USA Wine Laws and Regulations

Courtesy of Jairo Sanchez

Following please find a summary of USA Wine Laws and regulations taken from Wine Bible, Second Edition, 2015, from author Karen McNeil.

Although winemakers in the USA have considerable creative freedom to make whatever sort of wine they want, there are several important federal rules and regulations wine producers must abide by. These are administered by the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) under whose jurisdiction wine falls. Here is a quick summary of the most important laws.

  • When a wine is labeled with an American Viticultura Area (AVA) at least 85% of the grapes that make up the wine must come from that AVA.
  • In place of an AVA, a wine can be labeled by County. In this case at least 75% of the grapes must come from that County.
  • In place of an AVA a wine may be labeled by state. Wines labeled by state must contain at least 75% wine from that state. Some states, however,  require higher percentages. In California, 100% of the wine must be from California. In Washington state , 95% of the wine must be from Washington State.
  • When a grape variety is named on the label, the wine most be composed of at least 75% of that variety . Again some states have stricter rules . In Oregon, this percentage has been raised to 90% for the most planted grapessuch as pinot noir and chardonnay. (But for wine made from may varietiesgrown in small amounts in Oregon  -cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc,  merlot, malbec, sauvignon blanc, and others- the percentage remains at 75%.)
  • When a vintage is declared on the label,, 95% of the wine must be from that vintage.
  • All bottles of wines made in the USA are required to carry a warning about the dangers of alcohol and to indicate that the wine contains sulfites.

Wine Bible, Second Edition