Deanne Fitzmaurice / The Chronicle, 2007
After captivation their animation for six years, Napa Valley winemakers can now put the name “Calistoga” on wines fabricated from grapes developed in that celebrated town, federal regulators accept ruled.
The accommodation (read it actuality in PDF) ends a continued advance through authoritative red tape, and completes a acute allotment of the valley’s intricate arrangement for labeling its wines — one that stands to accomplish bottles from the breadth alike added valuable.
“We’re all accursed up,” said James “Bo” Barrett, freeholder of the Chateau Montelena winery, who began petitioning the Treasury Dept. in 2003. “I didn’t apprehend it was activity to be a federal project, but it angry out to be one.”
The accommodation by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Barter Bureau, which regulates U.S. wine and wine labels, will acquiesce any wine fabricated from grapes developed in the Calistoga appellation, surrounding the boondocks in arctic Napa County, to accommodate the name on the characterization starting aboriginal aing year. A accompaniment law backed by Napa vintners requires that the words “Napa Valley” additionally arise on labels.
“Today’s a acceptable day for us,” said Terry Hall, agent for the Napa Valley Vintners, the barter accumulation that represents abounding of the valley’s top wineries.
The vintners’ accumulation said that the approval came about in ample allotment because of efforts by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, to columnist the agency to booty action.
The address to add Calistoga to labels, clearly launched in 2005, hit a above snag in November 2007, aback the agency appear it was because alteration the rules for the approval action for abode names, or appellations.
Not surprisingly, some wineries name themselves afterwards their locale. Alike if they accomplish wine from grapes developed elsewhere, that name can wind up on the bottle. The government had about disqualified that aback an appellation was approved, wineries bare to stop application the abode name or alpha application grapes from the area. That was the attitude backed by best vintners, who believed that names should assure a faculty of place.
The Calistoga action wasn’t the aboriginal time this abstraction had been tested. The Napa Valley Vintners waged a diffuse cloister action adjoin Bronco Wine Co., maker of Two-Buck Chuck, over the use of “Napa” on wines developed elsewhere. The accumulation ultimately won aback the U.S. Supreme Cloister banned in 2006 to apprehend the case. In both cases, the vintners argued that putting abode names on grapes developed abroad was ambiguous to consumers.
But a winery called Calistoga Cellars protested that approach, arguing that it would brazier its business. Regulators hinted that they ability ancillary with them — and stop giving appellations priorities over cast names. The affray all but apoplectic the federal wine-naming action while the agency reconsidered its rules.
The action got addition adjournment aback the Obama administering took appointment and put on authority all Bush-era authoritative decisions. Afterwards months of lobbying by Thompson, regulators angry their absorption aback to Calistoga. Because consumers generally seek out bottles from absolute subappellations like Stags Leap District or Howell Mountain, the accommodation could accomplish Calistoga wines added admired over time.
As for Calistoga Cellars and added wineries application the name, they accept three years to alpha application grapes from aural the breadth or to change their name.
Calistoga Cellars co-owner Robert Young had no animadversion on the 48-page cardinal except to alarm it “disappointing.” He said his attorneys would analysis it. But he said he didn’t acquisition the three-year phaseout to be sufficient: “It apparently is not because you annihilate the brand.”
Barrett said those application Calistoga grapes are acquisitive to get the name on the label. A new characterization for Montelena’s 2008 Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon “went to the art administration today.” It will go on bottles aing spring.
He said he hopes that the owners of the afflicted wineries adjudge to buy bounded grapes and accumulate the name.
“This was never about accepting those guys,” Barrett said. “We acceptable them to the fold. It’s a big tent.”
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