverages.

During my read of the article and the ruling, I was intrinsically compelled to compare this regulation to those I’ve encountered in my studies of American wine law. Labeling of wine is governed by 27 CFR Part 4, and health statements are specifically governed by Section 4.39(h) et seq. The CFR defines a health-related statement—in shortened form—as “any statement related to health . . . and includes statements of a curative or therapeutic nature that, expressly or by implication, suggest a relationship between the consumption of alcohol, wine, or any substance found within the wine, and health benefits or effects on health.” (See 24 CFR § 4.39(h).) Generally, health-related statements that are untrue or “tend[] to create a misleading impression as to the effects on health of alcohol consumption” are not allowed on labels. The TTB may approve of some specific health claims on the labels of a wine, but the TTB also requires that the claim be truthful and properly supported by scientific or medical evidence. While this bar is generally high to meet, it presumably offers somewhat more flexibility than the standards held out by the recent European ruling. (As mentioned, the CJEU would not allow truthful labels on alcohol beverages if the statement tended to have any health claim.) In practice, however, this most likely proves otherwise; the TTB does regulate wine labels and health-related claims placed on such to a very high degree. In fact, it is unlikely the TTB would approve a wine label containing the same phrase as the German winemakers—“easily digestive”—for the same or similar reasons.

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The TTB recently posted some very helpful guidelines pertaining to approved wine labels and changing approved wine labels without obtaining additional approval from the TTB. For a wine to be sold legally in the United States, the label must be pre-approved by the TTB through a process called Certificate of Label Approval (“COLA”). Generally speaking, every bottle of wine is required to have a COLA under 27 C.F.R. 4.50. Obtaining a COLA from the TTB requires a wine producer to submit the label of the wine to the TTB, which will either approve or deny the label according to its regulations. Once a COLA is obtained, the holder of the certificate can bottle and remove or import the wine that bears the label shown on the COLA.

While every wine produced by a winery or producer must have its own COLA, there are certain changes to a wine label that can be made without re-applying for another COLA. Because the COLA application process can often be time consuming, it is important for a producer of wine (or even an attorney practicing in the field) to know and understand the specific types of changes that are allowed for a previously approved wine label. The TTB recently posted some informative guidelines that specifically outline permissible changes to wine labels that do not require a new COLA. The summarized version, Allowable Changes to Approved Labels, includes examples of allowable changes specific to the provided sample wine labels and a complete list of allowable revisions to approved labels. A more detailed guideline is viewable at Updated Certificate of Label Approval Application Form Expands List of Allowable Changes (dated July 12, 2012) or, in chart form, Complete List of Allowable Revisions To Approved Labels. (The chart also contains the allowable changes on approved labels for malt beverages and distilled spirits.)

The TTB specifically notes that, once a label has been approved, changes must comply with 27 CFR parts 4,  57 and 16, and “any other applicable provision of law or regulation, including, but not limited to, the conditions described in the “Comments” section of the chart below.” (See Complete List of Allowable Revisions To Approved Labels.)

For more information on wine or alcohol law, labeling, or advertising, 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.

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Summer Updates in the Wine Law Field

As summer passes by, there are several noteworthy updates with respect to wine law. These updates cover upcoming and prior events, relating mostly to the academic side of wine and its intersection with the law. It is wonderful to see the variety of events and the opportunities to learn and interact with others interested in wine and law. If there are any events, past or present, that I missed, please contact me.

The third annual Wine and Law Program at the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne met early in July with its third class of students from around the world. This year’s lecturers were Tracy Genesen of Kirkland Ellis, Steve Charters of the Reims Management School, Barton Seldon of Gartenberg, Gelfand, Hayton, & Seldon LLP, and Director Theodore Georgopoulos. Trips included visits to the caves at Moët & Chandon and Veuve Cliquot-Ponsardin, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (“CIVC”), and a cooperative in the Cote de Blanc town Vertus. You can read more about this year’s program at the blog Wine with Kat & Friends, featuring a recollection of her experience at the Wine and Law Program week one and week two. Reading her entries reminds me of my own experience at the Wine and Law Program last summer, and I very much hope to return to Reims one day in the future.

