American Viticultural Area Information

From Wikipedia
  (Redirected from American viticultural area)

Table of Contents ⇨
A bottle of wine from the Santa Maria Valley AVA, which was America's third American Viticultural Area when it was established

An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States, providing an official appellation for the benefit of wineries and consumers. Winemakers frequently want their consumers to know about the geographic pedigree of their wines. Wines of particular pedigrees can claim premium prices and loyal customers. U.S. wineries use a tag on the label of the wine, called Appellation of Origin, to signal the geographic pedigree of the wine. Appellations refer to grape-growing regions that may be defined by political boundaries (such as a county, state or nation), or by federally-recognized regions known as American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). In order for a wine to be designated with an Appellation of Origin, federal law requires that at least 75 percent of the grapes used to make the wine be grown within the boundary of the appellation, and that the wine be fully finished within the state in which the appellation is located. Some appellation areas are subject to more stringent rules; for example, for a wine to be designated with the Appellation of Origin of California, 100 percent of the grapes used to make the wine should be from California, and the wine should be fully finished within the state.

The Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) [1] designates viticultural areas (AVAs) to allow wine makers to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines that they may purchase.


The boundaries of AVAs are defined by the TTB, a component of the United States Department of the Treasury. [2]

The TTB defines AVAs at the request of wineries and other petitioners. Before the AVA system, wine appellations of origin in the United States were designated based on state or county boundaries. All of these appellations were grandfathered into federal regulations and may appear on wine labels as designated places of origin, but these appellations are distinct from AVAs.

Some AVA facts

[3]AVAs range in size from the Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA, at more than 19 million acres (29,900 square miles (77,000 km2)) across four states (Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), [4] to the Cole Ranch AVA in Mendocino County, California, at only 60 acres (24 ha). [5] The Augusta AVA surrounding the area around the town of Augusta, Missouri, was the first recognized AVA, gaining the status on June 20, 1980. [6] The second established AVA is Sonoma Valley, which was established in 1981. There are currently 244 AVAs in the United States, which include the most recently approved Van Duzer Corridor AVA in Oregon (approved with effect from January 14, 2019). Sonoma County in California contains 17 AVAs. [7]

Once an AVA is established, at least 75% of the grapes used to make a wine must be grown in the specified area if an AVA is referenced on its label. [8] Additionally, the wine must be fully finished in the state where the AVA is located.

State or county boundaries—such as used for Oregon wine or Sonoma County wine—are not defined as AVAs, even though they are used to identify the source of a wine. AVAs are reserved for situations where a geographically defined area (not an entire state or county) has been using the name and it has come to be identified with that area. [9].[ citation needed]

An AVA may be located within one or more larger AVAs. For example, the Santa Clara Valley AVA and Livermore Valley AVAs are located within the territory of the San Francisco Bay AVA, which is itself located within the Central Coast AVA.[ citation needed] In such cases, the wine may be labeled listing one or more AVAs. See map on the right showing the outline of the Paso Robles AVA (California's largest in terms of area), and the different AVAs that are contained within this large AVA.

Paso Robles AVA

In 2018, the second session of the 115th Congress recognized American Viticultural Areas’ contribution to the economy. The Blunt-Merkley Resolution passed unanimously. [10] It noted that an AVA allows vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wine, while helping vintners to build and enhance the reputation and value of the wines produced. AVAs also allow consumers to attribute a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic to a wine made from grapes grown in an AVA. AVAs also help consumers identify what they purchase. [11]

Petition requirement

Section 4.25(e)(2) of the TTB regulations (27 C.F.R. § 4.25(e)(2)) outlines the procedure for proposing an AVA and provides that any interested party may petition TTB to establish a grape-growing region as an AVA. Section 9.12 of the TTB regulations (27 C.F.R. § 9.12) prescribes the standards for petitions for the establishment or modification of AVAs. Petitions to establish an AVA must include the following:

  • Evidence that the area within the proposed AVA boundary is nationally or locally known by the AVA name specified in the petition;
  • An explanation of the basis for defining the boundary of the proposed AVA;
  • A narrative description of the features of the proposed AVA affecting viticulture, such as climate, geology, soils, physical features, and elevation, that make the proposed AVA distinctive and distinguish it from adjacent areas outside the proposed AVA;
  • The appropriate United States Geological Survey (USGS) map(s) showing the location of the proposed AVA, with the boundary of the proposed AVA clearly drawn thereon;
  • An explanation of the proposed AVA is sufficiently distinct from an existing AVA so as to warrant separate recognition, if the proposed AVA is to be established within, or overlapping, an existing AVA; and
  • A detailed narrative description of the proposed AVA boundary based on USGS map markings.

Current designated regions

Viticultural areas and appellations in other countries

Major wine growing countries such as France, Italy and Spain have their own designations of viticultural areas and appellations. France has a system to identify the geographic origin of wine (grapes) called Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée/Protégée (AOC/AOP), which first started in 1937. Italy uses the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) system, which was first established in 1963. Today there are 329 different DOCs and 73 DOCGs in Italy. In Spain, the Denominación de Origen (DO) or Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) system is used. Spain currently has 79 DOP’s, 2 DOC’s, 17 Vino de Pagos (VT) [12] and 46 Vino de la Tierra (VdlT/IGP).

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Appellations of Origin", Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  3. ^ "Some examples of AVA geographic areas". Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  4. ^ "Upper Mississippi River Valley (AVA)". Retrieved 2015-07-17.
  5. ^ "Cole Ranch (AVA)". Retrieved 2015-07-17.
  6. ^ Code of Federal Regulations "Title 27, Volume 1", Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms.
  7. ^ "Sonoma County Terroir | A Guide to Sonoma County's 17 AVAs". Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  8. ^ "Requirement", Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  9. ^ "Search Results for "AVA" – Wine, Wit, and Wisdom". Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  10. ^ "Blunt press release". Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  11. ^ "Blunt-Merkley Resolution" (PDF). 2018-09-26. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  12. ^ Hudin, Miquel (Mar 13, 2018). "What is a Vino de Pago?". Decanter. Retrieved May 27, 2019.

External links