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Several updates from the TTB recently developed with respect to the alcohol beverage industry. These updates are noted below.

New Certificate of Origin Requirement for Exporting U.S. Alcohol Beverage Products to Korea: The recent trade agreement between the United States and Korea, along with its provisions, are particularly relevant for wine and alcohol beverage producers exporting products to Korea. The Agreement went into effect on March 15, 2012. (Read more about the trade agreement at U.S.–Korea Trade AgreementNew Opportunity for U.S. Exporters Under the U.S.–Korea Trade Agreement.) The Agreement is important to the alcohol beverage industry in the United States because it proposes to reduce and eventually eliminate tariffs on the exportation of alcohol beverages. The TTB, however, notes that a specific new addition is included in the Agreement: a certificate of origin for all U.S. alcohol beverages exported to Korea. For more information, see the TTB’s copy of the Korean–U.S. FTA Certificate of Origin necessary to claim a reduced tariff  and the Import/Export Requirements for Korea.

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Announces Revisions to Certificate of Label Approval (“COLA”) Form: On March 30, 2012 the Department of Treasury published a notice in the Federal Registry for TTB Form 5100.31, Application for the COLA. This notice is succeeds a prior notice, 76 FR 81016, published by the TTB on December 27, 2011. The December notice sought comments from the public on changes the TTB advanced  with respect to the form, such as adding new types of changes that can be made to alcohol beverage labels without acquiring a new COLA for that beverage. “This [second] notice announces that the  Department of the Treasury has submitted the form to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and solicits comments on the form.” Comments for this Federal Register notice can be submitted to the TTB until April 30, 2012. To learn more about submitting a comment with respect to the March notice, see Revisions to TTB Label Approval Form

For more information on wine or alcohol law, TTB, labeling or COLAs, 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.


Additional Transnational Wine Trade Agreements

Montalcino, Italy.

Montalcino, Italy.

In the past, with respect to transnational wine trade agreements, many of On Reserve’s entries discuss the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (“TRIPS”), the Agreement Between the European Community and the United States of American on Trade in Wine, and the Agreement Between the European Community and Australia on Trade in Wine. It is noteworthy, however, to recognize that many other nations throughout the world have trade agreements with the European Union. Additional wine trade agreements with the European Union, or agreements encompassing wine trade, are summarized as follows:

