California and Washington
The brand name is used by the bottler to identify the product. The
brand name is of utmost importance since many wines are purchased based
solely on the producer's reputation. Any brand name is acceptable so
long that it does not mislead the consumer.
A vintage date on the label indicates that 95% or more of the wine
is produced from grapes grown in that year. If no date is present then
the wine is most likely a blend from grapes grown in different years.
The names of the dominant grapes are used in the wine. A varietal
designation on the label means that at least 75% of that grape variety
is used in the wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay are examples of grape varieties.
Wines that do not have the 75% of a single grape variety often
have proprietary names or may be designated such as "Red Table Wine."
Appellation of Origin
The place in which the dominant grapes used in the wine are grown.
A country, state, county, region, appellation or vineyard on the label
means that at least 75% of the wine is produced from grapes grown in
the place named. Examples include California, North Coast, Sonoma
County and Santa Maria Valley.
American Viticultural Area (AVA)
An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is an officially recognized
well-defined grape-growing region with soil, climate, and geographic
features which set it apart from the surrounding areas. An AVA
designation on the label indicates that 85% or more of the wine is
produced from grapes grown in the particular AVA. Carneros, North
Coast, Stag's Leap District and Dry Creek Valley are examples.
"Estate Bottled" means that 100% of the wine came from grapes
grown on land owned or controlled by the winery, located in the
viticultural area. The winery then crushes and ferments the grapes,
finishes, ages, processes and bottles the wine in one continuous
operation. This is sometimes indicated as "grown, produced and bottled
In the case where the winery and the winery's own vineyards are
not in the same viticultural area, the winery may designate that the
wine has been "Proprietor Grown."
Produced and Bottled by
This indicates that the winery crushed, fermented and bottled a
minimum of 75% of the wine in this bottle. It does not mean that the
winery grew the grapes used in the wine.
Made and Bottled by
This indicates that a minimum of 10% of the wine was fermented at
the winery. In general, this may infer a lesser quality wine than
"estate bottled" or "produced and bottled by" designations.
Vinted and Bottled by
Usually the same as "made and bottled by."
This is the percentage of alcohol by volume of the wine. By U.S.
law, wines may have a minimum of 7 percent to a maximum of 14 percent
alcohol and must be within 1.5 percent of the actual alcohol content
(but within the stated limits). Ports have a legal range of 18 to 20
percent and Sherries have a 17 to 20 percent range.
The common practice of filtering or fining wines to remove
sediment can sometimes remove some of the wine's flavor or body. A
winemaker that chooses to bottle a wine without filtering or fining
will usually label it as such. It is not uncommon to find a small
amount of harmless sediment in these bottles.
Since the term "reserve" has no legal meaning in the U.S., wineries
may use this term to designate a special bottling (i.e. "Show Reserve")
or limited production. In some cases a winery will use the term as a
marketing tool and has no other meaning.