ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Regarding Napa Valley vs. Napa County, there’s a further distinction. An AVA must be 95 percent of the vintage on the bottle, whereas a political designation (county) needs only 85 percent.

—Brian C., St.-Emilion, France

Dear Brian,

You make a good point. In my previous answer about the difference between labeling a wine Napa County and Napa Valley, I didn’t address that aspect of the labeling laws. You’re correct that there’s a distinction between the requirements for political boundaries and American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs, but your numbers are a little off.

For a political boundary, like a county or state name, at least 75 percent of the grapes that go into a wine are required to be from within the boundaries of the location on the label. Rules for an AVA, like Napa Valley, are slightly tougher, requiring at least 85 percent of the grapes to hail from the AVA. Thanks for bringing that up.

—Dr. Vinny


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