This is a cautionary post for all the wineries that as a result of the low sugar levels in their fruit this year due to the lack of a summer decided to boost the sugar level of their batches of juice and must by adding grape concentrate. Beware that come bottling time for any of those finished wines that had concentrate added to them they will not be eligible for “Estate Bottled” on their label.
The TTB does allow for the addition of grape concentrate, which is grape juice that has been concentrated into a syrup and has a sugar level of about 70 brix. The primary use of this type of concentrate is of course for sweetening. As the grapes were arriving at the wineries this harvest with much lower than normal brix levels many had already decided to make the call to place an order for a concentrate delivery.
This decision was focused on a short term result; to boost the finished alcohol of the wine. The longer term result that also has to come into play is for the final stage of a wine’s life at bottling, and what it can or cannot qualify for on it’s label.
I have often referred to wines with the term “Estate Bottled” as the purebreds of the wine world. The TTB’s qualifications for use of this term are as follows:
For example, the term “estate bottle” is defined at Section 4.26(a) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.26(a)). Therefore, it can only be used if the wine is labeled with a viticultural area appellation of origin and the bottling winery:
• Is located in the labeled viticultural area;
• Grew all of the grapes used to make the wine on land owned or controlled by the winery within the boundaries of the labeled viticultural area; and
• Crushed the grapes, fermented the resulting must, and finished, aged, and bottled the wine in a continuous process (the wine at no time having left the premises of the bottling winery).
So with the addition of grape concentrate a wine is no longer pure enough to be called estate bottled in the eyes of the TTB. For the purposes of sticking to the parameters of what a term like estate bottled is meant to signify I agree with not allowing the addition of concentrate.
So at this stage in the game a winery that has been accustomed to using the term estate bottled on some or all of it’s labels they will want to make a note out on their compliance calendar to revise their labels and plan to re-submit for a new label approval as well.