Wine FAQs

W1: How do I convert authorized standard of fill containers of wine in metric sizes to U.S. gallons?

W2a: Who can apply to designate a grape growing area as a viticultural area?

Any individual or group may petition TTB to designate a grape growing area as an American Viticultural Area.



W2b: How do I apply to get a grape growing area designated as an American Viticultural Area?

To assist persons who wish to petition TTB for the creation or modification of an American Viticultural Area (AVA), TTB has created the AVA Manual for Petitioners.  The manual includes guidance on how to prepare a petition, as well as tables to help persons collect and evaluate information on distinguishing features.  TTB encourages petitioners to review the manual before drafting or submitting a petition.



W2: What is an American Viticultural Area?

An American Viticultural Area is a delimited grape-growing region having distinguishing features as described in part 9 of the TTB regulations, and a name and a delineated boundary as established in part 9 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 9).



W3: What American viticultural areas (AVAs) are already approved?

Subpart C of part 9 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 9) lists and describes all approved AVAs.

Download Listing of the Approved Viticultural Areas



W4: What are Home Winemakers' Centers and what Federal regulations apply?

Home Winemakers' Centers are places where an individual (home winemaker) pays a fee to use space and equipment to make wine for personal or family use. Although we refer to the individual making wine for personal or family use as a "home winemaker," the wine may be made somewhere other than the individual's residence, including a Home Winemakers' Center. 

Under the following conditions, Home Winemakers' Centers do not need to qualify under Federal rules as a bonded winery or pay Federal excise tax on wine that is produced at the Home Winemakers’ Center:

1. Customers may only make wine for personal or family use.  The customer must meet the requirements shown in 27 CFR 24.75.

  1. The individual must follow applicable State and local laws.
  2. The individual must be 18 years of age or the legal age to purchase wine in the locality, whichever is older.
  3. The individual may produce, without payment of Federal excise tax, per household, up to 100 gallons of wine per calendar year if there is one adult residing in the household, or 200 gallons if there are two or more adults residing in the household.
  4. The individual may remove wine from the place where it is made for personal or family use, including use in contests or tasting.
  5. The individual may not produce wine for sale or offer wine for sale.

2. The operator of a Home Winemakers' Center must learn and comply with all permit, license and tax requirements of State and local law and conduct operations in compliance with State and local law.  If State and local laws impose different requirements or limitations than Federal law and regulations, the stricter rules and limits apply.

3. The operations must never "cross the line" to commercial production or sale of wine. Operators and employees of Home Winemakers' Centers:

  1. May furnish space, equipment, ingredients, bottling supplies, and advice to customers.
  2. May provide certain assistance to customers including:
    1. Moving containers of wine between storage areas.
    2. Cleaning, maintenance, and repair of equipment.
    3. Climate and temperature control.
    4. Disposal of wastes.
    5. Quality control (including laboratory analysis and tasting of wine for quality control purposes).
  3. May not ferment juice, filter or bottle wine, add ingredients to wine, or provide physical assistance in producing or bottling wine.
  4. May not provide non-tax paid wine to customers or prospective customers for sampling or other reasons.

Operation of a Home Winemakers' Center in a manner contrary to the conditions outlined above will  cause the facility to be considered a commercial winery, subject to all statutory and regulatory provisions relating to winery operation including registry and bonding requirements as well as possible liability for back taxes.

A TTB qualified bonded winery may operate a Home Winemakers' Center under the following conditions:

1. If a Home Winemakers' Center is located on winery premises, all wine produced there is considered to be wine produced by the winery.

2. The wine so produced is taxable under Federal law and is subject to production, reporting, recordkeeping, and labeling regulations.

3. The Home Winemaker’s Center production will be included in the winery production records.

For further information regarding qualification of a bonded wine premises or operation of a Home Winemakers' Center at bonded wine premises, contact:

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau 
National Revenue Center 
550 Main Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 
Telephone 1-(877) 882-3277

Last reviewed/updated: 03/28/2016


W5: What are the rules covering tasting and sales of wine at my winery?

Tasting of non-taxpaid wine

In order to offer non-taxpaid wine to the public for tasting, the tasting room or area must be located within the bonded area of the wine premises.  In addition, you must maintain a record showing the date, quantity, and kind of wine that is transferred to the room or area for tasting.  See 27 CFR 24.97(b).  Show the amount of non-taxpaid wine used for tasting on TTB Form 5120.17, “Report of Wine Premises Operations,” Section B, line 11.

If you set aside more non-taxpaid wine to be used in the tasting room or area than is necessary, the excess amount will be subject to tax.  See 27 CFR 24.97(c).

Tasting of taxpaid wine

If the tasting room or area is not part of the bonded area, the wine used for tasting must be taxpaid. You must record the taxable removal of wine to such a tasting room or area when the wine is removed from bond or moved to a designated and suitable tax-paid storage area inside of the bonded wine premises.  Show this as a taxable removal on line 8 of Section B on TTB Form 5120.17, “Report of Wine Premises Operations.”


You are considered a “dealer” under the TTB regulations if you do any of the following at your winery:

  • Charge for a winery tour that the public must take in order to taste the wine
  • Charge for the wine that you serve in the tasting room off the bonded area
  • Sell wine to visitors to take home

When you were approved to operate as a bonded wine premises, you were automatically registered as a dealer at the approved premises.  An amendment to your approved wine premises application will also amend your dealer’s registration.  If you have additional retail locations, you must register as a dealer at those other locations and keep appropriate records.  See the alcohol beverage dealers’ regulations at 27 CFR part 31.

