Loeffelholz / Trinidad on Wine Labeling Legal and IP Issues

Wine Business Monthly recently published an article by DP&F attorneys Katja Loeffelholz and John Trinidad on wine labeling legal and intellectual property issues. You can access the article using the following link:

“Avoiding Label Approval Issues”

wbm_cover_2014-4-1(Published with the permission of Wine Business Monthly).

Trends in Wine Package Design

Practical Winery & Vineyard recently published an article written by Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty attorney Katja Loeffelholz. Katja’s article “What’s trending, how to capture it” discusses how technological advancements have permitted an evolution in wine labels, bottle shapes, closures and packaging designs.

One wine bottle can contain several protectable elements. Word mark, logos/images, taglines/slogans, color, configurations, label design, trade dress, product features and design patents are all protectable elements of wine packaging. Protecting these different element can build brand equity.

PWV Feb 2014

Katja is a registered attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

To learn more about protecting all aspects of intellectual property in your wine label and packaging please contact Katja Loeffelholz at [email protected].

Sonoma Conjunctive Labeling Law Applies to Wines Bottled on or after Jan. 1, 2014

Producers using the name of an AVA entirely within Sonoma County on your wine labels take note: California law requires you to include a “Sonoma County” designation for all wine bottled on or after January 1, 2014.

In 2010, the California legislature approved a new “conjunctive labeling” law that requires wines labeled with the name of an AVA that falls entirely within the boundaries of Sonoma County (Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, etc.) to also carry a “Sonoma County” designation.  Although the law, Cal. Bus & Prof. Code Sec. 25246, became effective on January 1, 2011, it only applies to wines that are bottled on or after January 1, 2014.  In other words, there is no need for wineries to re-label wines already bottled, labeled, and in inventory prior to January 1, 2014. A full text of the Sonoma County conjunctive labeling law is found below:

(a) Any wine labeled with an American Viticultural Area established pursuant to Part 9 (commencing with Section 9.1) of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, that is located entirely within a county of the 19th class, shall bear the designation “Sonoma County” on the label in a type size not smaller than two millimeters on containers of more than 187 milliliters or smaller than one millimeter on containers of 187 milliliters or less.
(b) The department may suspend or revoke the license of any person who violates this section.
(c) This section shall not apply to any wine labeled with a viticultural area appellation of origin established pursuant to Part 9 (commencing with Section 9.1) of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations when the name of the appellation includes the term “Sonoma County.”
(d) This section shall apply to wines bottled on or after January 1, 2014.

For more information or assistance on alcohol beverage labeling, contact John Trinidad ([email protected]).

This post is made available for general informational purposes only and none of the information provided should be considered to constitute legal advice

Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

Wine & Trademark Law: Creating, Protecting & Building Equity in Your Wine Brand

Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty attorney Katja Loeffelholz, a registered attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, recently presented “Creating, Protecting & Building Equity in your Wine Brand” at the Wine Industry Forum.  You can download a copy of Ms. Loeffelholz’s presentation here:
The presentation provides an introduction and overview of trademark law as it specifically applies to the wine industry.  It includes several examples of what aspects of a wine label, bottles and packaging can be protected.  In addition to trademarks, other things closely associated with brands — such as  slogans, colors, specific product features, designs and bottle configurations — are protectable assets.  
In addition, Ms. Loeffelholz’s presentation addresses what makes a strong mark; adopting and clearing a brand; trademark registration; enforcing your intellectual property rights; and how copyright in label designs and design patents in bottle shapes create additional brand equity.  The presentation also points out various pitfalls wine industry clients encounter in selecting and protecting their brand, and how to avoid them.  
For more information on trademark or patent matters, please contact Katja Loeffelholz at [email protected]
Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

TTB Ruling on Voluntary Serving Facts Statements for Alcohol Beverage Labels and Advertising

