12.28.2011  
 

TTB Wraps End-of-Year Wine Business

Bureau gets busy with AVA petitions and rulings

 
by Jane Firstenfeld
 
fort ross
 
The Fort Ross-Seaview AVA encompasses 27,500 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean, within the Sonoma Coast and North Coast AVAs.
Washington, D.C.—After a year of relative quietude on the grape and wine front, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued a flurry of news in the past two months, establishing new AVAs and posting other AVA petitions for public comment.

Perhaps the most notable, and certainly the most controversial, was the decision announced Nov. 16 to expand the boundaries of the Russian River Valley and Northern Sonoma AVAs. Requested by Gallo Family Vineyards and backed by (among others) fellow corporate giant Constellation Wines, the expansion had been opposed by a majority of public comments, mostly from grapegrowers and vintners within the existing AVA borders.

Although, as reported by Wines & Vines, foes were ultimately disappointed in their efforts to maintain the AVA as previously defined, the battle may provide useful information for those who wish to register their opinions—pro or con—when the TTB announces future proposed rulemaking.

As TTB media representative Thomas Hogue explained, the bureau bases its rulemaking on the substance of the comments and documentation submitted. So if you have comments, make sure you do your homework and be prepared to document it.

Comments and conclusions
Two proposed AVAs are now available for public comments on the TTB website.

Notice 123: Middleburg, Va., AVA: 198 square miles in northern Virginia.
Petitioner: Boxwood Winery, Middleburg, Va.
Comments due: Jan. 9, 2012.
Comments to date: Five.
To read and comment, click here.

Notice No. 125, Inwood Valley AVA: 28,298 acres, Shasta County, Calif.
Petitioner: Anselmo Vineyards, Inwood Valley, Calif.
Comments due: Feb. 3, 2012.
Comments to date: Zero.
To read and comment, click here.

In addition to the Russian River Valley extension, the TTB announced establishment of three other AVAs, one in Sonoma County.

The Fort Ross-Seaview AVA encompasses 27,500 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean, within the Sonoma Coast and North Coast AVAs.

Naches Heights viticultural area includes 13,254 acres in Yakima County, Wash., within the Columbia Valley AVA.

Finally, in southern Napa County within the Napa Valley and North Coast viticultural areas, the 11,075-acre Coombsville became the valley’s 16th AVA.

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