If you sell wine at your winery, you must arrange for recording the taxable removal of such wine at the time of sale, or designate a suitable tax-paid storage area and record the taxable removal of wine when it is transferred to the taxpaid storage area.

If the development of your tasting area (and any related taxpaid area to supply retail sales) would affect information on your bonded wine cellar application, you must submit a notice of the change under 27 CFR 24.131 to the Director, National Revenue Center before making any changes. If you have questions about this requirement, contact the National Revenue Center by e-mail at National Revenue Center or by telephone at (877) 882-3277.



W6: Where can I find information on computing and paying the tax on wine?

For a brief overview of the basic requirements for the proper computation and filing of wine excise taxes, please see our “Quick Reference Guide to Wine Excise Tax



W7: We removed this FAQ because it was out of date.


Removed: 06/03/2022


W8: May bottles of wine without labels (sometimes called "shiners") be transferred between two bonded wine premises?

A bottle of wine may not be removed from bonded wine premises for consumption or sale without the label required by 27 CFR 24.257.  However, under the provisions of 27 CFR 24.256, wine that is bottled or packed and stored for the purpose of aging need not have labels affixed until the wine is removed for consumption or sale.

Although the regulations do not specifically provide for this, TTB has allowed bottled wine without a label to be transferred in bond between bonded wine premises for the purposes of labeling, as long as the label is affixed to the bottle prior to removal from bonded wine premises for consumption or sale.  The label that is affixed must comply with all applicable requirements of the regulations implementing the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (IRC), as set forth below.

Because it is the bottler's responsibility under both the FAA Act and the IRC to label the wine container after bottling, TTB treats the labeling wine premises in such cases as the agent of the bottler, and the bottler (not the transferee) is responsible for obtaining the appropriate certificate of label approval.  The conditions for the transfer of unlabeled wine between bonded wine premises, and the labeling of the bottle by a wine premises other than the bottler, are set forth below.  Please note that the responsibility for keeping and transferring accurate records about the wine is not that of the producer alone.  This responsibility is shared by all proprietors of bonded wine premises who transfer or receive wine, from the time of production to the time the wine is labeled and removed from bond for consumption or sale.

Who is responsible for obtaining a certificate of label approval (COLA) for domestically bottled wine?

The bottler of the wine is responsible for obtaining a certificate of label approval (COLA).  Pursuant to the FAA Act and its implementing regulations at 27 CFR 4.50, no person shall bottle or pack wine, or remove such wine from the plant where bottled or packed, unless an approved COLA has been issued on TTB Form 5100.31.

A bottler may obtain a certificate of exemption from label approval, instead of a COLA, on TTB Form 5100.31 if the wine to be bottled or packed is not to be sold, offered for sale, or shipped or delivered for shipment, or otherwise introduced in interstate or foreign commerce.  However, any wine subject to the requirements of the FAA Act must be covered by either a COLA or a certificate of exemption prior to bottling.  Wines containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume are not subject to the COLA or certificate of exemption requirement.  For purposes of these FAQs, we will assume that the wine in question is subject to the COLA requirements of the FAA Act.

What are the responsibilities of a producer who transfers wine in bulk to another bonded wine premises?

The producer of the wine must ensure that the transfer in bond record required by 27 CFR 24.309 contains accurate and specific label information for all bulk wine shipped in bond to another premises for bottling.  Among other things, this record must include the kind of wine (class and type), as well as the alcohol content or tax class of the wine.  The transfer in bond record must also include information (such as substantiation of varietal designations, vintage dates, or appellations of origin) necessary to comply with the recordkeeping requirements of 27 CFR 24.314, which requires proprietors who remove bottled or packed wine to have complete records so that the information appearing on the label may be verified by a TTB audit.  This information allows the bottler to apply for a COLA and ensures that the product label is correct.

What are the responsibilities of a bottler who receives wine in bulk from the producer?

The bottler is responsible for obtaining a COLA for a label, and ensuring that the label claims can be substantiated by required records, including the transfer in bond record received from the producing winery.  The bottler must maintain records in accordance with 27 CFR 24.308.

What are the responsibilities of a bottler who transfers unlabeled bottles of wine to another bonded wine premises?

As noted above, the bottler is responsible for obtaining a COLA prior to bottling the wine.  When transferring unlabeled wine to another bonded premises for labeling, the COLA must accompany the wine.  The bottler must also transmit the transfer in bond record (27 CFR 24.309), which must contain accurate and specific information about the wine to support any labeling claims that are made.

If unlabeled bottled wine is transferred to another bonded premises for aging only, and will be subsequently returned to the bottler for the affixing of the product label, the COLA does not have to accompany the shipments. However, transferees may wish to request a copy of the COLA in such cases to avoid problems in the event that the wine is ultimately removed by the transferee instead of being returned to the transferor.

Finally, the bins, pallets, stacks, cases or containers of unlabeled wine must be marked in some manner to show the kind (class and type) and alcohol content of the wine. If the unlabeled wine is stored at a location other than the bottling or packing winery, the registry number of the bottling or packing winery must also be shown.  See 27 CFR 24.256.

What are the responsibilities of a bonded wine premises that receives unlabeled bottles of wine for labeling?

