Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesdays

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies is: Appellation

My mother tells this great story about a few years ago she visited New Mexico to meet up with several friends for a reunion.  Their host took them to one of the local winery-touristy spots where wine was produced and sold. The biggest highlight for this winery was their pistachio flavored wine. A semi-sweet blend of red and white grapes, with the nutty flavor of pistachios. My mother patiently listened to the winemaker tell his story about their wines and when it was time for Q&A, my mother asked about the "New Mexico" appellations. The winemaker immediately snapped at her and said, "Listen lady, there are no apples in any of the wines I make ..."    

An appellation is legally defined as a protected growing region. The rules that govern appellations are dependent on the country in which the wine is produced. Specifically in the United States we refer to these areas as an "AVA" - short for "American Viticultural Area."  The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) determines and sanctions all United States appellations. The only requirement to use the appropriate AVA names (such as Walla Walla or Columbia Valley) on the wine label is that 85% of the wine must have come from grapes grown within the geographical AVA boundaries.

In Washington State alone there are a total of 12 AVAs, with more expected to be added in the near future. The current Washington AVA's: Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley, Puget Sound, Red Mountain, Columbia Gorge, Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope, Rattlesnake Hills, Snipes Mountain, Lake Chelan and Naches Heights. (Note: the map does not include Naches Heights)

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