American Viticulture Area

by Cindy Barnett | June 05, 2012

An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a term used to define different grape growing regions throughout the United States, distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the United States Department of the Treasury. The Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau defines An American Viticultural Area at the request of wineries and other petitioners. When a winery in the United States wants to tell you the geographic lineage of its wine, it uses a tag on its label called an Appellation of Origin. This tag must meet federal and state legal requirements. If you see California on a wine label, the wine inside could be made from grapes grown anywhere in California. If the label states the wine is from Napa County, then a minimum of 85% of the grapes must have been grown in Napa County. Prior to the installation of the American Viticultural Area system, wine Appellations of Origin in the United States were designated based on state or county boundaries. All of these appellations were grandfathered into federal law and may appear on wine labels as designated places of origin, but these appellations are distinct from American Viticultural Areas.

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