Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Napa Valley Green Certification

With so many wine regions trying to distinguish themselves, you have to give the Napa Valley credit for being out front on yet another intitiative.  The Napa Valley Green Certification program is a A collective effort of the Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa County Farm Bureau and the Napa County Resource Conservation District.  It is frankly amazing that these groups worked together for the benefit of both the environment and the industry, and I applaud them and hope others will follow.
The certification programs hope to promote long-term sustainability in the county’s no. 1 industry and help the troubled Napa River watershed.  With sustainablity and local becoming such buzz words in the industry adn without much regulation on either of these terms, it is programs like these that will allow a consumers to distinguish between wineries that are serious about considering their impacts.
The Napa Green program certifies both wineries and vineyards and has met with remarkable success.  Some of the biggest names in the industry have joined and are now promoting the process. This trend is not only happening in Napa.
On the Central Coast, the Central Coast Vineyard Team has been hard at work with a similar program.  They have also garnered support from the Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Here is hoping that this group starts getting support from more local players like the local Vintners, the Grape Growers, the County Agricultural Commisions and others. 
For mor information on the Napa Green Certification, you can access the Napa Vintners website or the Napa Growers websites.  For the Central Coast Vineyard Team,  click on the attached link.  http://www.vineyardteam.com/



Sunday, November 28, 2010


I just posted a new website at http://www.winelawyer.com/.  I admit that it still needs a ton of work, but I cannot believe that  I was able to do it by myself, in just a few hours and for free.  I pay a few bucks a month to have it hosted by http://www.wix.com/ where I got the free template. So go check it out and tell me what needs to be changed.  Cheers  Matt

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wine Preferences

I recently received and email with regard to a review of a winery called Cayuse. I admittedly know nothing about this winery. However, the review purported to show that the reviewers opinion of a winery was supported by scientific analysis of the wine.

I am a big fan of wine reviewers and reviews. I think that they help set a general tone for an increase in the quality of wine that we drink. That being said, I often find that many of wine consumers have vastly different preferences in the wines that we like to drink.

As an example, I am ok with a little bit of brett in my wines and often find that they add character. My wife, on the other hand, simply will not drink wine with Brett and can sniff it out from a mile away.

I am glad that there are wineries like Cayuse out there. Wineries that make a different style of wine and have a following that allows them to continue this. I think it adds to the complexity and interest for those of us that are wine lovers. As Thanksgiving is coming upon us, I raise my glass to all wine makers in a toast of thanks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TTB Label Terms

The TTB recently invited comments by publishing in the Federa Register proposed changes to the definition of certain words on wine labels. www.winebusiness.com/content/file/TTB_WinemakingTerms.pdf As someone that is often asked if certain terms are allowed on a bottle, this rule may actually affect a much larger number of wineries than people would assume or that may be aware of these rules. Mostly, this is because many people in the industry are not aware of the ramifications of placing the word Estate on their label or that by defining words, the TTB could have a direct affect on the value of their vineyards.

First, the TTB is proposing to codify the position that Estate Grown may only be used on wine that meets the requirements of Estate Bottled under 27 CFR 4.26. Essentially, the wine must be grown on vineyards controlled by the winery, crushed, fermented and bottled by the winery and within the AVA on the label. If you have presently use Estate Grown on your labels without complying with this requirement, your label approvals could be revoked and would not be exempt from this ruling.

Second, the TTB is looking at defining what a vineyard, farm or ranch is with regard to vineyard designation or claims of single vineyard on the label. For owners of these properties who value the ability to designate wines, it would seem that this could be a very important issue. A definition could limit a vineyad name to a certain AVA or area, such that vineyards which cross these lines would have to maintain two names. A vineyards could be defined as a contiguous parcel, such that Vineyards that are not entirely connected would have to have seperate names. This might dramatically affect the value of grapes from these seperated portions of your property.

Finally, the TTB is proposing to define a number of terms that are often added to a wineries description of the wine. These terms are such as: Proprietor Grown, Vintner Grown, Proprietors Blend, Old Vine, Barrel Fermented, Old Clone, Reserve, Select Harvested, Bottle Aged, and Barrel Select. If your winery uses any of these terms in its programs, you will want to be sure that what ever the basis is for your claim to these terms is incorporated into the rules. Otherwise, you label approvals could be revoked and you could find yourself in violation of TTB rules for continuing your past practices.