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  
July 2014 $557 million
5%
$7,577 million
6%
July 2013 $533 million $7,128 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $61 million
9%
$1,674 million
10%
July 2013 $56 million $1,517 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 312
10%
222
19%
July 2013 283 187
     
 
MORE » Released on 08.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • August 29-31
     
    Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
     
  • August 30 - September 1
     
    Columbia Gorge Open House Weekend
     
  • September 5-6
     
    Windy City Wine Festival
     
  • September 11
     
    Women for WineSense "Women in Wine"
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Ledger David names first winemaker »
 
What a joy to have Kiley on the team! A lot of exciting things happening...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Useful Spanish for Wine Harvest »
 
you misspelled "zona" under Loading Area
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Early 2014 Grape Harvest Begins »
 
Thanks for mentioning Temecula and the South Coast appellation in your article. It is great...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
 


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
 Harvest Help
 Sebastopol, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Customer Service Repre...
 San Rafael, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Business Development M...
 Santa Rosa, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Employee
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Central Region Manager
 Chicago, IL
Sales and Marketing
 Wine Educators
 Rutherford, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Wine & Spirits Sales C...
 Crested Butte, CO
Sales and Marketing
 Viticulturist
 Livermore, CA
Vineyards
 Order Processing Clerk
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Retail Sales Professio...
 San Francisco, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 
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.