This next update is one I received many inquiries about in the past, and it is a pleasure to present additional information on a conference dedicated exclusively to the wine, beer, and spirits industries. The Seventeenth Annual Wine, Beer & Spirits Law Conference will take place this fall at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas. The conference, which will be held September 20-21, 2012, includes discussions on alcohol beverage regulations and transactional details. This year’s conference features speakers from many backgrounds, including the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”), the Wine Institute, and many law firms throughout the states. For more information or to register, visit Seventeenth Annual Wine, Beer & Spirits Law Conference

Finally, the Reims Wine and Law Program recently started collecting papers for its new international seminar called Wine Law in Context. The objective is to bring together scholars in the wine and spirits law field, as well as wine economics, sociology, ethnology, or political science. While the date for submitting a CV and paper description passed, the Wine and Law Program has many strong ideas for bringing together scholars in the wind and law field on an international level. It will be exciting to see the measures the Program takes in the future.

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The Wine Law Pathway Post-Law School Graduation

I so rarely write personal updates for On Reserve, but in light of recent developments, I am eager to share my current accomplishments and future pathway with all of you.

I often receive e-mails from other students asking me for advice with respect to following a career in wine and law. As recurrent as these e-mails are, I find myself puzzled in response, as I never feel I have an appropriate answer. (I was, after all, a student myself up until last Friday.) I stumbled upon this pathway by mere chance—and by virtue of a lot of fate. Whereas I may not be in the position to disseminate advice, I can say one thing about my personal experience with wine and the law: for me, the wine law path is recurring.

The true beginning for me occurred unexpectedly, in a restaurant management class instructed by Professor Alex Susskind, during my very last semester at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. The discovery was as much unanticipated as it was appreciated and propitious. Professor Susskind assigned an article for class one day, ‘Bolt From the Blue’ on a Tuscan Red, about the alleged production of Brunello di Montalcino with foreign, unapproved varietals by various Brunello producers in Italy, which violated the DOCG regulations that mandate Brunello to be produced from only Sangiovese grapes. The article significantly captured my interest immediately. I knew I was attending law school the following fall and, while I contemplated pursuing a legal career favorable to the hospitality industry, the idea of wine intersecting with the law fascinated me. At that point in time, however, I was not certain how I could incorporate this immediate interest into my law school pathway.

A few months later, I found myself directly across the table at dinner with someone who remains my biggest inspiration—and my strongest advocate. He casually mentioned (without knowing my interest) he was editing an article for his own law journal that mused about an intellectual property issue in the context of wine. This was, unquestionably, another serendipitous token for me. After he sent me a copy of the article—and after I scrutinized every footnote for supplemental reading on wine law—I began to discern that wine law could be my intended pathway, and not simply a fleeting topic of interest featured in The New York Times. But, since I was only at the beginning of my first year of law school, there was very little I could do outside outlining and briefing cases.

I started On Reserve almost two years ago, during the summer after I finished my 1L year of law school. On the brink of writing a Note for my journal—and incredibly interested in the topic of wine law—I thought there to be no better way to showcase and organize my research than with a blog. At the time, an online forum for individuals with a professional or academic interest in wine and law did not exist, but I never anticipated the continued readership and interaction I have thanks to On Reserve. I thought I was one of few interested in wine and the law, but I (gratefully) turned out to be misguided. In fact, it seemed a venue  incorporating wine and the law was long overdue in the wine community. (The Note won the 2010-2011 Trandafir International Business Law Competition and is scheduled to be published this summer.)

Over the course of the last two years, I’ve had the pleasure of expanding not only my knowledge in the area of wine and law, but also my contacts. I traveled through various wine regions—including Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Champagne, and the Douro Valley—to expand my wine vocabulary and learn about the various legislative measures pursued by each region. I spent a good portion of last summer in the Champagne region of France at the Wine & Law Program of the Unversité de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, studying under some of the most respected scholars in the area of wine law, where I received a university diploma in transnational wine trade law. Upon my return, I worked with Lot18 on some legal and regulatory compliance matters in the context of direct shipment in the States. Center for Wine Origins invited me on a trip to Portugal last fall, where I learned more about the legal measures of the Douro wine region implemented to protect the region’s wine products in an international market.

Much, if not all, of these opportunities spawned from the creation and continual dedication to On Reserve. With complete probity, I never imagined, when I started this blog, that I would one day proclaim wine law to be the actual direction of my career. In fact, during some points in time, following this rather unique interest seemed implausible if not impossible. Fortunately, the rather ambitious decision to pursue a niche area of law came to fruition this last year. I am honored to say that I will begin my career as an associate attorney at an alcohol beverage law firm in the Washington, D.C. area this August.

