U.S. Wine Growers Urge Feds To Protect Their Labels

In a letter to Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) Administrator John Manfreda, grower groups urged the bureau to publish for public comment two long-standing petitions that address wine labeling issues. Leaders of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, Oregon Winegrowers Association, New York Wine Grape Growers, and California Farm Bureau signed the letter, dated April 20, 2011.

“Consumers and growers deserve clear and honest wine labeling,” said John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. “For years now, these petitions have languished at TTB and it is time the bureau take action to ensure label integrity.”

Aguirre’s counterpart in Washington, Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, agreed that this was a consumer issue. “Honestly, this has become ridiculous; the wine growers of the U.S. deserve a timely response and over two years is not timely,” she said. “These labeling issues must be resolved to assure U.S. consumers confidence in our wines.”

The American appellation of origin petition was filed with TTB on November 25, 2008 by four grower groups: California Association of Winegrape Growers, Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, New York Wine Grape Growers and the Oregon Winegrowers Association. The petition asked that wines labeled with American appellations of origins be made of American wine.

The second petition, addressing imitation wines, was submitted to TTB on May 27, 2009 by the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, Oregon Winegrowers Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation. This petition argues that wine products with added water, sugar or flavors and which are allowed to bear the statement of composition, “Table Wine with Natural Flavors,” should instead be labeled “imitation wine.”

Go to www.cawg.org to read the letter sent to TTB.

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