[Federal Register: June 22, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 119)]

[Rules and Regulations]               

[Page 33850-33853]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]





Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

27 CFR Part 9

[TD ATF-399; Re: Notice No. 853]

RIN 1512-AA07


Diablo Grande Viticultural Area (97-104)

AGENCY: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Treasury.

ACTION: Treasury decision, final rule.


SUMMARY: This Treasury decision establishes a viticultural area located 

in the western foothills of Stanislaus County, California, to be known 

as ``Diablo Grande'' under 27 CFR part 9. The viticultural area 

occupies over 45 square miles, or approximately 30,000 acres. This 

viticultural area is the result of a petition submitted by Dr. Vincent 

E. Petrucci, Sc.D., on behalf of the Diablo Grande Limited Partnership, 

the principal property owner within the viticultural area and 

developers of the Diablo Grande Resort Community.

EFFECTIVE DATE: August 21, 1998.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David W. Brokaw, Regulations Division, 

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, 

Washington, DC 20226, (202) 927-8199.



    On August 23, 1978, ATF published Treasury Decision ATF-53 (43 FR 

37672, 54624) revising regulations in 27 CFR part 4. These regulations 

allow the establishment of definitive viticultural areas. The 

regulations allow the name of an approved viticultural area to be used 

as an appellation of origin on wine labels and in wine advertisements. 

On October 2, 1979, ATF published Treasury Decision ATF-60 (44 FR 

56692) which added a new part 9 to 27 CFR, for the listing of approved 

American viticultural areas, the names of which may be used as 

appellations of origin.

    Section 4.25a(e)(1), title 27, CFR, defines an American 

viticultural area as a delimited grape-growing region distinguishable 

by geographical features, the boundaries of which have been delineated 

in subpart C of part 9.

    Section 4.25a(e)(2) outlines the procedure for proposing an 

American viticultural area. Any interested person may petition ATF to 

establish a grape-growing region as a viticultural area. The petition 

should include:

    (a) Evidence that the name of the proposed viticultural area is 

locally and/or nationally known as referring to the area specified in 

the petition;

    (b) Historical or current evidence that the boundaries of the 

viticultural area are as specified in the petition;

    (c) Evidence relating to the geographical characteristics (climate, 

soil, elevation, physical features, etc.) which distinguish the 

viticultural features of the proposed area from surrounding areas;

    (d) A description of the specific boundaries of the viticultural 

area, based on features which can be found on United States Geological 

Survey (U.S.G.S.) maps of the largest applicable scale; and

    (e) A copy (or copies) of the appropriate U.S.G.S. map(s) with the 

boundaries prominently marked.


    Dr. Vincent E. Petrucci, Sc.D., petitioned ATF on behalf of the 

Diablo Grande Limited Partnership, for the establishment of a new 

viticultural area located in the western foothills of Stanislaus 

County, California, to be known as ``Diablo Grande.'' The Diablo Grande 

Limited Partnership is the principal property owner within the proposed 

viticultural area and the developer of the Diablo Grande Resort 

Community. The viticultural area occupies over 45 square miles, or 

approximately 30,000 acres. Currently there are 35 acres of grapes 

planted with an additional 17 acres planned for 1997. The petitioner 

claims that the area can accommodate an additional 2700 acres of future 

grape plantings.


    A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Notice No. 853 (62 FR 34027) was 

published in the Federal Register on June 24, 1997, requesting comments 

from all interested persons concerning the proposed ``Diablo Grande'' 

viticultural area. No comments were received in response to this 


Evidence That the Name of the Area Is Locally or Nationally Known

    ``Diablo Grande,'' is the name of the destination resort and 

residential community that occupies the viticultural area. The 

petitioner stated that this name was given to the area because of its 

proximity to Mount Diablo, the highest peak of the Pacific Coast 

mountain range. Mount Diablo is located 38-40 miles due north of the 

proposed area. The petitioner emphasized the fact that the proposed 

area lies in the Diablo Mountain Range, which extends from Mount Diablo 

State Park in Contra Costa County to the south of and beyond the 

proposed ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area located in Stanislaus 

County. There is evidence that the name, ``Diablo Grande,'' has become 

associated with the area by both the residents of California, and 

perhaps the nation, as a result of the development of the destination 

resort and residential community. The resort community has been in 

existence since the early 1990s. As evidence that the area is known as 

``Diablo Grande,'' the petitioner submitted copies of 21 newspaper 

articles that discuss the development of the resort. With the exception 

of the Golf Course Report, Alexandria, Virginia, all of the articles 

are from local California newspapers.