  • Canada—Canada presently maintains a wine trade agreement with the European Union that is the product of three years of negotiations between the two powers. The Agreement, The Agreement Between the European Community and Canada on Trade in Wines and Spirit Drinks, contains provisions related to trademarks and geographical indications, production and quality standards for wines and spirits, and the role of independent audits and provincial authorities in Canada to ensure regulations are enforced properly. One of the major contentions in forming the updated trade agreement between Canada and the EU entailed recognizing certain wines and spirits as non-generic. Similar to the United States, Canada recognized many European wine and spirits as generic—such as Champagne, Port/Porto, Sherry,  Chablis, Burgundy, Sauterne, Grappa, Marc, and Ouzo—that the EU acknowledged as warranting heightened protection. The EU’s aim in this agreement was to induce heightened protection for some of the wines and spirits names that Canada categorized as generic and classify these names as geographical indications. The EU-Canada Agreement recognized three “phase out” stages for a number of wines and spirits Canada previously recognized as generic, including (but not limited to) Chablis, Champagne, Port/Porto, Sherry, Burgundy, Rhin/Rhine, Grappa, Ouzo, and Pacharan. In exchange for Canada’s recognition of European wines and spirits names, the EU agreed to protect Canadian Rye Whisky as a distinctive product from Canada.
  • Chile—In November 2002, Chile and the European Union entered an agreement titled the Agreement on Establishing Association Between the European Community and its Member States, Of the One Part, and the Republic of Chile, Of the Other Part. Section 6 of the Agreement, titled “Wines and Spirits,” refers to Annexes V and VI of the Agreement, which are formally known as the Agreement on Trade in Wine and the Agreement on Trade in Spirit Drinks and Aromatised Drinks. The entire EU-Chile Agreement contains provisions relating to geographical indications, but Annexes V and VI specifically regulate wine trade between the two parties. Annexes V and VI function “on the basis of non-discrimination and reciprocity, to facilitate and promote trade in wine produced in Chile and in the Community . . . .” (Agreement on Establishing Association Between the European Community and its Member States, Of the One Part, and the Republic of Chile, Of the Other Part, Annex 5.) The core of the EU-Chile Wine Trade Agreement defines geographical indications and traditional expressions and the terms and conditions for registering and using a trademark.
  • Mexico—In 1997, Mexico and the EU signed an Agreement titled the Agreement Between the European Community and the United Mexican States on the Mutual Recognition and Protection of Designations for Spirit Drinks. Under the EU-Mexico Agreement, both parties agreed to protect the denominations of origin of certain spirits products, such as Tequila, Mezcal, Whisky, Grappa, and Cognac. Article 4 of the Agreement reserved use of these geographical indications exclusively by their places of origin indicated by the designations. Article 4 extends to phrases that imply a product is similar to the original geographical indication, including “type,” “style,” “kind,” and “method,” but not produced in the area reserved to the designation of origin. Like many of its predecessors, the EU-Mexico Agreement contains provisions governing homonymous names, administrative measures and legal proceedings, and two annexes listing the protected geographical indications for wines and spirits in the EU and the appellations of origins for spirits in Mexico.
  • South Africa—In 2002, South African signed an agreement with the EU that warrants heightened protection for many geographical indications originating in the EU. The agreement, Agreement Between the European Community and the Republic of South Africa on Trade in Wine, is the product of many negotiations and struggles between the two wine powers; the EU, in its traditional fashion, sought heightened protection for a list of its wine names, including Port and Sherry. As is a continual pattern in many of the negotiations between the EU and other wine powers, obtaining this protection was a struggle with South Africa, whose global influence as a wine producer continually expands. However, the final EU-South Africa Agreement grants stronger protection to geographical indications and appellations of origins than regulations outlined in the TRIPS Agreement, as South African agreed to phase out the use of Port and Sherry on its wine products. Additional provisions under the EU-South Africa Agreement include recognizing oenological processes (including accepting future practices developed by either party). The two powers also signed an agreement regulating spirits in 2002, Agreement Between the European Community and the Republic of South Africa on Trade in Spirits, which requires increased protection for a list of geographical indications for spirits, including Grappa, Ouzo, and Pacharan, after a transitional period.
There are additional agreements between the EU and other bodies, including Switzerland and Croatia, which are available for review at European Commission: Bilateral Agreements.
Quinta Nova, Ferrão; Oporto, Porto, Portugal.

Quinta Nova, Ferrão; Oporto, Porto, Portugal.


For more information on wine or alcohol law, international trade, or distribution, 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 da Gaivosa (Domingos Alves de Sousa), Cumieira, Santa Marta de Penaguião

The 19th annual Vineyard Data Quantification Society Conference will take place from May 30, 2012 to June 2, 2012, in Coimbra and Viseu, Portugal. This meeting is organized by the Vineyard Data Quantification Society (“VDQS”). This year, we are pleased to host a special session with a special topic on Wine & Laws or Regulation, chaired by Dr. Théodore Georgopoulos, of the Université de Reims ChampagneArdenne. 


  1. Impacts of laws and rules (tax, customs, environment, etc.) on localization and the value of the vineyards, business characteristics (and transmission), production, wine marketing, advertising, consumption of wines and their consequences.
  2. Evolution of judicial practices in the wine sector
  3. Harmonization of legislation (European and world level) 
  4. Other topics include wine sustainability and sustainable development, marketing and management, evolution and institutions, and gastronomic studies. Research topics also include traditional topics, such as economics, marketing and management, wine industries in economics, quality & gastronomy, wine development, and wine and society.

More information is available at Vineyard Data Qualification Society and Le Temps Jusqu’au 13 Fevrier Pour Presenter Des Travaux Participants L’« ŒNOMETRIE » XIX.

Photograph property of Lindsey A. Zahn.


New EU Regulation for Organic Wine

The Standing Committee on Organic Farming (“SCOF”) agreed yesterday, February 8, 2012 to new EU rules governing the production of organic wines for the 2012 harvest season. (See New EU Regulation Agreed for 2012 Harvest of Organic Wine.) These rules will be published in the Official Journal in the upcoming weeks. This is the first time EU wine producers can use the term “organic wine” on wine labels, as the EU rules previously regulated “wine made from organic grapes,” but did not cover the entire production of organic wine due to alleged disagreements on the standard for producing organic wines. (See EU Agrees Organic Wine Standard.)