The bonded wine premises that will affix the product label is responsible for ensuring that the transferor has provided a COLA for the product label to be affixed, and that the transfer in bond record (27 CFR 24.309) received from the bottling winery contains information that substantiates the label claims.  After labeling, the wine may either be transferred in bond or removed from the bonded wine premises, in accordance with TTB regulations.

What happens if the bonded wine premises applying the label wants to affix a label that differs from the label on the COLA obtained by the bottler?

If a new COLA is required, it must be obtained by the bottler.  The bottler may apply for another COLA for a product label with more specific label claims, as long as the claims are substantiated in accordance with the label information record requirements of 27 CFR 24.314.  The labeler should work with the bottler to obtain that approval.

TTB also recommends that the bottler employ, to the extent possible, TTB's list of Allowable Revisions to make changes to the label without resubmitting a new COLA.  Any changes to the label must be authorized by the bottler and the documentation supporting the authorization must be maintained in the labeling wine premise's records, along with the accompanying COLA.

What if the bottler is unwilling to provide a new COLA?

Assuming that the wine is subject to the requirements of the FAA Act, it is a violation of the law to remove the bottled wine without a label that is covered by a COLA or a certificate of exemption.  If the bottler of the wine is unwilling to obtain a different COLA for the wine to be labeled, the transferee must affix labels that are consistent with the COLA obtained by the bottling winery.  When two bonded wine premises make contractual arrangements for this type of transfer, they should take this scenario into account.

If the transferee dumps the wine back to bulk and rebottles it (assuming such an activity is authorized by the contract between the two bonded wine premises), the transferee will be treated as the bottler by TTB.  Again, the two bonded wine premises should consider these options when arranging this type of transfer.  As always, the bottler is responsible for ensuring that the label does not contain any claim that is not adequately supported by the label information record for the wine.

What if the bottler is out of business?

In very limited situations, where the bottling winery is no longer in business, TTB may permit the transferee in bond to apply for permission to use a label that is not covered by the original COLA obtained by the bottler.  In such cases, the label must include the name and address of the bottling winery, as required by TTB regulations in 27 CFR 4.32 and 4.35, as well as the name and address of the transferee wine premises, as the distributor of the wine.  The transferee in bond must send a request on company letterhead and provide the following information: 

  1. The brand name of the wine;
  2. The name and registry/permit number of the bottling winery;
  3. The name and registry number of the labeling facility requesting permission to apply for a new COLA or certificate of exemption;
  4. A statement within the letter affirming that all appropriate taxes will be paid;
  5. A statement within the letter that indicates that the original bottler has discontinued operations and that the requesting company (transferee in bond) has all of the documentation to support the label claims;
  6. The number of cases involved;
  7. The length of time needed to remove the wine from bond, not to exceed six (6) months;
  8. A copy of the original COLA supplied by the bottler;
  9. A complete set of the proposed labels, which clearly identify both the name and address of the bottler as well as the name and address of the transferee winery.  The information must be displayed in a manner that easily identifies to the consumer the name of the bonded wine premises responsible for the product. 

The request must be sent to:
Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division
1310 G Street, NW 
Box 12
Washington, DC  20005; or
Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division (ALFD) Contact Form.

Please keep in mind that these requests will be addressed on a case-by-case basis and may not be handled at the same processing times as COLAs due to the nature of the request.   

How long must records be kept under 27 CFR part 24?

All records must be retained for a period of not less than three years from the record date or the date of last entry required to be made in the record, whichever is later. However, TTB may require records to be kept for a period of not more than three additional years, if deemed necessary.  See 27 CFR 24.300(d).



W9b: What names are approved pending formal rulemaking?

TTB has received petitions for the following grape names that contain sufficient evidence for us to approve their use on American wine labels in accordance with and subject to TTB regulations contained in 27 CFR part 4.  Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division is therefore approving COLAs for American wines designated with these grape variety names.  We periodically publish changes to the list of approved grape variety names contained in our regulations at 27 CFR 4.91.  Any final rule action will supersede letter approvals of  grape variety names.  Also, these approvals are for the purposes of the U.S. market and do not imply that the use of the names is acceptable in other countries.

Please see currently approved grape names



W9: What grape names are approved as type designation for American wines?

Please see 27 CFR 4.91 for a complete list of grape names approved as type designations for American wine.



W9a: What names are approved under 27 CFR 4.92 for use on wines bottled prior to January 1, 2006?

Johannisberg Riesling



W10: Can I share a bonded wine premises?

Engaging in the business of producing commercial wine without a permit is an unlawful activity under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (27 U.S.C. 203(b)(1)). The production is a violation of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 5351) as well. The Internal Revenue Code requires that an application be submitted, a bond filed and approval received for the commercial production of wine. Both the winery owner and the non-approved person using the equipment can be held responsible for any violation of Federal law and regulations.

The winery owner that allows an unapproved person to use the bonded winery facility for production of wine is in violation of federal regulations that require notification to TTB when another business is being conducted on the premises.

Tax on the wine produced by the person “borrowing” the equipment and facilities. Each failure to keep records, to include information on reports or to pay taxes is a violation of Federal regulations under the Internal Revenue Code. Mislabeling wine is a violation of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act.

People who are interested in producing commercial wine, but who may not have the necessary equipment and facilities, should consider establishing an alternating proprietorship on bonded wine premises. Under an approved alternating proprietorship a part or all of the premises will be alternated between approved proprietors. Each proprietor will conduct independent operations when the premises are alternated to their winery. For more information about alternating proprietorships, please see 27 CFR 24.136 and Industry Circular 2008-4.