As for what is to come, I once again find myself dumbfounded in response. I think the appropriate answer amounts to this: a lot is in store. Upon many years of practice, I hope to teach a course in wine and the law one day, and I certainly hope to publish more. However fortuitous the idea of wine and law may have been for me years ago, it is indeed my conscious pathway today.

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Indian Wine and Wine Legislation: A Future Development?

A few months ago, I came across an article posted by the Indian Wine Academy that I thought to be particularly interesting. The article, The Growing Need for Wine Laws in India, attracted me because I so rarely come across research on India and wine law. In fact, I can say quite candidly that I’ve never even tasted Indian wine before. Setting aside any cultural orders or norms that may restrict or downright prohibit consumption of wine within India, I am still unfamiliar with any wine products exported from the country. (I am an advocate of trying different wines when I am out to eat or when I peruse the aisle of my local wine store. While I’ve had the pleasure of tasting some unique wines in the last few years, including a Tunisian bottle that just made my list of favorites and an Ethiopian bouquet of honey wine, I do not believe I am yet to taste wine from India.) While the article reposted by the Indian Wine Academy discusses the relative definition of wine laws and the functions of said laws from both a domestic and international perspective, the article itself does not actually advocate why India needs wine laws. Although the author suggests a list of considerations Indian legislators should be mindful of when implementing wine regulations, the article itself does not directly detail the caveats of the current lack of Indian legislation for wine. At the time of my reading the article, I could only surmise that the connection between espousing wine regulation in India and the international market was to promote the growth of Indian wines through transnational wine trade.

Since my initial reading of the above article, much developed with respect to the global trade of Indian wines. For example, an article titled India Struggles to Develop Taste for Wine details the limited interest in wine that seems to be prevalent throughout the country. Just recently, The Times of India announced that the Indian Grape Processing Board (“IGPB”) plans to implement legislation to regulate winemaking and, in turn, the internal standards of the Indian wine industry. (See Legislation Planned to Make Indian Wine World-Class.) The Times of India reports that, “[t]here will be laws regarding the manufacture of wine, quality, brand and marketing. All wine-related practices-manufacturing, agricultural, critical point analysis, food safety norms-will come under the legislation.” (Id.) Representatives from the IGPB indicate that these regulations will, in time, allow the international market to recognize Indian wines, as well as improve the quality of Indian wine products. (See id.) Currently, in India, “any name can be given to wine made from table grapes or wine variety grapes.” (Id.) After new legislation is implemented, the IGPB reports that a grapegrower in one region will not be allowed to label his wine as that from a different region that is geographically recognized under the legislation. To some extent, early talks seem to indicate that India will create a system that is similar to the appellation of origin system widely discussed and used as a model by many global wine producers.

While India can be expected to develop legislation with respect to its wine production and grape growing over the next few years, critics seem hopeful that there is room for India to capture a respectable slice in the international wine trade market, in addition to a development of an internal wine cultural. See Wine and the India EU Free Trade Agreement and Revisiting the Indian Wine Market. The course of the development of wine laws and regulations in India will be a topic for future consideration on this blog.

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What is the proposal for establishing the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA?

On May 8, 2012, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) announced a proposal for establishing an American Viticultural Area (“AVA”) for the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley in Douglas, Grant, and Kittitas Counties in central Washington. The notice states that TTB:

proposes to establish the 162,762-acre “Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley” viticultural area in Douglas, Grant, and Kittitas Counties in central Washington. The proposed viticultural area lies within the larger Columbia Valley viticultural area [27 CFR 9.74]. TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines they may purchase. (27 CFR Part 9 Notice No. 128 Proposed Establishment of the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley Viticultural Area.)

The proposal indicates that the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley is distinguishable from the Columbia Valley AVA because of the topography, soils, climate, and geography of the propose viticultural area. (See TTB Newsletter for May 11, 2012.) Accordingly, the proposed AVA is located within a “distinctive landform” that is known locally as the Quincy Basin, which has “elevations lower than the surrounding area and slopes gently to the east.” (Federal Registrer: Proposed Establishment of the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley Viticultural Area.) It is noted that the floor of the basin is flatter than the surrounding region. (See id.) Additionally, according to the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service, the proposed AVA has 65 soil types and the petition itself compares the soil of the proposed AVA with the soil of the current Columbia Valley AVA. (See id.) “The tables show significant contrasts in soils within and outside of the proposed Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley viticultural area.” (Id.)