The new regulation will apply to the 2012 harvest of EU wines. The laws require labels to “show  the EU-organic-logo and the code number of their certifier, and must respect other wine labelling rules.” (See New EU Regulation Agreed for 2012 Harvest of Organic Wines.) The rules establish a subcategory of oenological practices and substances for organic wines as defined in the Wine Common Market Organisation (“CMO”) Regulation 606/2009. (Id.) Specifically, “[t]he new guidelines now specify certain production methods and auxiliary substances. Wine producers wishing to use the EU organic seal will, for instance, have to forego using sorbic acid completely, and will be able to use sulfites for preservation purposes only in smaller amounts than is the case for conventionally produced wine; the difference amounts to a minimum of 30 to 50 milligrammes, depending on the residual sugar content of the wine.” (See EU Commission Passes Organic Wine Guidelines.) In addition to these practices, organic wine must be produced from organic grapes as defined under Regulation 834/2007. (See New EU Regulation Agreed for 2012 Harvest of Organic Wines.)

It is believed that the introduction of the new EU regulations for organic wines will greatly improve the international market for organic wines from the EU. This is especially beneficial considering the significant amounts of organic wines from other countries (e.g., the United States, Australia, South Africa, and Chile) that are available in the international market. These countries already established benchmarks for the production of organic wines. From an internal level, these regulations mark the “completion” of EU organic farming, as all agricultural products are now covered under organic standards. (Id.) Finally, many believe the internal market of the EU will be strengthened through these regulations by increasing customer awareness and product transparency. 

For more information, see the official European Commission press release at New EU Rules for ‘Organic’ Wine Agreed.

Photographs are property of Lindsey A. Zahn.


The winter months in New York make me long for—and think about—warmer days. When I reflect about my past summer, I think a lot about my trip to Reims in the Champagne region of France last June through July, and the experiences I had at the 2011 Wine & Law Program at the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne. I met several colleagues with interesting and diverse experiences in the wine industry and I was fortunate to study under some of the most respected academics whose scholarship is credited throughout many areas of the wine industry. This program solidified my interest in wine and the law; the research I spent many months collaborating for my Note in law school, as well as the research for this blog, grew breath and meaning in a classroom with others who studied or were interested in similar topics. As my last semester in law school comes closer to an end each day, I remember my time in Reims quite fondly and I can only hope to return to the region one day for another academic venture.

This summer, the 2012 Wine & Law Program Summer School’s topic iComparative Aspects of European Union and United States Wine Law. The Program is from July 2, 2012 through July 13, 2012 at the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne and applications for the Program are currently being accepted. This is the third year for the Program, which is directed by Professor Theodore Georgopoulos, and features returning instructor and Master of Wine Mr. Steve Charters, as well as instructors Ms. Tracy Genesen of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Mr. Barton Selden of Gartenberg Gelfand Hayton & Selden LLP. (See Wine & Law Program Faculty.) Ms. Genesen’s legal experience in the wine industry ranges from serving as the litigation strategist for the famous United States case Granholm v. Heald to lecturing about “Wine and Law” at Stanford Law School. (See id.) Mr. Selden’s experiences focus strongly on trademarks and international business issues related to the wine industry, as well as financing and distribution issues related to the wine industry. (See id.) With such strong faculty on the roster, as well as an engaging topic in one of the most beautiful wine regions, I am sure the 2012 Wine & Law Program will be very successful.

Notre Dame de Reims; Reims, France.

Early registration is through April 30, 2012, although a second registration session may be available through June 14, 2012. (See Wine & Law Program Practical Information.) The Program lasts two full weeks in Reims and features classroom work every weekday from 9 AM to 4 PM with outside trips to the region after class hours. The trips last year included visiting local landmarks, vineyards, and maisons to learn about the history of the region and the process of producing Champagne, and to speak with individuals knowledgeable about the legal aspects of producing Champagne. We visited some of the larger Champagne houses (maisons) and their caves, including Ruinart and Moët & Chandon, as well as the Champagne cooperatives and smaller Champagne producers in Vertus. One evening we traveled to the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (“CIVC”), the trade organization that controls the production of Champagne within the region. Our graduation dinner was at Veuve Clicquot’s Manoir de Verzy, or the country house of Madame Veuve Clicquot, and the meal itself featured several courses paired with different champagnes bottled by the maison. Each trip fit very well with what we learned throughout the day in our classroom and provided all of us with a unique understanding of the region and the production of Champagne.