    There is also evidence that the area occupied by the resort was 

historically known as the ``Oak Flats Valley.'' A working ranch, known 

as the Oak Flats Valley Ranch once occupied this land. Many of the 

newspaper articles submitted by the petitioner refer to the area as the 

``Oak Flats Valley Ranch'' or the ``Oak Flats Valley.'' No evidence was 

provided that the area was tied to Mount Diablo prior to the 

development of the resort. Accordingly, ATF solicited comments in 

Notice No. 853 on whether the use of the name ``Diablo Grande'' was 

proper for this area. No comments were received on this issue. 

Consequently, based on the evidence submitted by the petitioner, ATF 

believes the name ``Diablo Grande'' is now associated with the area.

[[Page 33851]]

Historical or Current Evidence That the Boundaries of the 

Viticultural Area Are as Specified in the Petition

    As evidence that the boundaries of the viticultural area are as 

specified in the petition, the petitioner submitted a map titled, 

``Stanislaus County Vicinity Map'' drawn by Thompson-Hysell Engineers. 

A more detailed map entitled ``Concept Plan Diablo Grande,'' prepared 

by T.R.G. Land Resources, Inc., was also submitted. In addition, the 

petitioner submitted a newspaper article from The Modesto Bee dated 

June 28, 1993, showing the boundary area (map) in respect to Interstate 

Highway 5, the city of Patterson, the City of Newman, and the Santa 

Clara County line. The border for ``Diablo Grande'' is illustrated on 

the ``Stanislaus County Vicinity Map'' and the maps in the newspaper 

article giving the location within Stanislaus County, California. The 

Modesto Bee article describes the site as being located about five 

miles west of Interstate 5 and seven miles southwest of Patterson 

consisting of gently sloping hills to steep ridges in the Diablo Range, 

an eastern arm of the Coast Ranges. The article further describes the 

site as encompassing portions of three major watersheds--Orestimba, 

Crow, and Salado Creeks.

Evidence Relating to the Geographical Features (Climate, Soil, 

Elevation, Physical Features, Etc.) Which Distinguish Viticultural 

Features of the Area From Surrounding Areas


    The petitioner provided a table of heat summation in degree days 

illustrating the contrast in temperature between the viticultural area 

and areas immediately outside the viticultural area. The data was taken 

from four separate weather stations located in Newman (10 miles east), 

Westley (10 miles north), Tracy (25 miles north) and Modesto (30 miles 

northeast). The petitioner chose these areas because they were the 

closest areas with climate records. According to the table, the 

``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area is 384 degree days warmer than 

Modesto, 191 degree days cooler than Newman, 243 degree days cooler 

that Tracy, and 1022 degree days cooler than Westley.

    The petitioner submitted a four year record of rainfall spanning 

from 1992 to 1995 for the viticultural area. The petitioner also 

provided a table illustrating the contrast in monthly and annual 

rainfall in inches between the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area and 

areas immediately outside of the viticultural area. The rainfall data 

shows that the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area has an annual 

rainfall 13.8% to 22.6% higher that the other four areas (Newman, 

Westley, Modesto, and Tracy). The higher rainfall in the viticultural 

area is due to its higher elevation (800 to 2600 feet) as compared to 

the other four areas which range in elevation from 40 to 300 feet. 

Rainfall generally occurs during the winter in all five areas, with 

little or no rainfall during the summer months.

    Due to its elevation and the protective mountains, the viticultural 

area lies above the fog belt in contrast with areas immediately outside 

of the viticultural area. In the Newman, Patterson, and Westley areas, 

fog is a common occurrence throughout the rainy season in all but the 

foothill regions.

