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Teaching An Old Wine a New AVA.

A recent discussion came up on Facebook around the use of newly created AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) on wine labels made from vintages pre the AVA’s existence. The discussion was around the recently created AVA of Coombsville in eastern Napa. The question that came up was would that be allowable under the TTB’s labeling regulations? i.e. If you are about to bottle a 2009 wine and wanted to put Coombsville (which became an AVA in December 2011) as an AVA on the label could you do this?

My initial response was yes that would be allowed per TTB regulations since as long as at least 85% of the grapes in a wine blend came from within the AVA’s boundaries & the AVA was in existence at the time of bottling then you meet the qualifications to use it on your label.

Though I felt confident this was the accurate answer I still wanted to receive official confirmation so I contacted Mari Kirrane, Wine Technical Trade Advisor with the TTB. Mari is a hugely helpful resource for all sorts of random wine compliance questions related to TTB permits, records and reports. She confirmed that my initial response was correct. The ALFD (Alcohol Labeling & Formulation Division) the TTB agency that processes all label approvals will issue label approvals for labels with newly effective AVAs after the effective date of the AVA. The vintage of the wine itself does not come into play.

With this latest addition there are now 16 sub AVA’s of the umbrella Napa Valley AVA. The map makers are challenged to keep up with maintaining the most current version of Napa Counties AVAs. My image here is a most current map of all 16 sub-AVAs of Napa Valley. The company that produces these is Vestra out of Redding, CA.  If you’d like to view the full list both the TTB’s website ( and the Wine Institute’s site have them available. (

Lastly, thanks to Steve Heimoff & the Wine Aficionados group on Facebook for turning me onto this blog post topic.