According to the Federal Register,  Joan R. Davenport, a professor of soil sciences at Washington State University, and Cameron Fries of White Heron Cellars, sent TTB a petition on behalf of vintners and grape growers in the Ancient Lakes region of central Washington promoting the establishment the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley viticultural area. (See Federal Registrer: Proposed Establishment of the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley Viticultural Area.) In addition,

[t]he proposed viticultural area contains 162,762 acres, 1,399 acres of which are dedicated to commercially-producing vineyards. The petition states that there are six wineries and six commercially-producing vineyards located within the proposed viticultural area. The petition also includes a map showing that the vineyards and wineries are dispersed throughout the proposed viticultural area. According to the petition, the distinguishing features of the proposed viticultural area include its topography, soils, climate, and geology. Unless otherwise noted, all information and data contained in the below sections concerning the name, boundary, and distinguishing features of the proposed viticultural area are from the petition for the proposed Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley viticultural area and its supporting exhibits. (Id.)

What are the main differences between the Columbia Valley AVA and the proposed Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA?

The Federal Register notes that petition’s information indicates that the proposed Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley viticultural area “generally has a climate that fits within the climate range of the larger Columbia Valley viticultural area as described in T.D. ATF-190, with low annual precipitation, a growing season of 180 days, and 2,570 GDD units.” (Id.) The TTB, however, highlights that while similarities do exist between Columbia Valley and the Ancient Lakes area, such similarities juxtapose with the more disparate topography, soils, and climate of what is currently an expansive area. (Id.) While the Columbia Valley viticultural area and the proposed Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley viticultural area are both basins, it is notable that Columbia Valley is “is marked by three major rivers, whereas the water features of the proposed Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley viticultural area include many small lakes and two manmade irrigation canals” and the only major river in the proposed Ancient Lakes area is the Columbia River. (Id.) Additionally, it is considerable the petition indicates that, while certain soil contents are found within the proposed viticultural area, such soils are not found in the same frequency as those in the current, established viticultural area. (Id.)

What is the notice and comment process for this proposal?

The TTB welcomes comments on this proposal until July 9, 2012. For more information about how to submit a comment, see 27 CFR Part 9 Notice No. 128 Proposed Establishment of the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley Viticultural Area and to view comments associated with this rulemaking, see Docket Folder Summary: Proposed Establishment of the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley Viticultural Area. As of this writing, there is currently one comment with respect to this proposal.

What is an American Viticultural Area (“AVA”)?

Section 4.25(e)(1)(i) of the Code of Federal Regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(1)(i)) defines a viticultural area for American wine as “[a] delimited grape-growing region having distinguishing features as described in part 9 of this chapter and a name and a delineated boundary as established in part 9 of this chapter.” These classifications permit vintners and consumers to “attribute a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of a wine made from grapes grown in an area to its geographic origin.” (Federal Registrer: Proposed Establishment of the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley Viticultural Area.) Structuring, classifying, and establishing viticultural areas within the United States allows winegrowers to more accurately describe the origin of their wine products and to additionally aid consumers in the identification of wines. It is widely believed, and argued by many, that the area in which wine grapes are grown can greatly characterize the wine in terms of style, taste, and overall product reputation.

Photographs are property of Lindsey A. Zahn.

For more information on wine or alcohol law, TTB, AVAs, or federal law, 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.

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Quinta Nova, Ferrão. — in Oporto, Porto, Portugal.

TTB recently announced, in final rule T.D. TTB-103, it is amending labeling regulations to require the listing of cochineal extract and carmine on the label of any alcohol beverage that contains one or both of the color additives. According to the final rule, “[t]his rule responds to a final rule issued by the Food and Drug Administration. Consumers who are allergic to cochineal extract or carmine will now be able to identify and thus avoid alcohol beverage products that contain these color additives.” (See T.D. TTB-103.) TTB indicates this requirement will apply to “products that are removed from domestic bonded premises or from customs custody on or after April 16, 2013; however, voluntary compliance with this final rule, including making any required labeling changes, may begin immediately.” For information on the effective date and the history of this change, see id. For more information on the final rule issued by the FDA, from which this change stems, refer to Listing of Color Additives Exempt From Certification: Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Labeling: Cochineal Extract and Carmine Declaration.

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