    The predominant wind directions are from northeast to northwest in 

the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area due to the orientation of the 

many mini-valleys encompassing the area and the wind deflection caused 

by the hills surrounding these mini-valleys. This is a unique feature 

of the viticultural area's micro-climate as contrasted with the Newman/

Westley areas where the reverse is true with the predominant winds 

coming from the northwest, typical of the flat lands outside of the 

viticultural area's perimeter.


    The soil characteristics of the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area 

are not only different and distinct from those of the lower foothills 

and Central Valley to the east and north, but they are also different 

from other areas of the Diablo Range to the south and west of the 

viticultural area.

    The petitioner provided a general description of the soils in the 

form of a report entitled, ``Diablo Grande Specific Plan Draft 

Environmental Impact Report'' prepared by LSA Associates, Inc., Pt. 

Richmond, California for the Stanislaus County Department of Planning 

and Community Development. The petitioner also submitted a report from 

the Soil Conservation Service which recently mapped soils within the 

viticultural area and identified 16 major soil types.

    Extensive soil sampling and detailed analysis (both physical and 

chemical) have been conducted at two different locations within the 

viticultural area. In December of 1989, thirteen samples were taken at 

various sites in the vicinity of the Oak Flat Ranch. In May of 1996, 

fourteen samples from Isom Ranch were collected and analyzed. A copy of 

this analysis was included with the petition.

    These reports show that a majority of the soils found in the 

``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area are composed of the following 

series listed in approximate order of occurrence: Arburua loam, Wisflat 

sandy loam, Contra Costa clay loam, and San Timoteo sandy loam, with 

lesser amounts of Zacharias clay loam and gravelly clay loam. Most of 

the soils are complexes made up of two or more of these series as well 

as occasional rock outcrops of exposed sandstone and shale. In these 

complexes, the soil series are so intimately intermixed that it is not 

practical to separate them geographically.

    The reports show that the soils within the viticultural area 

typically have slopes ranging from 30% to 75% and elevations from 400 

to 2700 feet. An exception is the relatively minor Zacharias series 

which has slopes of 2% to 5% and elevations of 200 to 400 feet. The 

soils in the viticultural area are derived from sandstone and vary from 

shallow to very deep with most of the complexes showing moderate depth. 

The soils are well-drained to somewhat excessively-drained. 

Permeability varies from slow to moderately rapid, surface run-off 

rates are rapid and, according to the petitioner, the potential for 

water erosion can be severe. The petitioner provided a table giving a 

complete description of the characteristics for each soil type.

    In contrast to the soils of the viticultural area, the soils of the 

surrounding areas are largely composed of different soil series with 

different characteristics, including elevations and slopes. The 

petitioner provided an exhibit defining the various soil series and 

soil types, and an exhibit with aerial photographic maps showing soil 

type location by map numbers.

    While most of the soil series which are found within the ``Diablo 

Grande'' viticultural area can also be found in the nearby surrounding 

areas, these series represent very small portions of the total in those 

surrounding areas. Additionally, many of the soil series which make up 

the major soil types of the surrounding areas are not found at all 

within the viticultural area. These soil types include Capay clay, 

Vernalis clay loam, Stomar clay loam, Chaqua clay loam, Calla clay 

loam, Carbona clay, Alo clay, Vaquero clay, El Salado loam and fine 

sandy loam. These series are found to the east and north of the 

viticultural area. Most of these series have slopes of 0% to 2% and 

elevations of 25 to 400 feet with four of these series having slopes up 

to 8%, 15%, 30%, and 50% respectively and elevations from 300 to 1600 


    There is another major difference between the ``Diablo Grande''

[[Page 33852]]

viticultural area soils and most of those to the east and north. The 

``Diablo Grande'' soils are residual soils formed from sedimentary 

deposits of sandstone and calcareous sandstone while most of the 

surrounding soils are from alluvial deposits of mixed rock parent 

material having lower slopes and elevations.

