Proposed Expansion of Oregon’s Willamette Valley AVA
Willamette Valley, one of the most well regarded American Viticultural Areas, may be getting a wee bit bigger. Last week, the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published a notice of proposed rulemaking detailing the proposed addition of approximately 29 square miles (which constitutes less than 1% of the existing AVA) to the southwestern edge of the Willamette Valley, as shown in the following map:
King Estate Winery, which is located in the proposed expansion area and Oregon’s largest wine producer, submitted the petition, and both the Willamette Valley Wineries Association and the Oregon Winegrowers Association have voiced their support. The petition is available online at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=TTB-2015-0008-0002
As evidence that the expansion area is associated with the established Willamette Valley AVA, the petitioners included excerpts from restaurant wine lists that identify certain King Estate wines as coming from “Willamette,” “Willamette Valley,” or “Willamette, Oregon,” even though the wines are not labeled as Willamette Valley AVA, nor could they be under TTB regulations. Query as to whether this demonstrates true association with the expansion area and the existing Willamette Valley AVA or simply sommelier error.
Members of the public can submit comments through August 17, 2015. For more information, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=TTB-2015-0008
TTB Proposes New Oregon AVA, Cites Wine Blogs as Support
Winegrowers vying to become the 18th American Viticultural Area in Oregon have reached an important milestone. On February 26, 2014, a new notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the Federal Register, soliciting comments regarding the proposed “The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater” AVA. The comment period is open until April 28, 2014, and comments can be submitted online.
The proposed 4.9 square mile AVA is located just south of the Oregon/Washington border, in the southern part of the Walla Walla AVA, which in turn is nested in the Columbia Valley AVA. If TTB approves the new AVA, Washington wineries sourcing grapes from there will have to have their wines “finished” in Oregon in order to use the AVA name on their label pursuant to 27 CFR 4.25(e).
Wine blogs may end up playing a role in petitioner’s efforts to secure an AVA. Petitioners must submit evidence that the proposed AVA name is “currently and directly associated with an area in which viticulture exists.” The notice of proposed rulemaking cited two wine blogs (Washington Wine Report and Wine Peeps) that have referred to the area as “the rocks” in the section discussing “Name Evidence.” The petition submitted in support of the new AVA can be found through this link.
Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty has represented a number of AVA petitioners before the TTB. For more information on AVA petitions, please contact Carol Kingery Ritter at [email protected] or John Trinidad at [email protected].