Saturday, January 13, 2007

Whose wine do I have?

~The following are designations you will find on American wine labels.

Estate Bottled
Grown, Produced and Bottled By
Produced and Bottled By
Made and Bottled By
Cellared and Bottled By
Vinted (is there such a word in English?) and Bottled By
Prepared and Bottled By
Either Produced, Made, Cellared, Vinted, or Prepared plus either Packed or Blended By
Imported By or Bottled (Packed) in the United States For…

~All the above phrases are on wine labels to inform us. I suspect, however, that the real reason for them has to do with making sure that the federal agency responsible for collecting excise tax revenue has a lead to the paper trail, but let us not be cynical.
~Let us assume that the phrases are information for us; what, then, do they mean?
~First, here is a statement I found in the government regulations:

“No term other than Estate Bottled may be used on a label to indicate combined growing and bottling conditions.”

~I bring up the above comment because it illustrates how confusing this post might be.
If it is true that only the term Estate Bottled may be used to indicate combined growing and bottling conditions, then what in the world does Grown, Produced and Bottled By indicate? I know I have seen that phrase many times, but I could not locate it in the regulations.
~Perhaps, Bob Ross can find the regulation of that phrase for us.
~In any event, Estate Bottled means that the wine company named on the label had dominion over all aspects of the process, from growing the grapes to corking the bottles—screw capping them if the winery is progressive. But there is a slight catch, which makes me wonder about the term Estate Bottled.
~To use the words Produced By or Made By, the wine producer had to have fermented not less than 75% of the volume of wine represented in the bottle. Does that mean that an Estate Bottled wine doesn’t necessarily all have to be fermented by the estate? Sure sounds like it.
~Calling Bob again!
~Here’s another quote from the regulations:

“Cellared, Vinted or Prepared means that the named winery, at the stated address, subjected the wine to cellar treatment in accordance with §4.22(c)”

~I hope you don’t really want me to go into what that 4.22 says about what cellar treatment means—I’d have you sleeping soon enough. Suffice to say, cellar treatment has nothing to do with fermenting (making) the wine. So, whenever you see any one of the three words—cellared, vinted, prepared—the operative words that follow are the address of the licensee, which could very well be (but doesn’t have to be) what is known as a virtual winery, a place that has a license but no real winemaking facility of its own.
~After reading the regulations it occurred to me that a wine labeled cellared, vinted or prepared by so and so number 1 could very well be the same wine that is cellared, vinted or prepared by so and so number 2, 3, or 4 and at varying prices; plus, each winery that puts the wine on the market doesn’t have to have had much of anything to do with producing the wine. That’s one way to handle a wine glut.
~What bothers me most is that I used to think that it was safe to believe Estate Bottled By and Grown, Produced and Bottled By assured me that one producer had a hand in all the volume of wine in that bottle, either starting in the vineyard or at least as juice. But while researching for this post I developed the distinct feeling that I have been wrong all along.
~The following is another quote from the regulations:

“If the wine was bottled or packed in the United States, the label shall also state one of the following: Bottled by” or “packed by” followed by the name of the bottler or packer and the address of the place where the wine was bottled or packed; or if the wine was bottled or packed for the person responsible for the importation, the words “imported by and bottled (packed) in the United States for” followed by the name and address of the principal place of business in the United States of the person responsible for the importation…”

~The above is one of the few areas in the voluminous regulations that is not qualified with “wherefores” and “in accordance with” and “75% of” verbiage.
~It appears the only words on the label that assure me of anything regarding who was responsible for the various stages of the wine production are the words that follow Bottled By, that would be a name and an address.
~Am I right Bob? Here's a link, try to figure it out... regs

Copyright, Thomas Pellechia
January 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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