Yet another grape harvest is underway across California & the western states. The grape harvest is where the compliance “story” of a wine and all it’s relevant details begin. From a winery compliance perspective this correlates to the records that any winery is required to be maintaining in their files. At harvest those would primarily be the weigh tags, formally called weighmaster certificates here in California. Did you know that there is a direct connection to the details on your grape weigh tags and the details listed on your wine labels?
This direct connection backs into requirements by the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB), as well as the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (CA ABC) offices and their regulating authority. Both of these agencies have regulating authority related to wine labels.
For the TTB the connection between your wine labels and your grape weigh tags is any items such as a varietal, AVA, or vineyard name that appear on your wine labels must also appear on the weigh tags that documented the grapes that became those finished wines. The TTB considers a grape weigh tag a “source document” and will use them for verification purposes in the event of an audit of a bottled wine which tracks the wine’s details back from the wine label to the weigh tags.
For the CA ABC they are looking for a specific listing, or actually two on your wine labels both of which have to do with the appellation information listed there. In California we currently have four conjunctive labeling laws on the books, specific to four grape growing areas of the state. What each of these laws state is that if a “sub” AVA of one of these grape growing regions is listed on a wine label then the larger “parent” AVA must also be listed on the the label, either next to it, or on another part of the label(s). Those four areas by the way are: Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Lodi and Paso Robles.
Grape weigh tags are the “birth certificates” of the wine world. My suggestions are always to make them as specific and narrow as possible.
Concerned that your weigh tags are incomplete, inaccurate or wouldn’t pass TTB or CA ABC requirements?
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