W11: What is a "Custom Crush" arrangement and what are the Federal requirements for "Custom Crush" clients and winemakers?

In a typical custom crush arrangement, a grape grower or any person with winemaking materials (the “client”) enters into a contract with a bonded winery proprietor to have the grapes processed into wine. The client retains title to the grapes, and the wine is made to the client’s specifications. The finished wine is returned to the client for sale to other dealers, or the winery sometimes sells the wine on behalf of the client.

The custom crush client may be required to obtain a Federal Wholesaler’s Basic Permit from TTB. This permit allows the client to engage in the business of purchasing wine for resale at wholesale, in accordance with the Federal Alcohol Administration Act at 27 U.S.C. 203(c)(1) and 27 CFR 1.22. Although the client is specifically paying for the producer’s services, the client has purchased wine (within the broad meaning of the term) at the price set in the agreement. If the client engages in activities normally associated with wholesaling, such as setting the price for the wine, determining which dealers will be sold the wine, and controlling and paying for advertising of the product, the client must have a wholesaler’s basic permit. If, however, the client merely receives the proceeds from the sale by the winery of the resulting wine, a permit would not be required.

The custom crush client who engages in the business of selling wine is liable for Registration as a Liquor Dealer.  The holder of a federal permit is automatically registered to sell at the address shown on the permit.  If selling at retail at a location where you do not hold a valid producer, blender, wholesaler or importer permit, the retailer must register that location by filing TTB F 5630.5(d).  There is no cost for registration.

Bonded winery proprietors must ensure that the receipt of winemaking materials and the ensuing activities associated with the production of custom crush wine is properly recorded. TTB reminds the industry that wine produced for custom crush clients carries the same regulatory requirements for recordkeeping, reporting, labeling and taxation as wine made for the winery itself.

The bottling winery is responsible for obtaining an appropriate Certificate of Label Approval, and the wine premises which removes the wine from bond is responsible for payment of Federal excise tax at the rate appropriate for the producing winery.



W12b: I am a home winemaker and am applying for a permit to operate a winery. Before my application and bond are approved, is there a way for me to make wine that I will be allowed to sell at my new bonded wine premises?

A home winemaker that is planning to become the proprietor of a newly established bonded winery (“a”) and wishes to have a starting wine inventory can have wine produced by an existing, fully qualified bonded winery (“b”) under a custom crush arrangement. When the applications and bond for the new winery (“a”) are approved, the wine produced by the bonded winery (“b”) for the new winery (“a”) can be transferred in bond to the new winery’s established premises and that  wine may be sold or offered for sale.  Please see our FAQ on custom crush arrangements for more information.



W12: May I sell home-produced wine?

No. Under 26 U.S.C. 5042 and the implementing regulations in 27 CFR 24.75(a), wine produced for personal or family use may never be sold or offered for sale.  Only wine produced at a fully qualified bonded wine premises may be sold or offered for sale.



W12a: I am a home winemaker and am applying for a permit to operate a winery. Will I be allowed to sell or store my home-made wine at my new bonded wine premises?

No. Wine that you produce as a home winemaker is produced under the regulations that apply to wine made for personal or family use. You may never sell that wine or offer it for sale. Additionally, wine that you produce as a home winemaker may not be stored on bonded wine premises.



W13: How do I become a bonded wine premises?

Federal law requires that anyone wishing to conduct wine operations (other than as a home winemaker) must first establish premises, obtain a bond and receive permission from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). In addition, law requires that anyone wishing to produce or blend wine in the United States must first obtain a Federal Basic Permit from TTB.

The Federal Application Process for the Wine Industry: Bonded Wine Premises, Alternating Proprietor Wine Premises, and Custom Crush Operations.



W14: Does TTB regulate the production of home winemaking kits?

No, TTB does not. Winemaking kits typically contain concentrate, yeast, juice, acids, sulfites and wood chips, and provide sufficient materials to produce about 30 bottles of wine. Since the kits contain unfermented raw materials, they do not come under our jurisdiction. When the kits are used to produce tax-exempt wine for personal or family use, we do not regulate the labeling of wine made from the kits.  However, we do regulate the labeling of any wine made commercially from the kits.



W14e: May a proprietor of a bonded wine premises who is using wine kits to commercially produce wine use the wine treating materials that are often provided in winemaking kits?

It depends.  Treating materials included in wine kits may only be used if they are listed as authorized for use and used in compliance with the TTB regulations at 27 CFR 24.246 or have been Administratively Approved for use in wine sold domestically.



W14c: How should a proprietor of a bonded wine premises label wine made with a kit?

A proprietor of a bonded wine premises who is commercially producing wine from a wine kit must comply with the appropriate TTB regulations regarding labeling.  Containers of beverage wine removed from wine premises for consumption or sale must be labeled in accordance with the requirements of 27 CFR 24.257.  Beverage wine containing at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume is subject to the Health Warning Statement regulations found in 27 CFR part 16.  Additionally, wines containing at least 7 percent alcohol by volume that will be sold or otherwise introduced in interstate commerce must be labeled in compliance with TTB's Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) wine labeling regulations contained in 27 CFR part 4.

A proprietor must have complete records so that any information (whether mandatory or optional) that is stated on the label may be verified by a TTB audit.  Examples of label claims include grape variety names, appellations of origin, and vintage dates. Winemakers using kits must obtain appropriate records from the kit's producer about the source materials to substantiate any labeling claims about the wine.  See 27 CFR 24.257(b) and 24.314.

