Proposed TTB Labeling Rules to Close AVA Loophole

If a winery has a wine that will only be sold in the state that it is bottled in (for instance, to be sold only out of its tasting room), it needs to apply to the TTB for a certificate of exemption from label approval (CEFLA). However, under current TTB regulations, wines with a CEFLA are exempted from rules concerning the use of vintage, variety, and appellation, which do apply to wines with a COLA. This has led to misleading labels indicating that the wine is produced locally, when in fact it comes from out-of-state grapes and out-of-state fermentation (as this article bemoans).

The TTB is addressing this loophole in a proposed rule change, currently going through the rule making process. The proposed rule would extend labeling rules affecting COLAs to CEFLA wines as well. This would mean that in order to use an AVA on the label, the wine must be "fully finished" in the same state where the AVA is located. 

Under this new rule, if a Texas winery imports Napa Valley grapes to crush and process on-site in Texas, the only appellation that could be used is Napa Valley or California--the specific AVA of the grapes could not be listed on the label. Similarly, if the Texas winery imports bulk wine "fully finished" in California, it could not indicate that it produced the wine, but only state that it received and bottled the wine.

A further explanation of the proposed rule change can be read here.

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