By Michael Kaiser
On Thursday, January 20 the TTB released updated rules on the approval process of American Viticultural Areas. Essentially the process for approval is the same. The applicants will still need to file a petition with the TTB with significant evidence to support the establishment of a new AVA.
The TTB issues a notice of proposed rulemaking in November 2007 requesting comment on the establishment of new rules. Most notably, the TTB implemented a "grandfather" clause that would have allowed the use of geographic brand names even if the winery in question was not sourcing their grapes from the AVA in question. This has been dropped in the final rule.
TTB decided against imposing specific minimum acreage size or vineyards density for new AVAs. They did stress that the grape-growing in the proposed region be of sufficient scope.
The TTB is still stressing their ultimate authority to deny AVA applications and to require more specific information from petitioners. They did not go as far enough to constrain the approval of smaller viticultural areas embedded with larger viticultural areas.
WineAmerica will have a more in depth analysis of this final rule after the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium next week.
To read the final rule please visit this website: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-1138.pdf