Please note that mandatory and optional labeling statements about wines subject to the FAA Act must comply with the requirements found in 27 CFR part 4.  For example, the regulations in 27 CFR 4.25 provide specific requirements for the use of different appellations of origin, and all of those requirements must be met in order to use an appellation on the label.  Accordingly, wine that is fermented in Indiana from a kit containing grape juice concentrate derived entirely from grapes grown in Washington State is not entitled to a Washington appellation of origin under §4.25, because the wine was not fully finished in Washington or an adjacent State.  In this example, with proper documentation, the wine may be eligible for an "American" appellation of origin.



W14a: Does TTB endorse or certify the contents of winemaking kits?

No, TTB does not endorse or certify the contents of any winemaking kits. Commercial users of winemaking kits are fully responsible for obtaining the necessary information about the content of the kits to support any statements made on the label.



W14d: How should a proprietor of a bonded wine premises label the wine if he/she cannot obtain information about the origin of, or the grapes used to make, the concentrate or if the wine does not meet the requirements for optional claims?

If information about the origin of the concentrate or the grape varieties used in the concentrate cannot be verified, the product may be labeled as “grape wine” or with a color descriptor, such as “red wine” or “white wine.” If the wine has an alcohol content that is not over 14 percent alcohol by volume, it may also be designated as “table wine.”

Vintage dates, varietal names, and appellations may not be shown on the label, unless they can be verified and the wine meets the other requirements in 27 CFR part 4 for use of the claim.



W14b: What rules apply if the proprietor of a bonded wine premises uses a winemaking kit to produce wine for sale?

TTB regulates the commercial production of wine under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (IRC) and the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act laws and regulations. These laws and regulations require that wine producers qualify their premises as a bonded wine cellar, obtain an FAA basic permit as a producer of wine, pay the applicable excise tax, and obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for all wine that is bottled for sale in interstate commerce.

The IRC and FAA Act requirements apply to those who are engaged in the business of winemaking who intend to sell the wine or distribute it for commercial purposes, and apply equally to companies using kits and traditional winemaking materials. Information provided on the labels of all wine made for commercial purposes must be truthful and must adequately inform the consumer about the identity and quality of the product.



W15: What is required when applying for a certificate of exemption from label approval for my wine label instead of a Certificate of Label Approval on Form 5100.31?

You may apply for a certificate of exemption from label approval for your wine only if it is produced or bottled in the United States and only if it will be sold, offered for sale, shipped, or delivered for shipment within the state in which it was bottled or packed (in other words, it will not be introduced into interstate commerce).  This can be accomplished by selecting and completing item 18b on your label application, TTB Form 5100.31.  Imported bottled wines are not eligible for a certificate of exemption from label approval and therefore must be covered by a Certificate of Label Approval. 

Wines labeled under a certificate of exemption from label approval must show the statement, “For sale in  _________(name of State) only.”  This statement may be added to a label covered by a certificate of exemption, or may be on an additional label that is affixed to the container.  The statement does not have to appear on the label that is submitted to TTB, but must be on the container before it is removed from bond for consumption or sale. 

Although the labeling requirements in 27 CFR Part 4, Labeling and Advertising of Wine, do not apply when a certificate of exemption is used, all of the rules in the wine regulations under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (IRC), 27 CFR Part 24, continue to apply to all wine bottled and packed in the United States.  For example, 27 CFR 24.257(a) outlines what information must appear on your label, as well as the minimum type size requirements, for each bottle or other container of beverage wine prior to removal for consumption or sale.  In brief, each label must contain:

  • Name & Address of the wine premises where bottled or packed
  • Brand name if different from the above
  • Alcohol content as percent by volume or as stated in accordance with 27 CFR Part 4
  • The kind of wine
  • Net contents

Please see the complete text of 27 CFR 24.257 for additional information and guidance.  (Note that Part 24 does not apply in Puerto Rico.  See 27 CFR 24.2.)

The recordkeeping requirements in the IRC wine regulations continue to apply when a certificate of exemption is used.  The wine regulations state in 27 CFR 24.257(b):  “The information shown on any label applied to bottled or packed wine is subject to the recordkeeping requirements of [27 CFR 24.314, Label information record]," which states: 

A proprietor who removes bottled or packed wine with information stated on the label (e.g., varietal, vintage, appellation of origin, analytical data, date of harvest) shall have complete records so that the information appearing on the label may be verified by an [sic] TTB audit. A wine is not entitled to have information stated on the label unless the information can be readily verified by a complete and accurate record trail from the beginning source material to removal of the wine for consumption or sale. All records necessary to verify wine label information are subject to the record retention requirements of § 24.300(d).

In addition, Congress recently amended section 5388(c) of the IRC (26 U.S.C. 5388(c)) to restrict the use of certain wine terms on wine labels sold in the United States.  These wine names are:  Burgundy, Claret, Chablis, Champagne, Chianti, Malaga, Marsala, Madeira, Moselle, Port, Rhine wine, Hock, Sauterne, Haut Sauterne, Sherry, Tokay and Retsina.  These names may be used on labels for wine from the European Community (and made in accordance with the requirements of the Community) and on certain previously approved non-Community wine labels if their uses are grandfathered as of March 10, 2006.  Because the IRC applies to wine regardless of whether it is in intrastate or interstate commerce, the restriction on the use of these names applies in both contexts.  Accordingly, TTB will not issue a certificate of exemption for wine using one of these wine names in a manner not authorized by the statute.  The change in the law was effective on December 20, 2006. 

The Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988, 27 U.S.C. 213 et seq., and implementing regulations in 27 CFR Part 16, which require a specified health warning statement on alcoholic beverages bottled or imported for sale or distribution in the United States, also apply equally to wine sold or shipped in intrastate or interstate commerce.  Under Part 16, the required warning statement is a prerequisite for approval of a certificate of exemption from label approval, just as it is for a Certificate of Label Approval.

Finally, other laws may apply to fraudulent conduct used to sell mislabeled wine or to mislead consumers, including certain federal criminal statutes relating to fraud carried out through the use of: the mail; private or commercial interstate carriers; or wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce.



W16: What does it mean when you see a wine labeled as "Table Wine With Natural Flavors" or "Grape Wine With Natural Flavors?

“Table Wine With Natural Flavors" and "Grape Wine With Natural Flavors” are statements of composition.  A statement like this is required on a wine label when a wine does not fall within any of the current standards of identity set forth in TTB wine labeling regulations at 27 CFR, Part 4, Subpart C (Grape Wine, Fruit Wine, Aperitif Wine, etc.).  If a wine product does not fit a standard of identity, TTB requires under 27 CFR 4.34 that the product be designated with a "truthful and adequate statement of composition" on the brand label, and we have accepted statements such as "Table Wine With Natural Flavors" for that purpose.  The statement of composition is not required to be a complete listing of ingredients.

TTB's predecessor agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), proposed adding a category for "flavored wine products" to the standards of identity in Subpart C to distinguish these products from standard wines.  While there was not adequate support for such a labeling change, ATF did find there was support for a prohibition on use of varietal designations (grape type, like "Chardonnay"), semigeneric geographic type designations (like "Chablis" or "Burgundy"), or geographic distinctive designations (like Bordeaux or Medoc) for wines not made in accordance with classes 1, 2, and 3, of that standards of identity (27 CFR 4.21(a‑c)).  This means that these flavored wine products labeled with a statement of composition pursuant to 27 CFR 4.34 cannot use varietal, semigeneric geographic type, or geographic distinctive designations.  That prohibition was placed in 27 CFR 4.34(a) and 4.39(n).  (See Treasury Decision ATF-431 published October 6, 2000, 65 FR 59718 for more information regarding the ATF and TTB position on the labeling of Flavored Wine Products.)

Therefore, you should not see a product with 7% or more alcohol by volume labeled "Chardonnay With Natural Flavors."  However, you may see wines with less than 7% alcohol by volume using one of these designations (e.g. "Tutti-Frutti Chardonnay").  That is because TTB's consumer protection authority under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act extends only to wines with 7% or more alcohol by volume.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules apply to the labeling of wines with less than 7% alcohol by volume.  For more information about FDA labeling requirements go to their website.



W17: Does ATF Ruling 80-19 prohibit wine premises proprietors from selling wine for consumption in the taxpaid areas of their wine premises?

No, ATF Ruling 80-19 concerns wine that is provided free of tax to guests attending special events held in bonded areas of wine premises.  An application is required and certain restrictions are imposed.  Under 27 CFR 24.101 and 24.102, wine premises are designated as either bonded premises, where operations involving untaxpaid wine may be conducted, or taxpaid premises, where operations involving taxpaid wine may be conducted.

ATF Ruling 80-19 does not address sales of taxpaid wine in taxpaid areas of wine premises, because such sales are considered to be part of normal wine premises operations.  A proprietor selling wine for consumption on taxpaid premises does not need to obtain special permission.  Existing recordkeeping and reporting requirements in 27 CFR part 24 apply.  Proprietors must request TTB permission before reconfiguring the premises to add a serving area (27 CFR 24.131).

TTB regulations do not restrict the location where wine that is sold on taxpaid wine premises may be consumed.  States may have additional rules about where purchased wine may be consumed, but for TTB purposes, the wine may be consumed anywhere except the bonded area.  The wine premises proprietor is responsible for learning about and complying with applicable State and local rules.


W18: Am I permitted to label my product with a specialized farming term to show my compliance with or concern for environmental initiatives and movements?

A description of specialized farming practices generally may appear on alcohol beverage labels as additional information provided it is truthful, accurate, specific, and does not conflict with, or in any manner qualify, mandatory labeling information. However, due to the constantly evolving nature of this field, TTB reserves the right to request clarification and documented verification of any graphics, seals, logos, definitions or language appearing on labels.  For instance, any label specifically stating that the producer is certified by an agricultural organization must have documented proof.

Terms that refer to the environmental impact of the process and packaging rather than the product itself are usually acceptable.  These words and phrases may not modify mandatory information on brand labels, but might appear as additional information after review on a case-by-case basis.



W19: I would like to make some changes to my approved label. Do I have to resubmit it for a new approval?

Page three of TTB F 5100.31 (Application for and Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval) contains the complete list of allowable revisions that can be made to an approved label without needing to resubmit the label for a new approval.  A new approval is required unless the change to be made is specifically included on this list. 

For instance, if a non-organic wine has a label that is identical to the approved label except for a change in the vintage date (Item 16) then no new approval is necessary.  In addition, a new approval would not be needed if the alcohol content changes but the wine remains in the same tax class (Item 5).  Please note that a new approval is required if you are changing the appellation, the varietal, or the descriptive text.



