Wine Labels

Using Washington State and an AVA on your wine label

With the passage of SHB 1812 in 2009, if a winery claims only  "Washington" as the appellation of origin, the  wine will need to contain at least 95% Washington grapes under this new state law.  Washington grapes could be from (a) an AVA located entirely in Washington, (b) an AVA located partly in Washington, or (c) a non-AVA location in  Washington.  For purposes of the Washington law, grapes grown in Oregon but within a cross-border AVA--e.g., the  Columbia Valley, Columbia Gorge or Walla Walla AVAs--would count toward  the Washington content requirement.  However, under federal law, to use the name "Washington", the wine would need to contain at least 75% Washington grapes, and cross-border AVA grapes would not qualify for that purpose.  So, for example, to use only the name "Washington" as the appellation of origin, a wine could not be made from 95% Walla Walla AVA grapes grown in the Oregon portion of that  AVA.

If a winery claims  "Washington" and an AVA, for example,  "Walla Walla", as the appellations of origin,  the wine will need to contain at least 95% Washington grapes (for state law purposes) and 85% Walla Walla AVA grapes and 75% Washington grapes (for federal purposes).  For example, if a wine contains 85% Walla Walla AVA grapes, then in order to satisfy the new Washington law requirement, an additional 10% of the wine must be from (a), (b) or  (c) above. However, again, the winery would be required to comply with the federal law requiring 75% state content in order to use "Washington" on the  label.  

Finally, if a winery claims only an AVA, for example, "Walla Walla", as  the appellation of origin, then it would be required to satisfy only the 85% AVA content requirement under federal  law.

Click here for information from the T.T.B. regarding wine labeling.


Information Sheet on New Organic Labeling Policies

Through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), TTB has been charged with implementing the organic program on behalf of AMS/USDA. TTB would like to notify the industry that AMS, in the interest of clear disclosure to the consumer, has changed the labeling policies for wines which contain both organic and non-organic grapes.

Labeling Wine Containing Organic and Non-Organic Grapes

Wine labeled with a "Made with Organic Ingredients" statement, and which contains organic and non-organic grapes, must indicate the presence of non-organic grapes in the "Made with Organic…" statement on the label. The following variations to this statement are acceptable:

• "Made with Organic and Non-Organic Grapes";

• "Made with Organic [variety] Grapes and Non-Organic [variety] Grapes";

• "Made with _% Organic Grapes and _% Grapes";

• "Made with _% Organic [variety] Grapes and _% Non-Organic [variety] Grapes"

In addition, wines restricted to an "Organic Ingredients" statement must indicate the presence of any non-organic grapes in the "Organic Ingredients" Statement. An example of such a statement is "Ingredients: Organic Merlot grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, tartaric acid." As noted below, such a wine will also have to bear a Percentage statement.

Percentage Statements on Wine Restricted to an "Organic Ingredients" Statement

When a wine is restricted to an "Organic Ingredients" statement and contains non-organic ingredients such as in the example above, a Percentage Statement such as "55% Organic Ingredients" must also be present on the label. The Percentage Statement must appear on the information panel in proximity to the "Organic Ingredients" Statement. If a wine bears an "Organic Ingredients" Statement in which no disclosure of non-organic ingredients is made, such as "Ingredients: Organic Grapes," then 100% of the ingredients in such wine must be organic.

However, when 100% of the ingredients are organic on a wine restricted to an "Organic Ingredients" statement, a Percentage Statement is prohibited in order to avoid consumer confusion with products meeting the "100% Organic Wine" standard.

For more information on TTB Organic Wine labeling visit http://www.ttb.gov/alfd/alfd_organic.shtml