Last week, the TTB issued an interim policy (TTB Ruling No. 2013-2) allowing alcohol beverage producers to voluntarily use nutrient content statements –often referred to as  “Serving Facts statements ”– on labels and advertisements.  The TTB’s ruling is part of an almost decade-long review of the use of nutrient content statements on alcohol beverage labels and advertisements.
Exemplar from TTB of Serving Facts Statement for 750ML bottle of wine
(NOTE:  ABV and fl. oz of alcohol are optional)
Wine producers wishing to use Serving Fact statements on bottle labels should review the Ruling, and keep the following points in mind.
  1. Serving Facts statements include the following information:  serving size, the number of servings per container; and the number of calories, grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat per serving size.
  2. For wine of 7-16% ABV, the average serving size is 5 fluid ounces; for wine over 16% ABV but less than 24% ABV, the average serving size is 2.5 fluid ounces.
  3. The Serving Facts panel may include (but does not need to include) the percentage of alcohol by volume.  If the Serving Facts statement includes the ABV, then it may also include a statement of the number of ounces of alcohol per serving.  However, the inclusion of ounces of alcohol per serving does not relieve an industry member from their obligation to comply with other regulations regarding the disclosure of alcohol by volume.
  4. The tolerances and lab procedures for testing calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and fat content is laid out in TTB Procedure 2004-1.
  5. No new COLA is required for simply adding a Serving Fact panel to your already approved label.  In other words, you can simply add a neck or strip label to your already approved wine bottle label without submitting a new COLA application.
  6. The rulemaking process regarding the use of Serving Fact statements is still ongoing and producers should keep in mind that the TTB ruling is simply a temporary policy until the rulemaking process is completed.
The TTB’s decision to allow producers to include information regarding the fluid ounces of alcohol per serving is of particular interest to wine industry members.  The Wine Institute previously opposed the the inclusion of such information on Serving Fact statements, claiming that it would be confusing for consumers.  Other alcohol beverage industry members, primarily Diageo, have been outspoken in their support of alcohol-per-serving statements.
For more information or assistance on TTB labeling issues, contact John Trinidad ([email protected]).
This post is made available for general informational purposes only and none of the information provided should be considered to constitute legal advice
Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

Is a COLA necessary to Establish Lawful Use of a Wine Trademark?

In the United States, trademark rights may be established through the lawful use of a mark in association with goods in commerce.  When one is selling a product that is not subject to government regulation, such as t-shirts, it is fairly simple to make lawful use of a mark in commerce; you label the t-shirt with your trademark and you then offer it for sale via the Internet, a retail store, or some other sales outlet.  However, when it comes to products that are regulated by the government, such as wine, there is the additional question of whether a use is lawful if the seller of the wine has not complied with all of the government regulations necessary to sell the product.  For instance, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) requires that before a wine may be released from bond or Customs a party must first obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (“COLA”) for the label for such wine.  So, if a party has not obtained a COLA when it first sells its wine, can that party establish lawful use of the mark in commerce as of that date of first sale absent the COLA?
This issue was recently addressed in a proceeding before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) in the case of Churchill Cellars, Inc. v. Brian Graham, Opp. No. 91193930 (TTAB 2012).  Following is a link to the opinion: http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/ttabvue-91193930-OPP-23.pdf
In the Churchill case the TTAB found that even though the party claiming rights in the trademark at issue had not first obtained a COLA before making use of the mark on wine in commerce, such use was not necessarily unlawful so as to preclude the establishment of trademark rights.  The TTAB noted that it is not in a position to evaluate whether a party is in compliance with the regulatory schemes of other government agencies and absent some finding from a Court or an administrative agency such as TTB, TTAB cannot make a determination of whether the administrative failure to obtain a COLA made the use of the mark on the wine illegal.  The TTAB further noted that there was no evidence that the party would have been denied a COLA had it applied for one, and in fact a COLA was subsequently obtained for the label featuring the mark by the producer of the wine.  Therefore, TTAB concluded that it would not deny the party its claim of trademark rights simply because it failed to follow an administrative procedure.
This is good news in the sense that a party cannot be denied its trademark simply because it did not obtain a COLA. However, it can hardly be recommended that a party attempt to make use of a mark before obtaining a COLA simply to establish trademark rights.  Had the party opposing the trademark in this case raised the issue with TTB of the other party’s failure to obtain a COLA it is possible that there may have been a decision from TTB finding the sale of the wine to be unlawful thereby providing the USPTO TTAB with a basis for finding that the use of the mark was also unlawful.  Furthermore, the sale of wine without a COLA could result in significant penalties from TTB which could have a much more significant impact on a winery’s overall business.  Thus, while this decision may be positive from a trademark rights perspective, it should not act to encourage wineries to sell wine without a COLA simply to establish trademark rights.
From a legal analysis perspective, it should also be noted that this decision is precedent in the USPTO where decisions are made as to registration of trademarks.  However, the USPTO has no jurisdiction to stop a party from using a mark.  Such jurisdiction rests exclusively with the state and federal courts.  Furthermore, the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of CreAgri, Inc. v. Usana Health Services, Inc., 474 F.3d 626 (9th Cir. 2007) took an arguably broader view of the unlawful use issue in the context of labeling requirements for dietary supplements under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act such that it could be argued that the Ninth Circuit could reach a decision different than that reached by the TTAB in the Churchill Cellars case. 
Therefore, it seems apparent that it is still in a winery’s best interest to obtain a COLA before selling a wine rather than selling the wine without the COLA simply to establish trademark rights.  The better course of action to quickly establish trademark rights in a wine brand is to file an intent-to-use trademark application with the USPTO which establishes rights as of the day of filing without having to first use the mark in commerce, lawfully or unlawfully.
For any questions or assistance on trademark matters contact Scott Gerien at [email protected] 

Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

TTB Rule Changes for Documentation Supporting Organic Claims

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently announced changes to the supporting documentation required for claims that alcohol products are “100% Organic,” “Organic” and/or “Made with Organic” ingredients.  Currently, industry members submitting a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) application for alcohol products that include such organic claims must submit: (1) the organic certificate for the handling operation that makes the finished product; and, (2) the Accredited Certifying Agent’s (ACA) preview which contains the actual images of the product label and the stamp or signature of the certifying agent or control body/authority.   Under TTB’s new rule, a copy of the organic certificate is no longer required for products including any such “organic” claims, although COLA application must still include the ACA preview.  It should be noted, however, that for any labels that identify organic contents in an ingredient statement, organic certificates for each ingredient identified as organic must still be submitted with the COLA application.

For assistance with COLAs or more information about the TTB labeling changes discussed above, please contact Bahaneh Hobel at [email protected]

Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

Winery Exchange v. 7-Eleven – $2 million Supplier Dispute

An interesting case in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California recently came to our attention. Winery Exchange (“WX”), a private label wine and beer producer, has sued 7-Eleven Corporation (yes, that 7-Eleven ) alleging it breached a series of Private Label Beer Supplier Agreements to the tune of approximately $2.0 million. What piqued our interest was that WX sought a Right to Attach Order (“RTAO”) against 7-Eleven  as part of its case. An RTAO is a provisional remedy whereby a plaintiff in a breach of contract case can attach (i.e., freeze) a certain amount of the assets of the defendant if certain statutory requirements are met. Among the requirements for an RTAO are that the amount of damages sought be “certain” and that the attachment itself be sought for a “proper purpose.” Typically, this means that the amount of damages sought be easily ascertainable by referring to the contract at issue and that attachment be sought due to legitimate concerns about the defendant’s financial ability to ultimately satisfy any judgment entered in the action. According to Lex Vini’s sources present at the February 23, 2012 hearing on WX’s Application for RTAO, the Judge found there was insufficient evidence on these two key points to grant WX’s Application, and accordingly denied it. However, this case is far from over as these parties still must battle over the alleged $2.0 million breach. Stay tuned.

For more information or assistance on litigation matters in the alcohol beverage industry contact Dave Balter at [email protected]

Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

TTB Issues Guidance on Changes to Personalized Labels, Just in Time for The Holidays!