The university is located on the outskirts of the city of Reims, but is easily accesible by the tram. When I attended the program, I stayed in the heart of Reims and took the tram to and from the university every day, which was quite convenient. Several of my colleagues rented apartments either in the city of Reims or on the outskirts, which is also an alternative option. The hotel I stayed at sat directly across from the Reims train station, which was optimal for weekend trips to surrounding areas of Reims. During my stay, I traveled to Paris, Épernay, Vertus, Strasbourg, and a few smaller towns. There are many other options for trips and travel ventures on the weekend or if you extend your stay.

Abbey of Hauteville; Reims, France.

A course devoted exclusively to wine and the law (or to alcohol beverages and the law) is a rarity in American law schools. Such classes do exist, but the majority of American law schools do not feature even a lecture exploring the legal overtones of the alcohol beverage industry. While this is rather unfortunate, it is my hope that our law schools will one day feature a larger avenue for individuals with such an interest. Until then, I can honestly affirm my attendance at the 2011 Wine & Law Program was the apex of my law school career. That is not to imply my law school experience was unfavorable; my strongest academic interest simply lies with alcohol beverage law. I encourage anyone interested in the legal environment of the wine industry, even if not an attorney, to apply to this program. During my session, I was the only law school student in attendance, but there were several other attorneys in the program. There were also individuals with professional ties to the wine industry who were not attorneys. I can only speak favorably about my experience last summer at the Wine & Law Program, and if there are any questions regarding the experience I had last summer, I very much welcome them.

(First Image Credit: Wine & Law Program. Remaining images property of Lindsey A. Zahn.)


UK and EU Wine Law

Wine laws have existed in Europe for several centuries. One of the oldest wine laws in Europe was created by Reichstag in the Holy Roman Empire in 1498 to combat wine fraud. In the mid-nineteenth century, during the Great French Wine Blight, an overwhelming abundance of wine fraud due to a diminishing supply triggered a need for a strong wine law in France. The wine legislation conceived as a result of the Great French Wine Blight evolved into the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (“AOC”) system, and is the basis for common EU regulations.

Veuve Clicquot La Maison de Verzy; Verzy, France.

Today, wine laws regulate protected designations of origin, classification of wine, and labeling practices. Regulations allowed additives and procedures of viticulture and winemaking are also covered under wine law. The law functions at three levels: regional, state, and local. Appellation-based regulations are included in wine laws of several EU countries. These cover permitted varieties of grapes and practices in wine making. Examples of such appellation-based systems are the Portuguese Denominação de Origem Controlada (“DOC”), the Spanish Denominación de Origen (“DO”), the Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata (“DOC”), and the French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (“AOC”).

In the European Union, the Common Agricultural Policy (“CAP”) lays down the wine regulations (known as “The European Council and Commission Wine Regulations”)  that are common to the wine laws of most of the member countries. The rules and regulations laid out by the CAP Wine Regime are meant primarily to create an open and balanced market while governing all the principal sectors of the wine industry. These include well-defined rules for producers that cover production procedures, classification of wines, and oenological processes and practices. The rules also govern trading practices in the EU by providing a range of support and structural measures, details for labeling wine, descriptions of wines, and restrictions on the amount and quality of imports from non-EU nations.

The European Council and Commission Wine Regulations apply to all EU members. The Commission issues notices and directives from time to time for enforcement purposes. The Wine Regulations is a national Statutory Instrument (“SI”), which is reissued periodically. It is updated by regular amendments in the SIs issued to cover new or reformed legislation. Besides the generic regulations that apply to all EU countries as a whole, individual countries have their own additional frameworks for governing the wine industry. These additional laws are usually, but not always, confined to winemaking aspects like what percent of a grape species must be included in a particular label of wine with that variety name. As an example, the AOC system is ascribed to French wine professionals in order to ensure the authenticity of origin and that standard winemaking practices are in place.

