Wine Labeling: Appellation of Origin

An appellation of origin generally designates the geographic area in which the fruit or other agricultural product was grown. Using an appellation of origin on your label also indicates that the wine meets certain production requirements. If certain information about a wine is included on the label, an appellation of origin is required.

An American viticultural area (AVA) is a type of appellation specific to grape wine. It is a defined grape-growing region having a name, distinguishing features, and a delineated boundary as established in 27 CFR part 9.  An AVA may be used as an appellation only on grape wine.  For more information about AVAs, please visit American Viticultural Area (AVA) and TTB P 5120.4, American Viticultural Area Manual for Petitioners.

Imported wine labeled with a foreign appellation of origin must conform to the requirements of the foreign laws and regulations governing the composition, method of production, and designation of wines available for consumption within the country of origin.

The appellation of origin on this example label is Hudson River Region, which is an AVAn
The appellation of origin on this example label is Hudson River Region, which is an AVA.

 

When is an appellation of origin required?

An appellation of origin is not required on all wine labels.  However, the label must include an appellation of origin if the wine is labeled with:

  • A vintage date;
  • A varietal designation;
  • A type designation of varietal significance;
  • A semi-generic designation;
  • An “estate bottled” claim; or
  • A product name qualified with the word “brand” under the requirements of 27 CFR 4.39(j). 

Generally, any one of the types of appellations (a country, state, etc.) may be used when an appellation is required. However, in some cases, only a particular type of appellation may be used. For example “estate bottled” wine must be labeled with a viticultural area. The use of certain appellations of origin may also satisfy the requirements of 27 CFR 4.39(i) with respect to the use of “grandfathered” brand names of viticultural significance.

Where should the appellation of origin be placed on the product?

When an appellation of origin is required to appear on the label, it must appear on the Brand Label, which is defined as the label where the brand name appears and also includes the class and/or type of the wine.

What are the formatting requirements?

When required, the appellation must appear in direct conjunction with, and in lettering substantially as conspicuous as, the class/type designation.

Type size:

  • For containers of 187 ml or less:
    The appellation of origin must be at least 1 mm in size and substantially as conspicuous as the class/type designation
  • For containers of over 187 ml:
    The appellation of origin must be at least 2 mm in size and substantially as conspicuous as the class/type designation

Legibility:

  • Must be readily legible under ordinary conditions;
  • Must appear on a contrasting background; and
  • Must appear separate and apart from, or be substantially more conspicuous than, descriptive or explanatory information.

What does “Estate bottled” mean and what are the requirements for its use?

“Estate bottled” means that 100 percent of the wine came from grapes grown on land owned or controlled by the winery, and both the winery and the vineyard must be located within the boundaries of the labeled viticultural area. The winery must crush and ferment the grapes, and finish, age, process, and bottle the wine in a continuous process on its premises (the wine at no time having left the premises of the bottling winery).

Wine labeled as “estate bottled” must meet the requirements for using a viticultural area as the appellation of origin and be labeled with that viticultural area.

What are the requirements for use of appellations on wine labels?

The charts below set forth the minimum percentage requirements for different appellations of origin.  Other requirements for use of an appellation of origin are also set forth in the regulations.

Domestic Wines

APPELLATION

REQUIREMENTS FOR USE…

The United States or American

1) Not less than 75 percent of the wine must be derived from fruit or agricultural products (as applicable) grown in the United States; AND
2) The wine must be fully finished (except for cellar treatment pursuant to §4.22(c), and blending that does not result in an alteration of class or type under §4.22(b)) within the United States; AND
3) The wine must conform to the laws and regulations of the named appellation area governing the composition, method of manufacture, and designation of wines made in the United States.

A State

1) Not less than 75 percent of the wine must be derived from fruit or agricultural products (as applicable) grown in the named State; AND
2) The wine must be fully finished (except for cellar treatment pursuant to §4.22(c), and blending that does not result in an alteration of class or type under §4.22(b)) in the named State or an adjacent State; AND
3) The wine must conform to the laws and regulations of the named appellation area governing the composition, method of manufacture, and designation of wines made in such State.

Multistate appellation

Comprising two or no more than three States which are all contiguous.

1) All of the fruit or agricultural products (as applicable) were grown in the States indicated, and the percentage of the wine derived from fruit or other agricultural products grown in each State is shown on the label with a tolerance of plus or minus 2 percent;
2) The wine has been fully finished (except for cellar treatment pursuant to §4.22(c), and blending that does not result in an alteration of class or type under §4.22(b)) in one of the labeled appellation States; AND
3) The wine conforms to the laws and regulations governing the composition, method of manufacture, and designation of wines in all of the States listed in the appellation.

A county

The appellation must be
identified with the word “county” in the same size of type as, and in letters as conspicuous as, the name of the county.

