California Gets 13 New AVAs
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is granting new American Viticulture Areas (AVA’s) with the same frequency that Biogenesis distributes steroids to professional athletes. In 2012, there were 206 registered AVA’s in the United States. During the past couple of years, that number has increased markedly.
Many states, including North Carolina new AVA designations. But California, already home to more than 50% of all AVAs, is leading the pack. The most recent additions include the new AVA called Eagle Peak Mendocino County, 11 new sub-AVAs, all part of the Paso Robles AVA, as well as, Malibu Coast.
The Newest California AVAs
Beginning on November 10, growers will be able to label wines produced in the Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA with the new moniker. The new region encompasses approximately 26,260 acres. It is part of the greater North Coast AVA, located about 125 miles north of San Frsmcisco. As strange as it may sound, despite the name, Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA is not situated within the already-established Mendocino AVA, nor is it a sub-region. Thankfully, Eagle Peak Mountain, a prominent topography feature, and rising 2,700 feet above sea level is delimited to the region.
The distinguishing characteristics include a marine influence climate, strong breezes, shallow soils with low-holding water capabilities, and a mountainous terrain.
Paso Robles, in its quest for new sub-regions wins the prize for the longest and most detailed proposal ever filed with the TTB. Paso may have been feeling like the Rodney Dangerfield of wine regions. Prior to the establishment of the new AVA’s, Paso Robles was the largest undivided AVA within California. In comparison, the Napa Valley, which is two thirds smaller, currently has 11 sub-appellations. Now, the two prominent regions are even. Paso Robles AVA Map
With the division in place, the hope is winemakers will be able to show the diversity of the soil and weather of each region, in essence the terroir. The distinguishing attributes also include average annual rainfall ranging from 11 to 29 inches and altitude rising from 600 feet to over 2,400 feet above sea level.
Taking effect on November 10th, the 11 new sub-appellations are as follows:
- Adelaida District
- Creston District
- El Pomar Paso District
- Paso Robles Estrella
- Paso Robles Highlands
- Paso Robles Genesso
- Paso Robles Willow Creek
- San Juan Creek
- San Miguel district
- Santa Margarita Ranch
- Templeton Gap
The timing of this announcement is perfect as it coincides with the Paso Robles Wine Harvest Celebration on Oct 17-19.
In July, two existing AVA’s, Malibu-Newton Canyon and Saddle Rock-Malibu became sub-appellations of the new, greater Malibu Coast AVA. With a size of approximately 44,590 acres, it includes portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Boundaries were also redrawn as a result of the addition. If a winery wishes to use a specific AVA name on a wine bottle label, at least 85% of the grapes must have been grown in the region.
Do Wine Drinkers Care?
Winemakers in all of these new AVA’s will now have to accept the challenge of demonstrating the subtle differences to consumers. Will wine drinkers recognize and/or appreciate these hard-fought battles for new AVA status?
If nothing else, it’s a great excuse to get out and visit wine country.