Moët & Chandon Champagne Caves; Épernay, France.

In the UK, all of the European Commission Regulations are enforced by the Food Standards Agency. Additional wine rules in the UK, defined by the statutory instrument and known as the “The Wine Regulations 2011,” allow the UK to enforce community rules. The Food Standards agency functions seamlessly with growers and traders by helping them comply with the law by offering education and advice. The Food Standards agency also conducts an inspection program to deliver a cost-effective and targeted service using risk analysis. This agency identifies, analyzes, and forwards instances of breach of the law for further legal action by working closely with other regulatory bodies such as Defra, HM Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”), and local authorities.


  1. UK Legislation: The Wine Regulations 2011
  2. European Union Wine Laws: Wine Trade and Regulations

Photographs are property of Lindsey A. Zahn.

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Canadians encounter similar legal issues in the wine industry to those of us in the United States: provincial regulations and restrictions with respect to shipping and transportation of alcoholic beverages, establishing new appellations, and creating law that regulates third-party services. How can these issues be resolved or maintained?

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada

An upcoming seminar on wine issues in Vancouver will discuss the techniques and contemporary issues for the British Columbian market. Law Seminars International presents the Third Annual Wine Law Seminar Focusing on British Columbia, during the Vancouver Wine Festival. This year, the topics to be discussed include new regulations, licensing structures, and opportunities. The seminar, which will be hosted on February 27, 2012 at the Metropolitan Hotel in Vancouver, will be co-hosted by attorneys Mark Hickon, Esq. of Vintage Law Group and author of the blog WineLaw.ca, and Christopher S. Wilson, Esq. of  Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP. Law Seminar International recommends “[a]ttorneys and professionals in the wine and liquor industry” attend. (See Third Annual Wine Law Seminar Focusing on British Columbia.) The agenda features important topics revolving around legal issues in the wine industry particular to British Columbia, Canada, such as provincial regulation and taxation of alcoholic beverages, selling alcoholic beverages outside of British Columbia, the licensing scheme of British Columbia, establishing new appellations, and third-part Internet services for alcohol beverages. The end of the program is followed by a wine tasting event for faculty and attendees with Sid Cross, Esq., Co-Founder and Advisor of Chefs Table Society.

The following is a description of the seminar from the co-chairs:

This seminar will progress from getting a handle on pricing and sales issues to legal issues related to marketing and the various distribution channels, including shipping law reform. Trade-marks, geographical indicators and the economics of the industry, as well as legislative trends and regulatory processes, will also be addressed.

We will bring together experts from a variety of perspectives and disciplines to share their experiences, challenges and success stories regarding this evolving landscape. Don’t miss this annual gathering of the region’s leading wine and liquor law professionals. Join us for valuable discussions about the industry, as well as the wine tasting reception moderated by Sid Cross, Co-Founder of Chefs Table Society, following the seminar.

Program Co-Chairs: Mark Hicken, Esq. of Vintage Law Group and Christopher S. Wilson, Esq. of Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP

On Reserve is delighted to announce a special discount for its readers: half  off (50% off)full-priced, regular tuition with the registrar. Simply call Law Seminars at 206-567-4490 and ask for the Registrar, Dale, to use this discount, and mention the On Reserve Discount when you register. “Regular tuition for this seminar is [$]US595 with a group rate of $US445 each for two or more registrants from the same firm. For government employees, we offer a special rate of $US395. For students and people in their job for less than a year, our rate is $US297.50. All rates include admission to all seminar sessions, food and beverages at breaks, and all course materials. Make checks payable to Law Seminars International.” (Id.) For more information, see the brochure from the seminar.

(Image Credit: Rates To Go Blog.)


Professional Opportunities and Jobs in Wine Law

For students and even professionals interested in pursuing wine law, an avid question that often results is how to pursue wine law as a profession or professionally. Originally, when I first started my journey as a wine law researcher, I thought there was only one answer to this question: to practice wine law in a law firm, irrespective of the firm’s size. I also originally believed—quite incorrectly, actually—California to be the only state within the United States in which one could practice wine law. However, as I learned more about the field from both reading literature and speaking with a variety of practitioners, I realized there is a lot more to a professional career in wine law—just as there certainly are a lot of options aside from traditional practice one can pursue with a Juris Doctor. As a result, I thought an entry surveying the options with which I am familiar might be useful to those curious about professional pathways for wine and the law.

