ATF Ruling 85-14
Advice has been requested on whether a wine bottler may show, as additional information on a back or side label, the grape varieties used to make a wine bearing a generic or semi-generic designation, with the varieties listed in order of predominance rather than by percentages of each.
Section 4.23a permits the use of a grape variety or varieties as a type designation of grape wine. With the exception of wine derived from Vitus labrusca varieties or hybrids, the name of one grape variety may be used as a type designation if not less than 75% of the wine is derived from grapes of that variety. If two or three grape varieties are used as the type designation, 100% of the wine must be derived from the labeled varieties, and the percentage of each variety must be shown on the label.
Under §4.38(f), wine labels may contain information in addition to the mandatory label information if the additional information does not conflict with or qualify required statements, and the additional information is truthful and accurate.
Section 4.39 prohibits statements on labels or containers of wine which are false, untrue or create a misleading impression, or any statements which are likely to mislead the consumer.
ATF finds that the listing on a back or side label of grape varieties used in making a generic or semi-generic wine is not contrary to §4.23a since they are not used as a type designation. The list of these varieties is also permitted under §4.38 as long as they are truthful and accurate, and do not conflict with any required label information. Furthermore, the listing of grape varieties on the back or side label of generic or semi-generic wines is not likely to create a misleading impression or mislead the consumer. However, to permit the listing of grape varieties, ATF finds that they must be listed in order of predominance to prevent a misleading impression. ATF also finds that a minimum of 85% of the volume of the wine must be represented by the varietal listing, and that every grape variety contributing at least 5% of the volume must be included in the listing.
Held, that a listing of grape varieties used in making a wine bearing a generic or semi-generic designation is permitted as additional information on a back or side label under the following conditions:
1. The grape varieties shall be listed in descending order of predominance.
2. The grape varieties listed shall account for not less than 85% of the volume of the wine.
3. All grape varieties contributing 5% or more of the volume of the wine shall be listed.
4. The percentage of each grape variety may be optionally shown on the back or side label in direct conjunction with the list of grape varieties. A plus or minus tolerance of 2 percent is permitted in the varietal percentages. When shown, percentages will be shown for all grape varieties listed, and the total of the percentages must equal 100%.
Held further, that bottlers or importers of generic or semi-generic wines need not submit ATF Form 1649, Application for and Certification of Label Approval under Federal Alcohol Administration Act, to show changes in the order of predominance of the grape varieties on back or side labels listing the grape varieties used in the wine.
27 CFR 4.23a, 4.38(f) and 4.39.