Sunday, July 17, 2011

U.S. GOVERNMENT LOOKS AT STRICTER RULES ON WINE LABELS


Wine News

Ask most winemakers, and they'll probably tell you there are already plenty of regulations concerning how things can be worded on wine labels.  Some in the wine industry are now telling the federal government just that, as the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has begun to make noise about tightening restrictions on the words that appear on wine labels.

An article from the Los Angeles Times, by Michael Doyle, says many terms that are used on wine labels are not specifically defined, so they actually have no meaning in a legal sense.

The article points out that "estate bottled" is a strictly defined term and wineries must adhere to guidelines in order to use it on the label.  "Estate" by itself is not defined, however, so there are no regulations at all on how that word may be used.

Other terms which have no legal definition - "old vine," "select harvest." "barrel select" and proprietor's blend," for instance - are now being studied for the way they are used in describing wine.

The article states that regulators began asking for input from consumers and the wine industry in 2010 on whether more control should be exerted.  California's Wine Institute has already chimed in that current labeling restrictions are sufficient.  So has the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

The article cites one Oregon winery which might not be opposed to tougher label regulations.  The owners of Stone Hollow Vineyard are quoted that they use the term "estate bottled" on their wine labels and they don't appreciate that other wineries could use the term "estate" as loosely as they wish.

According to the article, the Feds have not said when the next step on a new set of regulations might come.


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