2014 Wine Law Updates in Review

2014 Wine Law Updates in Review2014 was a busy year for wine law changes. Here are just a few of them.

Nizza rhymes with pizza, but the region’s Barbera is far from casual. The long-awaited Nizza DOCG in Piedmont is home to some of the highest-quality Barbera in Italy. Its requirements for oak aging and minimum alcohol are more rigorous than for the Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG within which it lies. Every Nizza DOCG wine must be at least 90% Barbera and the Reserva classification allows for no blending of other grapes whatsoever.

For more details: 74th DOCG Granted – Italy Celebrates a Serious Barbera

The new Malibu Coast AVA delineates a very cool, coastal area north of Los Angeles. Acreage under vine and the number of producers is low, but the area is legitimately a place to grow wine grapes. Because of the climate and surplus of moist ocean area, ripening and late season rot are issues. However, the biggest challenge will be for the small collection of producers to grow and vinify to levels of quality that will make non-locals take note.

For more details: Malibu Coast Becomes an AVA

The first question most people asked when hearing about the new Manton Valley AVA wasn’t “what grapes do they grow,” but “where in the heck is Manton Valley?" It lies east of Red Bluff in Tehama county and features nearly thirty different volcanic soils, thanks to its neighbor Mt. Lassen (and Mt. Shasta further north). Altitude is high, at nearly 2,000 feet, while acres under vine are low. Current wine production caters primarily to locals and travelers.

For more details: Manton Valley Approved as Tehama County’s 1st AVA

The Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA was easy to justify, but held up over potential trademark issues. Eventually, that roadblock was cleared and Eagle Peak soared to approval. The climate lies in between the cool, coastal personality of Anderson Valley and warm, inland areas such as Redwood Valley. The most significant producer in the area, and the one which sponsored the petition, is Masut. Under that label, brothers Ben and Jake Fetzer produce very fine Pinot Noir.

For more details: TTB Establishes Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA

After what must have been the longest gestation period in TTB history, the government delivered a litter of new AVAs within the existing Paso Robles AVA. Paso Robles was, by far, the largest undivided AVA in the state. Now, 11 new ones allow producers to highlight the area’s diversity.

The long wait for approval was due primarily to disagreements among producers in the area, and consequent changes to the petition,. The first petition called for simply dividing the huge AVA in two, using Highway 101 as the borderline. That wouldn’t have effectively isolated differences in climate or soil. It also made ill-founded good-bad comparisons too likely.

The more complex division does a good job of isolating regions that are truly differentiated by things that matter to grapes and wine. And a conjunctive labeling requirement means that consumers won’t be confused. All bottles must list Paso Robles as the origin, along with the more specific designation.

For more details: 11 New, Nested AVAs in Paso Robles Present Opportunities for Distinction

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