Quinta Nova; Douro Valley, Portugal

The most important distinction I must make before discussing the professional opportunities I know of with respect to wine and law is that wine law and alcohol beverage regulation are different. Wine law pertains exclusively to the legal regulation of the wine industry whereas alcohol beverage regulation usually entails wine, spirits, and beer. While the practice of each is not mutually exclusive, there are many opportunities that focus on one rather than the other. This blog focuses on wine law and, as I assume the majority of its readers are interested in the area of wine and the law, I will discuss the opportunities of which I am aware pertaining to wine and the law (but, because alcohol beverage regulation and wine law are not mutually exclusive, some of the forthcoming ideas may address alcohol beverage opportunities as well).

1. Traditional Firm Practice: There are many firms in the United States that have an alcohol beverage regulation division or a division exclusively focused on wine law. The types of firms vary: there are some large firms with offices located in areas with a prominent wine industry; there are medium-sized or regional firms that have either an alcohol beverage regulation division or a wine law division; there are smaller firms that have one office and focus exclusively on alcohol beverage regulation; and there are sole practitioners who may practice wine law as one of their fields. These firms are located throughout the United States, although a higher concentration tends to be found in California (e.g., San Francisco or Sonoma), Washington (e.g., Portland or Seattle), New York, and Washington, D.C.

2. Consulting: I am somewhat unfamiliar with the consulting area of wine law, but it is certainly an option to consider. There are several businesses that perform consulting matters for compliance, especially with respect to shipping alcohol interstate. Some groups in the wine industry may also provide consulting services for licenses, permits, and labeling. Organizations that fall under this category, to my knowledge, include Compliance Connection and Compliance Service of America.

3. Trade Groups or Non-Profit Organizations: The trade groups and non-profit organizations of the wine industry exist, generally speaking, with the intent to increase communication and help develop the wine industry. The mission of each group is usually different, but generally focuses on promoting wine education among American consumers (as well as international consumers). In addition to educational missions, many trade associations also work closely with legislatures to assist with legal challenges of the wine industry. Some trade groups include WineAmerica (The National Association of American Wineries), The Center for Wine Origins, The Wine InstituteFamily Wine Makers of California, and Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association (“ASWA”). Many of these organizations or groups are located in or around the Washington, D.C. area, although there are many found throughout major wine regions of the United States.

4. Research/Academia: Perhaps the most exciting field—at least, in my opinion—of the aforementioned categories is a research or academic pathway for wine and the law. Scholarly writing about wine law is certainly a field that needs much attention and will hopefully grow over time. Currently, there are a lot of law journals with articles published that discuss some legal aspect of the wine industry (i.e., intellectual property, overtones of constitutional law, trade, etc.), but generally speaking, most of these articles are not written by wine law scholars. There are few books that directly deal with legal issues of the wine industry, but there are several books that briefly discuss wine with respect to a broader legal issue (i.e., Bernard O’Connor’s The Law of Geographical Indications). Whereas there are not many schools or institutions that offer classes in wine and the law, the pathway is still a great one and is one I personally feel will grow stronger in years to come. Currently, UC Berkeley School of Law has a Program on Wine Law and Public Policy directed by academic and attorney Richard Mendelson. I believe UC Davis is also in the process of establishing a wine law program, or at least considering one, but I am not certain if that is completely accurate (the school does host a wine law conference each year. See UC Davis Wine Law Conference; see also Review of the UC Davis Wine Law Conference, June 2-4). There is also the highly recommended Wine & Law Program at the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne created and directed by Theodore Georgopoulos, which offers both masters degrees and university diplomas in wine law. This summer, the program will focus on comparative aspects of EU and U.S. wine law. There are also a few other attorneys who teach classes or host lectures and seminars. Additionally, there are wine law conferences and seminars hosted by Law Seminars, gathering many academics and professionals. The research and academic pathways are the direction in which I hope to proceed at some point in my career.

There is a strong possibility that, because I am simply a student and continually learning about the possibilities of pursuing wine law professionally, I overlooked several opportunities. If such exist, please feel free to either leave a comment or send me an e-mail at lazahn@winelawonreserve.com. I am always interested in hearing about alternative pathways, as well as sharing such with others interested in wine and the law.

