Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
05.11.2010  
 

Consensus for Sonoma Wine Labels

Countywide and AVA organizations will draft act mandating 'Sonoma County' designation

 
by Jane Firstenfeld
 
 
Sonoma AVAs
 
Numerous Sonoma County wineries already employ conjunctive labeling that includes the AVA and Sonoma County. This would become mandatory should proposed legislation be signed into law.
Santa Rosa, Calif. -- If everything goes according to plan, all regionally designated wines produced from Sonoma County grapes will be required to include “Sonoma County” on their labels beginning in 2014. Yesterday, leaders of the Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, Sonoma County Tourism Bureau and regional associations representing the county’s 13 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) announced they had achieved a consensus to pursue what’s known as “conjunctive labeling.”

The groups’ Presidents Council will draft legislation to be introduced in the California State Legislature; if the measure is signed into law, it could go into effect as early as Jan. 1, 2011. Producers would have a three-year phase-in period to allow for design changes and required TTB label approvals.

Although the initiative was formally launched at the Sonoma County Vintners’ annual meeting Jan. 20, 2010, the idea has been floating around for much longer. According to SCV executive director Honore Comfort, “We’ve been working on it for almost 18 months, starting last year at a meeting with the marketing committees of SCV and the SCWC. It’s an initiative that’s actually been on the table for about 15 years.”

The concept of legally mandated conjunctive labeling already has been put into practice by the Napa Valley, Lodi and Paso Robles AVAs. Napa adopted the notion in 1987, Comfort told Wines & Vines. “It’s been a very important part of Napa’s ability to build its image and reputation as a wine region, with consistency across brands and time,” she said. “Consumers want to know where their wines come from.”

Previous efforts in Sonoma did not progress, Comfort said, “Because the environment was not conducive to build consensus.” She credited the formation of the SCWC in 2006, and close alliances with the individual AVA associations, for the measure’s current progress. “We worked together to advance this program, despite the fiercely independent spirit of our industry. We recognized that the environment of cooperation and collaboration had started to evolve. Now we’re at a point where we think we can make this work.”

After the pivotal marketing meeting last year, SCWC commissioned WineOpinions to conduct market research among consumers and the wine trade last fall. The study sampled 889 core wine consumers (those who buy the majority of wine over $10 in the U.S.). Results showed that these consumers “preferred labels that included Sonoma County along with the AVA,” and that this preference was most significant for newer, less established AVAs.

Perhaps even more critically, more than 80% of the wine trade surveyed recommended the addition of Sonoma County to wine labels, in addition to the AVA.

According to WineOpinions’ Christian Miller, who commented on the issue on Tom Wark’s Fermentation blog, “Pinot Noir labeled Russian River Valley, Sonoma County was perceived as high in quality and price as the one labeled just Russian River Valley. In fact, the conjunctively labeled version was actually slightly higher in average rating.”

Armed with this positive research, the Presidents Council announced its intentions and reached out to the AVA groups. “We partnered with them, and asked them to share this information with their constituents,” Comfort recalled. “We engaged in a dialogue, and the consensus came back very clear.”
Sonoma AVAs
 
Although not all the stakeholders are convinced, these wineries chose voluntarily to use both their AVAs and Sonoma County.
Some remain dubious
She acknowledged that there remains some opposition. “We worked hard to listen to their concerns, understand them, and try to mitigate these concerns, including the three-year window,” to phase in proposed changes. The draft legislation will, she said, closely follow the successful model employed by Napa, Lodi and Paso Robles, which allows for considerable latitude in label design.

“It does not specify a font size, although there must be a relationship between type styles: It must be legible, as is the required alcohol content. But there is so much flexibility. It’s not our intention to design labels for wineries,” Comfort said. She urged vintners who remain dubious to look at examples from Napa, Lodi and Paso wineries for reassurance. Representatives from each AVA will be invited to participate in the process. “We want no surprises,” Comfort said. “We want everyone to be familiar with this bill.”

Comfort is hopeful the proposed legislation will pass promptly and without problems. “The industry asked for this,” she said. She is optimistic that California lawmakers will be eager to support “a major driver of the Sonoma business sector.

“Our intention all along, with the leadership of Sonoma’s vintners, growers and AVA groups, was to make this an engaged, informed, collaborative process.

“You’d be amazed at the questions we get (about appellations), even from sophisticated wine consumers,” she said. “This measure is important in building the identity of Sonoma County and the individual AVAs.

Once the legislation becomes law, Comfort said, it will become part of federal TTB labeling guidelines.
 
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $546 million
5%
$6,988 million
7%
March 2014 $572 million $7,451 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 $177 million
20%
$1,483 million
10%
March 2014 $213 million $1,634 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
March 2013 253
15%
166
27%
March 2014 292 210
     
 
MORE » Released on 04.14.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wines & Vines
Packaging Conference
 
Learn More »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • April 23-26
     
    CABs of Distinction in Paso Robles
     
  • April 26
     
    Siera Pelona Valley wine festival
     
  • April 27
     
    TAPAS Grand Tasting
     
  • April 29
     
    Rendez-Vous Laffort
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Starbucks Expands Wine Sales to More Cities »
 
Pretty amazing that the 1st wines chosen are from Argentina, Italy, and New Zealand! I...
Reader: Jacques Brix
 
Article: Starbucks Expands Wine Sales to More Cities »
 
Given Starbucks commitment to sustainability and global responsibility, I expect this move could be a...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: What to Do About Red Blotch »
 
There is NO correlation with planting density. Also FPS is working on the problem. New...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Premiere Wine Auction Nets $5.9 million »
 
Thanks for letting us know Janet, we've updated the story. Cheers
Reader: Andrew Adams
 
Article: Will Barrels Go the Way of Floppy Disks? »
 
Fun piece. Particularly enjoyed the three clearly superior attributes of standard barrels, including looking cool...
Reader: Tom Gable
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Wholesale Customer Ser...
 Sonoma, CA
General Administration and
 Financial Accountant &...
 St. Helena, CA
Finance
 Sales Representative
 San Francisco/East Bay, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Seasonal Skilled Cella...
 Healdsburg, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Tasting Room Associate
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Associate
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Server
 Healdsburg, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Busser
 Healdsburg, CA
General Administration and
 Host
 Healdsburg, CA
General Administration and
 Associate Marketing Ma...
 Napa, CA
Sales and Marketing
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.