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What is the requirement when naming a wine’s appellation on a wine label?

To name a wine’s appellation on the label, such as ‘Napa Valley’ or ‘Sonoma Coast,’ at least 85% of the grapes must come from the named region. For wines such as our previous Gold Club feature, Big Guy Red and Big Guy White, the blends incorporate multiple regions and not one is over 85%, therefore, ‘California’ is designated on each label as its place of origin.

What is the requirement when naming specific vineyard on a wine label?

Many wineries list the vineyard name on the wine label to show where in the region the grapes were specifically grown. To do so, federal policy requires 95% of the grapes in the wine to be from that designated vineyard.

Is naming the wine type mandatory on a wine label?

Yes, naming a wine type is mandatory. A wine may be labeled by a grape or varietal, such as ‘Chardonnay,’ or it may be given a more generic name such as “Red Wine.” Prior to 1983, a wine labeled as a varietal was required to contain at least 51% of the named grape varietal and have the “taste, aroma, and characteristics” of the grape varietal. Beginning in 1983, wines using varietal names must derive at least 75% of their volume from the grape designated. With blends, many winemakers will list out the varietal composition on the back label.

Originally published in The Wine Press' Wine Wizard, Big Guy Wines edition featured in 2013.