Producers that create personalized labels for consumers (as opposed to labels made for retail or wholesale customers other than the ultimate consumers) have now been provided with guidance from the TTB regarding what changes to the COLAs for such personalized labels require approval from the TTB.  For personalized labels, TTB had previously permitted the holder of an approved COLA to change items such as salutations, names, and event dates on the label without applying for a new COLA, but did not allow changes to the artwork or graphics on personalized labels without resubmission of the labels for approval.  TTB has revised its position on this matter and now permits changes to the graphics or artwork on a previously approved personalized label without having to apply for a new certificate of label approval.
If you want to retain the flexibility to make changes to the personalized labeling information without submitting new applications for label approval, you should follow the steps included in the TTB advisory: 
1)      Initially, you should apply for a COLA that will act as a template and will include a label or labels that, at a minimum, contain all mandatory information required by the applicable regulations, as well as any other information on the label that is not part of the personalized label.
2)      The application should also include (either in item 19 of the paper application, or in the special wording section of the COLAs Online application), a description of the specific personalized information that may change.  For example, you could include the following in your application: “The graphics, salutations, dates, and artwork presented on this label may be changed to personalize this label.” For bottles etched with personalized information, the application must also note that personalized information will be etched on the bottle. The label submitted with the COLA may contain a “blank” area where customized artwork or information will appear when the actual labels are printed.
The TTB’s approval of the personalized label COLA will include the following qualification: “The approval of this COLA covers this label and any additions, deletions or changes in graphics, salutations, congratulatory dates and names, and artwork to personalize the label as indicated on the application. This approval to change the personalizing information does not permit the addition of any information that discusses either the alcohol beverage or characteristics of the alcohol beverage or that is inconsistent with or in violation of the provisions of 27 CFR parts 4, 5, 7 or 16, as applicable, or any other applicable provision of law or regulations.”  Always remember that although you may be permitted to make changes to an approved personalized label that are consistent with the above qualification, you are not permitted to change any of the mandatory label information, such as the brand name or the class or type designation.  Further, as noted by the qualification, any discussion of the alcohol beverage product or its characteristics is not covered by the authorization to add or change personalized information to the label.
The TTB did make clear that this revision regarding changes to personalized labels does not apply to customized private labels created for purchasers other than the ultimate consumer. Such private labels, typically made for a retailer or wholesaler, may bear a brand name or artwork that is specific to that purchaser who is buying the product in order to sell it to consumers remain subject to the same requirements as other labels. The TTB also clarified that this advisory did not apply to or otherwise permit those changes that are generally prohibited, such as changes to approved labels that are made after the container bearing the label has been removed from the bottling premises or from customs custody and shipped in interstate commerce.
Finally, when submitting personalized labels for approval, remember that, other than as set forth in this advisory, personalized information and artwork on labels are subject to all the same regulations, including the regulations regarding prohibited practices, as information and graphics on non-personalized labels. You may not add personalized statements, graphics, pictorial or emblematic representations that are not allowed on labels that undergo TTB review.
For assistance with COLAs or more information about the TTB Advisory above, please contact Bahaneh Hobel at [email protected]  
Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

TTB Shifts COLA Compliance Obligations to Applicants to Streamline Process

In a sign of TTB’s efforts to streamline and expedite the COLAs review process, the TTB announced on May 3, 2011 that it will no longer evaluate labels for purposes of ensuring that the labels conform to legibility and type size requirements (including characters per inch and contrasting background) contained in the code. TTB will continue to review all labels to ensure they contain all of the mandatory information and do not contain any prohibited information.  According to the TTB, this change was made to both “assist alcohol beverage industry members to move their products into the marketplace more quickly” and to allow TTB to use its currently limited resources more efficiently.  As many on-line COLAs applicants have no doubt experienced, TTB had previously spent a lot of time and resources returning applications for correction due to problems with image clarity or distortion, which resulted in many processing delays for COLAs applicants.  While TTB will no longer return applications for correction due to these issues,  industry members remain responsible for and must continue to ensure that the mandatory information on the actual labels is displayed in the correct type size, number of characters per inch, and on a contrasting background in accordance with the TTB labeling regulations.  This change in policy should come as good news to the many industry members that have seen an increase in the processing times for COLAs over the past year, which was due in large part to a reduction in the COLAs staff at TTB.  However, it also shifts the responsibility for compliance onto the COLA applicant meaning that the issuance of the COLA is no guarantee of compliance and COLAs may be more readily revoked if non-compliance is demonstrated to TTB by an objecting party.