1) Not less than 75 percent of the wine must be derived from fruit or agricultural products (as applicable) grown in the named county; AND
2) The wine must be fully finished (except for cellar treatment pursuant to §4.22(c), and blending that does not result in an alteration of class or type under §4.22(b)) in the State in which the named county is located; AND
3) The wine must conform to the laws and regulations of the named appellation area (including the law of the State in which the county is located) governing the composition, method of manufacture, and designation of wines made in such county.

Multicounty appellation

Comprising two or no more than three counties in the same State.

1) All of the fruit or agricultural products (as applicable) were grown in the counties indicated; AND
2) The percentage of the wine derived from fruit or agricultural products (as applicable) grown in each county is shown on the label with a tolerance of plus or minus two percent.

An approved American
viticultural area
(AVA)

1) Not less than 85 percent of the wine must be derived from grapes grown in the named viticultural area; AND
2) The wine must be fully finished (except for cellar treatment pursuant to §4.22(c), and blending that does not result in an alteration of class or type under §4.22(b)) in the State (or one of the States) in which the named viticultural area is located.

Foreign/Imported Wines

 APPELLATION

REQUIREMENTS FOR USE…

A foreign country

1) Not less than 75 percent of the wine must be derived from fruit or agricultural products (as applicable) grown in the named country AND
2) The wine must conform to the laws and regulations of the named country governing the composition, method of production, and designation of wines available for consumption within that country.

A foreign state, province, territory, or similar political subdivision of a country equivalent to a State or county

1) Not less than 75 percent of the wine must be derived from fruit or agricultural products (as applicable) grown in the named foreign equivalent of a State AND
2) The wine must conform to the laws and regulations of the country in which the wine was produced governing the composition, method of production, and designation of wines available for consumption within that country.

A foreign equivalent of a multistate appellation

Comprising two or no more than three states, provinces, territories, or similar political subdivisions of a foreign country equivalent to a state which are all contiguous

1) All of the fruit or agricultural products (as applicable) were grown in the states, provinces, territories, or similar political subdivisions of a country equivalent to a state indicated, and the percentage of the wine derived from fruit or other agricultural products grown in each state, province, territory, or political subdivision equivalent to a state is shown on the label with a tolerance of plus or minus 2 percent; AND
2) The wine must conform to the laws and regulations of the country in which the wine was produced governing the composition, method of production, and designation of wines available for consumption within that country.

An approved foreign viticultural area

1) Not less than 85 percent of the wine must be derived from grapes grown in the named viticultural area AND
2) The wine must conform to the laws and regulations of the country in which the wine was produced governing the composition, method of production, and designation of wines available for consumption within that country.

 

How do I know what is an acceptable foreign appellation or foreign viticultural area?

For up-to-date information about wine appellations of origin in a specific country, you should contact the authorities of the appropriate foreign government. If you have any questions about foreign appellations of origin you may also contact TTB's International Affairs Division through the online contact form or 202-453-2260. Other helpful resources include:

Examples of appellation on labels:

  • Domestic Wine - “American” as the appellation

    Domestic Wine - “American” as the appellation

This wine is designated as “American Merlot.”  “American” represents the appellation of origin (27 CFR 4.25(b)) and “Merlot” represents the varietal designation (27 CFR 4.23(b)).  This designation means that at least 75 percent of the wine is derived from Merlot grapes grown in the United States.  Since a varietal designation (Merlot) is used on this label, an appellation of origin (American) is required (27 CFR 4.23(a)).

  • Domestic Wine - “County” as an appellation

    Domestic Wine - “County” as an appellation

Because this wine is vintage dated, an appellation of origin must be shown on the brand label (27 CFR 4.27(a)).  In this case, a county (ZZZ County) serves as the appellation of origin. 

  • Imported Wine - “Approved foreign viticultural area" as an appellation

    Imported Wine - “Approved foreign viticultural area" as an appellation

An appellation of origin is required on this label because of the presence of a vintage date  (27 CFR 4.27).  Accordingly, it is important to remember that the appellation of origin (in this case, “Victoria”) must appear in direct conjunction with the class and type designation (in this case, “Red Wine”), which means that they must appear on the same label (27 CFR 4.34(a)).

 

 

Description: http://icons.iconarchive.com/icons/judge/iphone/128/phone-icon.png NOTE

Wine Labeling: Appellation of Origin regulations at 27 CFR 4.25 and 4.34 (unless otherwise noted).

TTB G 2019-14

 

 

Description: http://icons.iconarchive.com/icons/judge/iphone/128/phone-icon.png CONTACT US

For more information on labeling, contact us at 202-453-2250 or toll free at 866-927-ALFD (2533), or send us a message using our ALFD Contact Form.

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Page last reviewed: March 2, 2013
Page last updated: September 27, 2019
Maintained by: Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division