    The area surrounding the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area to the 

west and south includes the Orestimba Creek Canyon beyond which lies a 

more rugged portion of the Diablo Range. Much of the land directly west 

of the viticultural area is part of the Henry W. Coe State Park and 

although this area includes some of the same soil series as the 

``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area, there are also many new series 

including Gonzaga clay, Honker clay, Franciscan clay loam, Vellecitos 

clay, Gaviota gravelly loam, Henneke clay, Hentine loam, and Hytop 

clay. These soils generally have slopes of 30% to 75% and elevations of 

700 to 3300 feet.


    The geography of the viticultural area sets it apart from the 

surrounding areas in several respects. Three main water courses 

traverse the area: Salado Creek, Crow Creek, and Orestimba Creek. 

Salado and Crow Creek traverse the area from the vicinity of Mikes Peak 

along the western boundary of the viticultural area, northeast and east 

respectively, toward Interstate 5. Orestimba Creek traverses the 

southwestern and southern boundary line as it flows eastward.

    Current vineyard plantings are at elevations ranging from 1000 feet 

mean sea level (msl) near the vineyard located in the vicinity of the 

Oak Flat Ranch to 1800 feet msl at the Isom Ranch. These vineyard site 

elevations are the highest elevations where grapes are grown in 

Stanislaus County. This contrasts with other Stanislaus County 

vineyards outside the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area where grapes 

are grown at elevations ranging from 70 to 90 feet at Modesto to 300 to 

340 feet at the base of the foothills near Patterson where a newly 

planted vineyard (1996) of 90 acres exists approximately 4.2 miles east 

of the viticultural area boundary. The petitioner distinguishes this 

vineyard site from the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area by noting 

that the Patterson site is 340 feet lower and has a soil type which is 

all Vernalis-Zacharias complex with 0% to 2% slopes. These conditions 

do not exist in the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area.

    The topographic features of the viticultural area include many 

``mini-valleys'' as a result of its mountainous structure. This 

provides several attributes not found in the vineyards planted on the 

flat lands in the interior of Stanislaus County. Grapes grown on the 

terraced hillsides of the viticultural area are subject to a 

mesoclimate (or topoclimate or site climate) which can vary from the 

general macroclimate due to differences mainly in elevation and slope. 

Thus, site selection becomes an important feature when working with 

this type of topography as contrasted to the flat lands of 1% to 2% 

slopes. There is the opportunity to grow grapes on slopes (15%-30%) 

that have western, eastern, southern, or northern exposure or any 

combination of all four slope exposures.

    The petitioner provided a diagram purporting to show how 

mesoclimates are influenced by sloping contour topography. The southern 

and western slopes receive a greater exposure to sunshine and, 

therefore, accumulate more heat units than the northern or eastern 

slopes. It is this difference in sunshine and heat that makes the 

viticultural area's mesoclimate. According to the petitioner, grapes 

grown on all four slope exposures, when harvested together and crushed 

as one lot, make wines that differ considerably from grapes grown on 

the lower elevation flat lands. The petitioner claims that this is the 

key factor which makes the viticultural area wines distinct from those 

of the surrounding area. In support of this claim the petitioner 

provided several letters from staff members at the Viticulture and 

Enology Research Center, California State University, Fresno and 

winemakers. These letters indicate that wines made from grapes grown in 

the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area exhibit characteristics 

distinctive enough to deserve consideration for a specific appellation. 

ATF has concluded that there is sufficient evidence to establish the 

``Diablo Grande,'' area as a distinct viticultural area under 27 CFR 

part 9.

Geographic Brand Names

    A brand name of viticultural significance may not be used unless 

the wine meets the appellation of origin requirements for the 

geographic area named. See 27 CFR 4.39(i). Consequently, establishment 

of this viticultural area would preclude the use of the term ``Diablo 

Grande'' as a brand name for a wine, unless the wine can claim ``Diablo 

Grande'' as an appellation of origin, or complies with one of the 

exceptions in the regulation.