For more information or assistance with COLAs or other licensing matters, please contact [email protected]

Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

Casella Wines Files Amended Complaint Accusing The Wine Group of Intentionally Infringing its Yellow Tail Design Trademark

In October of 2010, Casella Wines, the producers of YELLOW TAIL wine, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York against The Wine Group claiming trademark infringement of Casella’s federally-registered wallaby design mark featured on Casella’s YELLOW TAIL wine (see below):

based on The Wine Group’s use of a kangaroo design for its LITTLE ROO brand of wine (see below).

On February 22, 2011. Casella filed an amended complaint alleging that a second brand from The Wine Group called KANGA RESERVE, featured another kangaroo design that also infringed Casella’s wallaby design (see below).

In addition to claiming likelihood of consumer confusion based on the the parties’ respective marsupial designs, Casella also claimed that the overall packaging of The Wine Group’s kangaroo wines, or “trade dress,” was confusingly similar to that of Casella’s YELLOW TAIL wine.
Casella has also alleged that The Wine Group adopted its kangaroo design to intentionally trade upon the fame and recognition of the YELLOW TAIL brand. Casella has additionally accused The Wine Group of taking efforts to ensure that its kangaroo wines are stocked side-by-side with YELLOW TAIL wine so that consumers believe The Wine Group’s wine is a second-tier discounted version of YELLOW TAIL.
The test in a trademark infringement case is: will consumers be confused between the two brands and believe that they are somehow related, or emanate from the same source, when viewing the respective packages in their entirety, without the benefit of having the other package for side-by-side comparison? 
Therefore, Casella must demonstrate that consumers will believe the parties’ wines are related even though the products carry different brand names.  While this is not an easy burden, it is not unprecedented as demonstrated in the case of Russell v. Caesar, 62 USPQ2d 1125 (N.D.Cal. 2001).  In Russell, the brands RABBIT RIDGE and RABBIT HILL were found to be confusingly similar despite utilizing different rabbit designs on the label.  The Court found that consumers would recognize the term “rabbit” as a manifestation of plaintiff’s RABBIT RIDGE mark.  As a result, upon seeing another wine featuring the word “rabbit” consumers would be confused, even if such wine featured a noticeably different rabbit design than that featured on the RABBIT RIDGE wine.
If Casella can prove that its YELLOW TAIL brand and logo is recognized by the public as “the marsupial wine,” then it may be able to stop others, including The Wine Group, from using any wallaby/kangaroo-like design on wine as it would represent a manifestation of Casella’s mark.
However, this may be where Casella finds the most challenge in proving its case as a review of the Trademark Register for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office demonstrates that there are actually several other trademarks registered for wine that feature an image of a kangaroo, including:  BOOLAROO and design of kangaroo (Reg. No. 3,090,622); BROO and kangaroo design (Reg. No. 3,833,886); LEAP OF FAITH and kangaroo design (Reg. No. 3,401,996); R’OZ and kangaroo design (Reg. No. 3,163,740); and WINE AUSTRALIA and kangaroo design (Reg. No. 3,424,434) owned by the Australia Wine and Brandy Corporation, Australia’s government body for the regulation and marketing of Australian wine.
In addition to these other “kangaroo” uses on wine, Casella is also faced with The Wine Group’s assertion that it has used the LITTLE ROO kangaroo design for over two years, an assertion supported by the dates of the COLAs issued to The Wine Group.  If Casella has no evidence of actual consumer confusion, Casella will also have to explain why the absence of such confusion during this two-year period does not suggest the absence of any likelihood of confusion.
For further information or assistance on trademark matters contact Scott Gerien at [email protected].

Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

TTB Eliminates Expedite Requests and Informal Reviews for COLA Applications

On February 2, TTB posted a bulletin on its COLA and formula approval process.  Due to increases in label and formula submissions and economic impacts on the agency, TTB will no longer accept “Expedite Requests” or “Informal Reviews” effective immediately.  TTB is cautioning applicants to allow for a 90-day application review process.  The agency is encouraging the use of its e-application program, which will allow processing to occur in approximately half the time as paper applications.  The COLA Online system has been upgraded to allow status tracking and TTB has released a new Formulas Online program for drafting, submitting and tracking formula applications. 
For more information or assistance on TTB rules and procedure contact Carol Kingrey Ritter at [email protected]
Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

Most Interesting New Wine Trademark Applications Filed in December 2010

Each month the editors of Lex Vini will select the most interesting wine trademark applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the prior month.  In keeping with the broad meaning of “interesting,” the marks may be selected because they have significant business interest, they demonstrate potential new themes in branding, or simply because they are quirky and different.

In December of 2010, there were two themes which appeared to have some popularity for trademarks in the wine sector: lust and candy (surprising for Christmas considering these are usually reserved for Valentine’s Day). 

In the lust category, there were filings for NAUGHTY VIRGIN (App. Ser. No. 85/202,467 by Pazdar Beverage Company), LIVING IN ZIN (App. Ser. No. 85/194,073) and PEEP SHOW (App. Ser. No. 85/189,663 by Terravant Wine Company).

In the candy category, there were filings for the marks CHOCOLATE CUVEE (App. Ser. No. 85/203,314 by One Plus Two, Inc.), LOLLIPOP (App. Ser. No. 85/199,787 by Paterno Imports Ltd.) and ITALIAN CHOCOLATE (App. Ser. No. 85/200,611 by Rocland Estate Pty Ltd).

Also, in the “odd combination, but undoubtedly distinctive” category of wine trademarks were STEAK AND POTATOES (App. Ser. No. 85/189,627 by Terravant Wine Company) and FALCON AND HIPPO (App. Ser. No. 85/205,742 by Clare Ranch LLC).

In an apparent attempt to capitalize on the shift in Congressional leadership there was also RIGHT WING RED (App. Ser. No. 85/203,291 by One Plus Two, Inc.), in what might be an homage to Jersey’s favorite mobster was TATTOO TONY’S from Atlantic Bottling, LLC in Ocean, NJ (App. Ser. No. 85/208,584), and in what might be marks “inspired by” Bay Area rock bands there was GRAPEFUL RED (App. Ser. No. 85/191,662 by R.H. Winery LLC) and RHUBY DOOBY (App. Ser. No. 85/206,440 by Guinan Family Winery & Vineyard, Inc.)(although this last one could also be a tribute to 70s cartoon icon Scooby Doo — “rhuby dooby doo”).

Never boring in the world of wine trademarks.

For assistance on your trademark matters contact Scott Gerien at [email protected]

Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

TTB Extends Deadline for Comments on Clarifying Use of Winemaking Terms

On December 29, 2010, TTB extended the comment period for the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Use of Various Winemaking Terms on Wine Labels and in Advertisements, aka Notice No. 109.  The comment period will end on March 4, 2011.  Notice No. 109 seeks wine industry input on TTB’s proposal to define terms used on wine labels and in wine advertising such as “Estate,” “Estates,” “Estate grown,” “Proprietor grown,” “Vintner grown,” “Vineyard,” “Orchard,” “Farm” and “Ranch.”  

All comments and documents associated with Notice No. 109 can be viewed at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=TTB-2010-0006.  

Comments can be posted online at:

Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

New California Law Requiring Use of "Sonoma County" on Wine with Sonoma County AVAs In Effect … Kind Of

January 1, 2011, was the effective date of California Business & Professions Code Section 25246 which mandates that any wine label carrying the name of an AVA located entirely within Sonoma County must also bear the appellation “Sonoma County” on the label in a font no smaller than two millimeters on packages larger than 187 ml, and no smaller than one millimeter on packages of 187 ml or less.  However, even though the law is now officially on the books, it only applies to wine bottled on or after January 1, 2014.  This prospective date was selected in order to give wineries sufficient time to prepare their packaging for the transition.

While this law is based on similar laws for Napa Valley, Paso Robles and Lodi, it differs from those laws in that it does not require that “Sonoma County” be used in close conjunction with the name of the smaller Sonoma County AVA, nor that the label font for the “Sonoma County” appellation be comparable in size to the label font of the smaller AVA.

For the full text of the law, click on the following link:


Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com