Quinta Nova; Douro Valley, Portugal

One final note to make is that wine law, although certainly with strong overtones on the West Coast, is not only concentrated on the East Coast, but also has an international focus, as well as a focus in other regions of the United States. Whereas California is the biggest producer of wine in the States, it is not the only state with lawyers knowledgeable about wine and the law. Each state has its own alcohol beverage control department or agency, which regulate the alcohol beverage industry within the state. This includes issuing licenses and permits in accordance to the state’s alcohol laws, as well as many other tasks. (See, e.g., California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, New York State Liquor Authority, and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.) On the state side, there are many different types of alcohol beverage businesses that need to obtain appropriate permits or licenses; sometimes this can be pursued in house, but other times help from outside counsel is acquired. Counsel may be members of a larger firm or even a firm without a designated alcohol beverage regulation division.

My point is simply that alcohol beverage law has overtones in all fifty states of the United States. Whereas the wine section of alcohol beverage law may be more prominent in states with a greater number of vineyards or a stronger wine industry—like California or Washington—legal overtones of the wine industry are not nonexistent in states with fewer vineyards or less involvement in the wine industry. While the strategic approach in those states may be different from the approach in states where wine is a larger part of the agriculture industry, it is still possible to practice as an attorney and oversee issues pertaining to wine and the law in any state.


Wine and Law: A Wrap-Up for the Year

Sincerest apologies on my behalf for the lack of updates from On Reserve the last few months. This recent semester has, most certainly, been a busy one for me as I spent the majority of my time attending to my responsibilities as the Executive Articles Editor of the Brooklyn Journal of International Law Volume 37 and brainstorming ideas for post-graduation. Hopefully, the upcoming spring semester will prove to be somewhat less intense such that I can devote more time to the blog. Additionally, we plan to feature some guest writers on wine law in the upcoming months, including one from abroad, which will certainly be exciting.

Quinta Nova, Ferrão; Douro Valley, Portugal.

For now, this entry focuses on two major updates in the wine law world that occurred during the last few weeks. These updates revolve around news for third party providers (“TPPs”) in the wine world and the recent French case entailing Red Bicyclette. The update regarding third party providers is especially pertinent to the wine industry in America and the Red Bicyclette case is one that is of particular interest to the wine world.

As discussed in a prior On Reserve entry, the influx of TPPs with respect to wine and other alcohol beverage sales is one that entailed an interesting area of the law. (Read our original post on TPPs, Third Party Providers and the Future of Wine Laws in America.) In summary, the California Alcoholic Beverage Control published an industry advisory in October 2011 with respect to TPPs in the alcohol beverage industry. As previously addressed in our post, TPPs are not licensed to sell alcohol and, given the structure of their business model, do not actually obtain possession or “title” to an alcohol beverage when a sale is made to a consumer via a virtual sales site (i.e., the alcohol beverage is shipped from a manufacturer, producer, retailer, and/or a wholesaler and does not enter the premises of the TPP during the course of sale). The advisory issued this past October contends that all sales of an alcohol beverage must be made by a licensed retailer or producer but that a TPP need not be licensed as long as “all sales transactions involving Third Party Providers must ultimately be conducted by and under the control of a licensee.” (See California Alcoholic Beverage Control Industry Advisory: Third Party Providers, October 2011.) As a result, licensees working with a TPP are “ultimately responsible” for the activities pursued by the TPP on behalf of the licensee. (Id.) This fundamentally requires that orders for alcohol beverages solicited by the licensee through the use of a TPP “be transmitted by the Third Party Provider to the licensee involved” and such licensee must be identified in the sale, as well as “ultimately control the transaction, including any decisions concerning acceptance or rejection of such orders . . . [and be] responsible for, and [] control, the fulfillment of orders and the shipment of alcoholic beverages from the licensees’ licensed premises or other authorized shipping point . . . .” (Id.) Finally, of relative importance to our prior article, the industry advisory found advertisements of Internet sales to be “akin to” those found in other media venues (e.g., radio, print, etc.) such that the advertisements “only become an integral part of a sale when the sale is completed by the transfer of title of an alcoholic beverage for consideration” and the licensee’s placement an advertisement on a TPP website, without transferring title of the alcohol beverage, is not considered a sale under the California Business and Professions Code section 23025. (Id.) For further reading, please review Industry Advisory for Third Party Providers, California Sets the Table for Regulation of Third-Party Wine Providers, and Understanding the California ABC’s New Advisory for Wineries and Third Party Providers.