W20: Who needs to submit a wine label for approval?

Federal regulations require that the bottling winery or the importer must submit the label for approval.



W21: I am going to import the same product that another importer is already bringing in. Do I need to get an approval?

Yes, a new approval is required for each different importer who wants to import a product, under that importer’s Basic Permit.



W22: Another winery is doing a custom crush for me, and will be producing and bottling my wine. How do I get a label approval?

Federal regulations require that the bottling winery must submit the label for approval.  Even though the wine is produced and bottled for you and/or will be distributed exclusively (or not) by you, the bottler/importer is responsible for getting the label approval.



W23: Item 9 on the list of allowable revisions that can be made to an approved label without needing to resubmit the label for a new approval [page 3 of TTB F 5100.31 (Application for and Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval)] allows me to “Change the name and/or tradename of responsible winery, DSP, brewery, or importer.” Does this mean that I can import the same product that another importer is already bringing in by using their label approval but with my name in the “Imported by…” statement on the label?

No, federal regulations require that each importer must submit the label for approval.  Item 9 means that if you have a label approval using “XYZ Imports,” and you add a new trade name of “ABC Imports” to your permit, then you may change “Imported by XYZ Imports…” to “Imported by ABC Imports…” on the label without applying for a new COLA.



W24: I operate a domestic winery and I am making wine from grapes or juice that I have purchased from another state or country. What appellation of origin may I use?

This is a complicated question, and the answer (see 27 CFR §4.25(b)) depends on the particular circumstances. State or local laws and regulations may be more restrictive than Federal laws and regulations in some instances, and, to use an appellation, the wine must conform to the laws and regulations of the named appellation area.  (Please note that we use here certain states or regions only as examples to illustrate certain different circumstances.)  We advise that you confer with state and local authorities regarding their requirements before finalizing your COLA submission.  Remember that your wine, and the records that you keep, must adequately support any claims which are made on your label. The following situations serve as examples.  There are certainly more factual circumstances that might have a different outcome.

Situation 1:   I am making a wine with grapes or juice originating from a state that is contiguous to (that is,  touching)  my own state (e.g. when California grapes are used to produce  wine in Oregon).Suppose that I have purchased Napa Valley, California, grapes that I will produce into wine in Oregon.

The most specific appellation of origin eligible for use is the name of the contiguous state (California).  A viticultural area appellation of origin (e.g. Napa Valley) may NOT  be used because the wine was not fully finished within that state.

Situation 2:  The state from which the winemaking material originates is not contiguous to the state in which the wine is produced. For example, California grapes have been purchased to produce wine in New York.

The most specific appellation of origin eligible - for use is a country appellation, such as “American.”  Note that when a country is used as an appellation of origin a vintage date is NOT permissible for the wine.

Situation 3:   I am purchasing grapes or juice from another country.  An appellation of origin may NOT be used, as this wine is not eligible for such claims (see 27 CFR §4.25(b)(2)(ii)).  A vintage date or a varietal designation (e.g. Merlot) may not appear  on the wine,  as both items require an appellation of origin present on the label.  The wine may be labeled only with  a more general class or type statement, such as “Red Wine” or “White Wine.”



W25: This question and answer are temporarily removed from the site pending internal review. Please check back soon.

This question and answer are temprarily removed from the site pending internal review. Please check back soon.



W26: I have untaxpaid wine and/or wine spirits that I would like to destroy. How do I receive approval for the destruction of wine or wine spirits without payment of tax?

Step 1:  The destruction of wine is provided for in 27 CFR 24.294.  In accordance with § 24.294, a bonded wine premises proprietor can submit an application to TTB’s National Revenue Center requesting permission to destroy the lot of wine.  A complete application includes the following information:

Date of letter
Name and Address of Bonded Wine Premises
Registry Number of Bonded Wine Premises (“BWN/BWC/BW-State-xxxxx”)
Kind of wine
Alcohol Content
Approximate volume in gallons    
Where wine will be destroyed 
Proposed date of destruction
Reason for destruction 
Printed Name
Signature (Person signing must have signing authority)
Telephone Number

Your application should be mailed to:

TTB National Revenue Center
Attention:  Wine Tax Unit
550 Main St., Room 8970
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Or faxed to the Wine Tax Unit at (202) 453-2338.

If you have wine spirits that must be destroyed, follow the same procedure in accordance with 27 CFR 24.235, but send the application to the District Director who serves your area.  For contact information, click here.

Step 2:  You may destroy the wine if you are notified by TTB that you may proceed with the destruction without supervision.  If you are informed that TTB will supervise the destruction, we will notify you when the destruction may take place.  The wine must be destroyed in compliance with your local environmental and waste disposal rules.  

Step 3:  Show the amount destroyed on TTB F 5120.17, “Report of Wine Premises Operations” for the period in which the product was destroyed.  The volume of bulk wine destroyed will be entered in the write-in entry Lines 24-28 of Part I, Section A.  The volume of bottled wine destroyed will be entered in the write-in entry lines 15-17 of Part I, Section B.  The volume of wine spirits destroyed will be entered on line 7 of Part III.

ID / Aug. 2010


W27: May a proprietor of a bonded wine premises transfer bulk wine to a bonded wine premises, brewery, or distilled spirits plant?