    The boundary of the ``Diablo Grande'' viticultural area may be 

found on four United States Geological Survey Quadrangle 7.5 minute 

series (Topographic) maps, entitled Patterson Quadrangle, California--

Stanislaus Co., Copper Mtn. Quadrangle, California--Stanislaus Co., 

Wilcox Ridge, California--Stanislaus Co., and Orestimba Peak, 

California--Stanislaus Co.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 

Chapter 35, and its implementing regulations, 5 CFR part 1320, do not 

apply to this final rule because no requirement to collect information 

is imposed.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    It is hereby certified that this regulation will not have a 

significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 

The establishment of a viticultural area is neither an endorsement nor 

approval by ATF of the quality of wine produced in the area, but rather 

an identification of an area that is distinct from surrounding areas. 

ATF believes that the establishment of viticultural areas merely allows 

wineries to more accurately describe the origin of their wines to 

consumers, and helps consumers identify the wines they purchase. Thus, 

any benefit derived from the use of a viticultural area name is the 

result of the proprietor's own efforts and consumer acceptance of wines 

from a particular area. No new requirements are imposed. Accordingly, a 

regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.

Executive Order 12866

    It has been determined that this regulation is not a significant 

regulatory action as defined in Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, 

this final rule is not subject to the analysis required by this 

Executive Order.

Drafting Information

    The principal author of this document is David W. Brokaw, 

Regulations Branch, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 9

    Administrative practices and procedures, Consumer protection, 

Viticultural areas, and Wine.

Authority and Issuance

    Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, part 9, American 

Viticultural Areas, is amended as follows:

[[Page 33853]]


    Paragraph 1. The authority citation for part 9 continues to read as 


    Authority: 27 U.S.C. 205.

Subpart C--Approved American Viticultural Areas

    Par. 2. Subpart C is amended by adding Sec. 9.156 to read as 


Sec. 9.156  Diablo Grande.

    (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this 

section is ``Diablo Grande''.

    (b) Approved maps. The appropriate maps for determining the 

boundary of the Diablo Grande viticultural area are the following four 

U.S.G.S. Quadrangle 7.5 Minute Series (Topographic) maps. They are 


    (1) Patterson Quadrangle, California--Stanislaus Co., 1953 

(Photorevised 1971, Photoinspected 1978);

    (2) Copper Mtn. Quadrangle, California--Stanislaus Co., 1953 (Field 

Check 1956, Aerial Photo 1971);

    (3) Wilcox Ridge, California--Stanislaus Co., 1956 (Photorevised 


    (4) Orestimba Peak, California--Stanislaus Co., 1955 (Photorevised 


    (c) Boundary. The Diablo Grande viticultural area is located in the 

western foothills of Stanislaus County, California. The beginning point 

is at Reservoir Spillway 780 in section 8, Township 6 South, Range 7 

East (T. 6S., R. 7E.) on the Patterson Quadrangle U.S.G.S. map.

    (1) Then proceed northwest to Salt Grass Springs to the point where 

the 1000 foot contour line crosses the northern section line of section 

9, T. 6S., R. 6E., on the Copper Mtn., Quadrangle U.S.G.S. map.

    (2) Then proceed due south past Copper Mountain in section 16, T. 

6S., R. 6E., to Mikes Peak in section 4, T. 7S., R. 6E., on the Wilcox 

Ridge Quadrangle U.S.G.S. map.

    (3) Then proceed due west to Oristimba Creek in section 6, T. 7S., 

R. 6E.

    (4) Then proceed following Orestimba Creek south/southeast and then 

east/northeast to the point where Orestimba Creek meets Bench Mark #340 

in section 28, T. 7S., R. 7E., on the Orestimba Peak Quadrangle 

U.S.G.S. map.

    (5) Then proceed northwest to the point of beginning at Reservoir 

Spillway 780 in section 8, T. 6S., R. 7E.

    Signed: May 11, 1998.

John W. Magaw,


    Approved: May 29, 1998.

John P. Simpson,

Deputy Assistant Secretary (Regulatory, Tariff and Trade Enforcement).

[FR Doc. 98-16502 Filed 6-19-98; 8:45 am]


This was last updated on August 25, 1998