Understanding wine labels can be confusing. What does it mean when a label declares the wine is from California versus another that claims to be from a specific vineyard in a particular AVA? Why does one wine label profess to be a red blend, when another label lists a particular varietal(s)? Most of the information placed on a wine label is regulated and each wine producer must register and receive approval by TTB, the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau before using any and all labels.
Required Information for Wine Labels
- Alcohol %
- Health warning
- Bottler name & address
- Varietal/wine type
- Sulfite declaration
- Vintage date
- Appellation or region
- Net volume
Reading a Wine Label
The 75-85-95% Rule for Wine Labels
To place a particular varietal (ex: Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay) on a label, 75% of the grapes must be that varietal.
85%: appellation (AVA)
To place a particular AVA (American Viticultural Area) on the label (ex: Coombsville or Russian River Valley), 85% of the grapes must be grown in that region.
To include a vintage year, for example 2019 or 2021, on a wine label, 95 percent of the grapes must have been grown and harvested that year.
Additional note: if a vineyard is listed on a wine label, at least 95% of the grapes must come from that vineyard.
More Tips for Understanding Wine Labels
- To list a state or county designation, only 75% of the grapes must be grown in the listed region.
- If a label claims “California” as the region, that gives the producer wide range each year to source grapes from anywhere in the state.
- In the USA, the term ‘estate bottled’ is defined by law and the wine must have been made and bottled at the producer’s winery. Additionally, the grapes must be from vineyards owned or controlled by the producer that are within the same viticultural area as the winery.
Just a few years ago the Viszlay family fulfilled their dream of owning a winery. John Viszlay uprooted his life and relocated to Russian River Valley where Viszlay Vineyards was born. A stunningly beautiful and thriving 10 acre vineyard, it is as diverse as it is picturesque, with 12 varietals grown on their property including Prosecco.Read More