Monterey County Wines Subject to New Conjunctive Labeling Requirements
Are you planning on bottling and labeling any wines with the name of a Monterey County AVA in the new year? Then you’ll need to comply with a new conjunctive labeling requirement. See Cal. Business and Professions Code Sec. 25247.
In 2015, the state legislature passed a law requiring wine labeled with the name of an AVA that is entirely within Monterey County to also include a “Monterey County” designation. This includes the Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, and Santa Lucia Highlands AVAs. The law applies to wines bottled on or after January 1, 2019.
The law does not apply to AVAs that straddle Monterey County and any other county. For example, the Chalone AVA bridges Monterey County and Benito County, so a wine labeled with the Chalone AVA is not covered by Sec. 25247.
There is one other exception to the conjunctive labeling requirement: wines labeled with the Monterey AVA. This is where things get a little confusing. Under federal law, a wine can carry the name of a county as an appellation of wine origin. AVAs are also considered appellations, but in order to carry the name of an AVA, a higher percentage of the grapes must come from that AVA. In both cases, the wine must be fully finished in the state in which the county or AVA is located (assuming the AVA is entirely within one state).
Federal regulations recognize both a “Monterey County” appellation, as well as a Monterey AVA. The Monterey AVA is located in Monterey County, but does not cover all of Monterey County (see map below). Any wine that is labeled with the Monterey AVA is exempt from the California conjunctive labeling requirement found in Cal. Business and Professions Code Sec. 25247.
For more information regarding conjunctive labeling or wine labeling regulations, please contact John Trinidad.
COLA’s Provide Scant Protection from Class Action Lawsuits
ShipCompliant recently published a guest blog post by DP&F Wine Law attorney John Trinidad on the class action lawsuits claiming that the use of the term “handmade” on vodka bottles constituted false or misleading information under state consumer protection laws.
Over the past year, a slew of class action lawsuits have been filed claiming that certain alcohol beverage product labels are false or misleading under state consumer protection laws. Tito’s Vodka, owned by a company called Fifth Generation, Inc., faces numerous actions claiming that the company’s use of the term “handmade” deceived consumers by leading them to believe that they were buying high quality, non-massed produced products.
Fifth Generation has fought these allegations, arguing that that TTB’s approval of their label as evidenced by the issuance of a certificate of label approval (“COLA”) protects against liability under state consumer protection laws. The company’s argument relies on “safe harbor” provisions provided for under state law, which in general make certain actions authorized by laws administered by state or federal regulatory authorities immune from liability. Unfortunately for the alcohol beverage industry, this argument has had mixed success.
To read the full blog post, please go to the ShipCompliant website.
New Paso AVAs Available for Use in November
In early 2006, the Paso Robles AVA Committee (PRAVAC) began an organized outreach effort to growers and vintners across the Paso Robles wine country and kicked off the formal process of gathering historical and scientific evidence that would support the further definition of the distinctive wine regions within the Paso Robles AVA. For many PRAVAC members, the desire arose much earlier to educate the public about the unique areas within the Paso Robles AVA and how these distinctive qualities in each area impact the wine produced in the region. In May 2007, the PRAVAC filed eleven petitions with the TTB to establish eleven separate AVAs within the approximately 612,000 acre Paso Robles AVA.
On Thursday, October 9, 2014, the TTB will publish the Final Rule establishing the 11 new AVAs within the Paso Robles AVA. These new viticultural areas include Adelaida District, Creston District, El Pomar District, Paso Robles Estrella District, Paso Robles Geneseo District, Paso Robles Highlands District, Paso Robles Willow Creek District, San Juan Creek, San Miguel District, Santa Margarita Ranch, and Templeton Gap District.
The effective date for all 11 AVAs will be November 10, 2014 at which time producers of qualifying Paso Robles wine can apply to TTB for COLAs with one of the new AVA names. The new AVAs can be used on wine of any vintage as long as it is not already bottled and labeled.
DPF has been proud to represent the PRAVAC through this process and sends its congratulations to all of the PRAVAC members and supporters.