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Napa Means Napa!

Another big decision rolled through wine country yesterday as the California Court of Appeal upheld a state labeling law that says that the names of places mean something and if you want to use the name of that place in your winery name, then the bulk of the grapes have to come from that place.

This decision is good news for consumers. Federal law basically requires that the brand name not be misleading but had an exception for brands established before 1986. The California law eliminates this exception. Additionally, wine labels that wish to state a particular state, county, or viticultural appellation are subject to additional federal requirements. To use a state or county appellation on the label, at least 75% of the grapes used to produce the wine must be from the state or county. In order to use an approved viticultural appellation, the wine must be at least 85% from that AVA.

Bronco Wine Co., the company challenging the state law, claimed that its labels were not misleading or deceptive. The ruling will have an immediate impact on three of Bronco’s brands: Napa Ridge, Napa Creek Winery, and Rutherford Vintners, but shouldn’t affect its massively successful Charles Shaw brand. Napa Ridge, Napa Creek and Rutherford Vintners are all produced with grapes grown outside of Napa or Rutherford.

If you weren’t in the wine industry or hadn’t read this post up to this point would you have had any indication that the above mentioned wines weren’t from the famed Napa Valley? On the face of things you probably would have thought that these were Napa products even though the federally mandated fine print prohibited a claim of Napa as the source of the fruit. The fact of the matter is if you aren’t a wine geek like me, you probably wouldn’t look at the fine print and would just assume a wine called Napa Ridge was from Napa.

The court felt the same way, “Although more sophisticated wine consumers may not be misled by a brand name of viticultural significance that does not meet the appellation of origin requirements, other wine consumers are unaware of the technical meaning of the term 'appellation of origin,' and do not understand the significance of the specification of origin on the label. At the same time, these less sophisticated wine consumers are sufficiently aware of Napa Valley and its reputation as a premium wine growing region and consider that factor when purchasing wine.”

Thanks to the California Court of Appeal, now you can be sure if the label says Napa, it means Napa!

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Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by Michel J. Ayer on Friday, May 27, 2005 at 13:21 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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