In the Wine Light – American Viticultural Areas

AVAs for North Carolina

American Viticultural Areas in North Carolina

In the Wine Light we’re revisiting our series on American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) with a particular focus on the six AVAs in North Carolina.  Over the next few months, we’ll dive into each of these six North Carolina AVAs.  We’ll also look at the seventh proposed AVA that’s pending approval.

But we’ll start with what is an AVA.  The Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is the government agency charged with approving and designating new AVAs.  Per their website:

An American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is a specific type of appellation of origin used on wine labels. An AVA is a delimited grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions and affect how grapes are grown. Using an AVA designation on a wine label allows vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wines to consumers and helps consumers identify wines they may purchase.

So, an AVA is a designated grape-growing region within the United States that has specific geographic features or a unique climate that distinguishes it from other grape growing regions.  Our AVAs are similar to appellation designations in France (AOC/AOP) and Italy (DOC/DOCG) although not as stringent.  For example, American AVAs don’t restrict what grapes can be grown in a given AVA .

An AVA designation allows winemakers to taut the unique terroir of a particular region. Some AVAs come with a level of prestige allowing wines to claim higher selling prices.  A wine with an AVA designation must be made of at least 85% of the grapes in the wine having been grown within the AVA.

According to the TTB’s website, to establish a new AVA, you must have these three things:

  1. A proposed name, as well as evidence showing that the name is currently used to describe the region of the proposed AVA.
  2. A description of the geographic and/or climatic features that distinguish the proposed AVA from the surrounding regions and have an effect on how grapes are grown, along with evidence to support your claims of these distinctive features.
  3. A written description of the proposed AVA boundary and the appropriate U.S.G.S topographic maps with the boundary drawn on it.

The petition undergoes a lengthy review and approval process sometimes taking years.

What would you like to know about AVAs in North Carolina?  Leave us a comment.

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #AVA

Posted by Joe Brock


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