"Sonoma County" labelling requirement

How do those of you affected feel about the possible change?

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20091219/BUSINESS/912199987/1339?Title=Made-in-Sonoma-County" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

No comment.

Well, one comment:

[swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif] [swearing.gif]

I think they should change it to “Sonora County.”

That, to me, would make much more sense. :wink:

Are you one of those people who “doesn’t like being told what to do”?

Isn’t the problem that by default the TTB doesn’t allow the use of multiple AVAs in labelling?
As a consumer I think that wineries should be allowed to put any information on their labels that they want to, provided it’s true.
It annoys me when wineries use generic appellations when more specific AVAs could apply,
or when I see an AVA listed that I’m not familiar with and don’t know where it’s from.

Great… now my Keefer Ranch and Graham Family bottlings will have to say

“Green Valley of Russian River Valley of Sonoma County”

Lovely. I’ll have to get fatter bottles just to fit all that text. [suicide.gif]

I think they should all be required to list California on the label. And Pacific Coast and probably United States. Required, not optional. After all, the whole appellation labeling regulations are supposed to be about helping the consumer understand the unique regions and climates where a wine was produced. Oh, and maybe to help a winery that produces undistinguished wines to ride on the coattails of those that try a little harder.


The Napa chapter of the Sierra Club is pushing to add the number of Native Oak trees that were removed from the specific vineyards, during the course of raping the land to plant non-native grape varietals. Al Gore claims he discovered that the removal of the native oak trees has compounded the problems of global warming.

So Napa doesn’t suffer alone, I’ve notified Al that Sonoma County USED to have Oak trees and let him know that the Monterey Pine removal in the Central Coast area has caused sufficient global warming that a chunk of ice broke off the polar cap and is now an ice berg threatening shipping in the North Atlantic. (We shouldn’t suffer alone.)

Time to reread 1984? When’s the last time you watched Soylent Green?

I like the general idea.

Of course wine geeks know the AVAs of Sonoma County… but the casual wine drinker does not, the young/new/intrigued wine drinker does not, and so on.

But… everybody knows Napa. Why? Maybe/partially because they put ‘Napa’ on every bottle. If it just said Rutherford, Oakville, Mount Veeder, or Howell Mountain it could be confused with Russian River, Dry Creek, and Chalk Hill (not to you guys obviously, but the wine geek to be in New York City, Houston, etc.).

I put the appellation and Sonoma County on every bottle, and don’t believe it is an issue at all. Here is an example:

After saying all of that, do I think it needs to be required? No, not really. But I wish more Sonoma County wineries would market ‘Sonoma’ a little better.

exactly. consumers seem to forget - or better, do not know - that RRV, Bennett Valley, Knight’s Valley, Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, (among others) are sub-regions of the Sonoma County AVA. better marketing is necessary for continued success for the region. i don’t see where putting “Sonoma County” on labels is that much of a hardship for producers.

Sure, they should be able to put Sonoma County on the label if they want. As far as being informative, a Green Valley pinot and a Knights Valley cabernet were both grown in Sonoma County, but that’s a political boundary. If a winery believes it will be useful from a marketing standpoint, they will probably use the text. But I don’t see why a winery should be required to use the text because a group of wineries thinks it will help them.


Exactly. I can see that adding “Sonoma County” on a label might be of some benefit (at least to some wineries, but maybe not all of them), but do we really need a new state law to require what is really just a wine marketing / PR tool?

There is a difference between Sonoma County and Napa Valley. Sonoma County is a political zone, while Napa Valley is an AVA.
By forcing wineries to put Napa Valley on their label, the Napa growers are basically forcing wineries to use at least 85% of grapes sourced in Napa.
With Sonoma County on the label, only 75% of the grapes need to be sourced in Sonoma.
So if a Russian River wine (85% grapes from RRV) also adds Sonoma County on the label, it might help name recognition for those wineries that only want to use 75% of Sonoma grapes.
BTW, the article talks about a Sonoma County Appelation (that does not exist) and 12 sub appellations (a definition that does not exist in AVA). Sloppy article me think.

You forgot “of California”

Eric- your label looks great.

We put 14 months of hard work into designing our label, and I don’t need to be told what to have to put on my label, and I sure as hell don’t want other folks deciding what is best for me. The additional verbiage may work great on your label- for us (we tried it during our design) it became too busy. So while it may not be an issue for you- it’s an issue for me.

As far as Sonoma County wineries “marketing Sonoma a little better”, I am on the Board of Driectors for the Russian River Valley Winegrowers, and I’m also a board member/past chariman of the Russian River Pinot Forum. The latter group promotes RR Pinot, but does so in conjunction with the Son Cty Grape Commission who presents info to our guests (60 different high-end sommeliers from across America who we host at great expense each year) on Sonoma County grapes as a whole, and during the event (and in post-event contact) members present wines other than RR Pinot. Neither group is about promoting my brand, but about branding this place (which ultimately serves us all, myself included).

Together, the two groups (and the various committees on which I serve) require a great deal of my personal time, commitment and effort; time I could be doing a lot of other things. I love this place- and I tirelessly flog the “Sonoma County” concept at every opportunity- anyone who reads local media knows that (especially when I also have a chance to drub Napa). I’m not seeking praise for what I do- just don’t include me among those not “marketing Sonoma County a little better”.

Your belief that some folks need to “market Sonoma County a little harder” is not a bad one. But those people (and I dont mean you because I don’t know you or what you do to promote Sonoma County- besides putting it on your label) who want this law ought to first examine what they are actually doing to “market Sonoma County a little harder”- then come talk to me about what they think I should put on my label. Otherwise, they ought to back the #$%* off.

Wow- is that as grouchy as it seems? I’d better not hit se


I appreciate the feedback, and it did not come off as grouchy to me one bit. Please know that my suggestion of Sonoma being marketed a little better was extremely general. I know many, many people like yourself do a fantastic job of putting Sonoma on the map. In fact, I know several people personally that do the same… much, much more than I do.

The situation I see all too often, however, is when I am pouring (for example) for a younger, newly successful businessman from New York. He is intrigued by wine, has learned quite a bit, but when I mention Dry Creek or Russian River, the response is a confused “That’s in Sonoma?” When I describe that Sonoma Valley is closer to Napa than it is to the Russian River… again, surprise. I like the idea of people starting to realize the grand diversity of Sonoma County, and it would be nice if Sonoma was as synonomous with ‘Wine Country’ as Napa is.

And again for the record, I don’t think it should be required, but I don’t really mind if it is. I’m sorry for you, John, and others who’s labels will now be too busy. That would get on my nerves, too. Especially if I have been around for a number of years. And thank you for the compliment on my label, by the way. [thumbs-up.gif]

I knew it!