The implications of this advisory are interesting, given the rather antiquated history of alcohol beverage laws in the United States. The advisory ultimately recognizes the growth and changes of the industry and, with that, the necessary legal alterations to adapt to innovative business models like those of the TPPs. It will certainly be interesting to see the continued development of the online segment of the alcohol beverage industry and how the legal environment changes to accomodate such.

Quinta Nova, Ferrão; Douro Valley, Portugal.

The Red Bicyclette case stems from an instance involving fraudulently-labeled Pinot Noir sold to the United States. “Between January 2006 to March 2008 some 18.5m bottles of fake Pinot Noir—made up of mainly Merlot and Syrah—were sold to E&J Gallo and Constellation Wines, netting a profit of €7m for those involved.” (See Appeal Court Upholds Red Bicyclette Sentences.) In October of 2011, a French appeal court in Montpellier upheld the sentences imposed on Red Bicyclette suppliers. (Id.) The original sentences, which were imposed by a French court in Carcassonne in February 2010, suspended jail terms between one and six months and extended fines from 3,000 to 180,000 euros with respect to selling eighteen million bottles of falsely-labeled Pinot Noir. (See Red Bicyclette Suppliers Convicted.) In his ruling, the judge noted that the level of fraud in this case “caused severe prejudice to the wines of Languedoc in the United States.” (Id.) Whereas the appeal court upheld the sentences, it made “considerable changes” to the original sentences garnered by the Carcassonne court. (See Appeal Court Upholds Red Bicyclette Sentences.) Some defendants received longer prison sentences with lower fines whereas other defendants received fines that were substantially increased.

Photographs are property of Lindsey A. Zahn.

For more information on wine or alcohol law, direct shipping, third party providers, or three-tier distribution,  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.


Recently, I read an interesting article discussing the use of the term ‘Grand Cru’ by a United States winemaker. (See Much Ado About a Wine Marketing Designation.) The story reflects the use of the term ‘Grand Cru’ by Sea Smoke Cellars of Santa Barbara, California.  After receiving a review in 2008 from Wine Spectator writer James Laube that dubbed the winery as one of the “grand cru” properties in Santa Barbara, the winery used the term ‘Grand Cru’ on ” all of its 2009 releases.” (Id.) ‘Grand Cru’ is a term used by French wine producers and “is a rating for established vineyards, and is highly regulated as part of French wine law. The term is most closely associated with Burgundy, where it may be used on a few dozen highly regarded, high-quality vineyard parcels.” (Id.) In order to receive such a rating in France, the wine product and vineyard are continually subjected to quality control and strict regulations.

In the United States, we do not have a system that grants vineyards the title of ‘Grand Cru’ or the equivalent. “[Q]uality terms are not as regulated as they are in Europe. Most terms that imply quality, such as ‘reserve,’ are marketing terms here. They are not checked or approved by a regulatory body.” (Id.) It is interesting to consider the use of the term ‘Grand Cru’ by a non-French winery under conditions that are not as highly regulated. In the United States, using the term ‘Grand Cru’ can certainly be a marketing tactic. (See Sea Smoke Declares Own Vineyards ‘Grand Cru’ on the Label.) However, while the French may possess a strong regulatory system that awards vineyards with the prestigious title of the ‘Grand Cru’ term, is the use of this term by the French also not a form of marketing—especially to the American market?

More appropriately keyed to On Reserve readership, however, are the interesting legal implications of this term. Whereas ‘Grand Cru’ is not a legally-protected wine name (or a quality wine produced in a specified region, as outlined in the Agreement Between the United States of America and the European Community on Trade in Wine), it is still a wine term that indicates quality, standards, and regional regulation. Should the wine term ‘Grand Cru’ be protected in an analogous fashion to non-generic wines, and thus strictly reserved for wines bottled in the corresponding wine region by vineyards awarded this title? Alternatively, should the term be extended to other wine regions and allowed for marketing tactics, such we see with Sea Smoke?

For more information on wine or alcohol law, federal law, or labeling and 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.