Bonded Wine PremisesYes, a proprietor of a bonded wine premises may transfer bulk wine or packaged wine in bond to any bonded wine premises.   See 26 U.S.C. 5362(b)(1) and 27 CFR 24.280-24.284, which also set forth certain requirements related to such transfers.



No, a proprietor of a bonded wine premises may not transfer bulk wine to a brewery premises.  Federal law and TTB regulations restrict the use of a brewery to specific purposes and operations and receiving bulk wine is not listed among the authorized operations.  See 26 U.S.C. 5411 and 27 CFR 25.23.  



Distilled Spirits Plant

Yes, the proprietor of bonded wine premises may transfer bulk wine in bond to a distilled spirits plant for use in the in the manufacture of distilled spirits. See 26 U.S.C. 5362(b)(2), (b)(3), and (c)(6)and 27 CFR 24.280-24.290, which also set forth certain requirements related to such transfers.

See 27 CFR part 19 applicable to distilled spirits plants, including regulations regarding the receipt of wine at a distilled spirits plant.

See information regarding bulk transfers of beer or spirits.

W28: Do I need a permit to import beverage alcohol products for my own use, or to ship or bring my personal alcohol collection into the U.S. from overseas?

Please visit TTB's Personal Importation of Beverage Alcohol Products page for information on bringing alcohol into the U.S. for non-commercial purposes.


W29: How should I report kegs of wine on my Report of Wine Premises Operations form (TTB F 5120.17)?

Report wine on your Report of Wine Premises Operations form (TTB F 5120.17) based on the size of the container. (Containers include bottles, cans, boxes, and kegs.) Generally, wine that is in bulk (in a container holding over 60 liters) during the reporting period is reported in Part 1, Section A – Bulk Wines. Wine that is not in bulk (in a container holding 60 liters or less) is reported in Section B – Bottled Wines.

Therefore, a keg of wine that exceeds 60 liters must be reported in Section A, while a keg that contains 60 liters or less must be reported in Section B.

Note, 60 liters is approximately 15.9 U.S. gallons.


W30: I am a winery that wants to provide a “virtual tasting room” experience by providing consumers the opportunity to order small containers of my wine similar in size to those found in winery tasting rooms. What TTB rules would apply?

Under TTB regulations, a winery may remove wine in a range of container sizes for sale and shipment to consumers. The requirements of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988 (ABLA), and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), as well as the TTB regulations implementing those statutes, apply to any taxable removal from a winery premises, whether for shipments of small containers to consumers or otherwise. Below is some information that may help wineries considering sending small containers to consumers.

FAA Act requirements.  If a bottling winery wants to send bottles to consumers located only within the bottling State, the winery may obtain a certificate of exemption from label approval for the product, which exempts it from the FAA Act requirements below. See TTB Form 5100.31 for more information about applying for a certificate of exemption.

Otherwise, the wine must be labeled and bottled in accordance with FAA Act requirements under 27 U.S.C. 205(e) and the regulations in 27 CFR part 4, including the following:

Container Size.  TTB understands that a typical sample in a tasting room is about 2 fluid ounces (fl. oz.). There are two approved standards of fill that approximate this size - 50 mL, which is equivalent to 1.7 fl. oz., and 100 mL, which is equivalent to 3.4 fl. oz.  See TTB’s net contents and standards of fill page for related information.

Labeling.  Wineries are not required to obtain new certificates of label approval (COLAs) for wines that are covered by an existing COLA but that will be bottled in different sizes from those listed on the COLA.   Changes in net contents are allowable revisions listed on TTB Form 5100.31 (section V, item 10).

The size of a 50 mL or 100 mL container may make it difficult to shrink an existing label and have it remain legible. If a winery needs to, it can modify an existing, approved label by deleting some or all non-mandatory information, including text, illustrations, and graphics, and repositioning the remaining information to create a label that fits on the smaller container and is legible. Such changes are also allowable revisions listed on TTB Form 5100.31 (section V, items 1 and 2). Please review TTB Form 5100.31 for more information about making these allowable revisions and review the wine labeling home page for information about what information on a wine label is mandatory.

A winery shrinking an existing, approved label to fit on a smaller container must also ensure that the resulting label complies with the type size regulations in 27 CFR part 4, which require all the mandatory information on a container of 187 mL or less to appear in text of at least 1 mm.

If the wine is not covered by an approved COLA, or if a winery wants to obtain a COLA for a new label for the smaller containers, the new label can simply include the mandatory label information at the minimum type size.

Health Warning Statement.  ABLA requires a health warning statement to appear on the label of any alcoholic beverage bottled for sale or distribution in the United States or for distribution to members or units of the U.S. Armed Forces located outside of the country.  (See 27 U.S.C. 215.)  This requirement is described, along with examples, here.

Tax, Recordkeeping, and Reporting.  As noted earlier, wine removed for shipment to consumers is treated the same as any other removal of wine subject to tax from wine premises under the IRC.  Among other things, the winery must determine and pay the tax, keep records, and file reports including the removals as described in 27 CFR part 24.

Other Applicable Laws and Regulations. Wineries are responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable State and local laws, including the laws of the States and localities into which the wine is being shipped.  TTB provides a list of contact information for State alcohol regulatory agencies, which may be helpful in this regard.  Also note that Federal law (18 U.S.C. 1716) prohibits sending alcohol beverages through the U.S. mail; the winery may contact a private courier service (such as UPS or FedEx, among others) for shipment options.