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California vintners, regulators agree on diluted rules for wine regions

on 21/01/11 at 11:13 am

California winemakers have successfully pruned some labeling regulations they feared could hurt business, following a long behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign.After being pressed by everyone from the Paso Robles, Calif., mayor to California’s congressional delegation, Treasury Department officials on Thursday updated the rules for designating viticultural areas. They stopped short of what officials once proposed.

“The changes provide clearer regulatory standards for the establishment of (viticultural areas) and clarify the rules,” Treasury Department regulators stated.

The new rules govern winemakers who want federal approval for regional names they can put on labels, such as the existing Santa Maria Valley, Sierra Foothills and Lodi viticultural areas. There are currently some 198 recognized winegrowing regions, most in California.

The rule changes aren’t nearly as dramatic as originally proposed three years ago, and that appears to please a wine industry that once opposed the changes.

“We’re fine with it,” Wine Institute spokeswoman Nancy Light said Thursday. “We’re pleased with the final rule.”

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