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,

What’s the difference between a winery and a cellar? Correct me if I am wrong, but a winery must produce the grapes, right?

—Wayne G., Silverlake, Wash.

Dear Wayne,

There’s no distinction in U.S. wine law between “Winery,” “Cellar,” and any similar terms that might appear on a label. As far as wine brands go, I can call my label “Dr. Vinny Winery,” “Dr. Vinny Cellars” or “Dr. Vinny Vineyards,” and the wine police aren’t going to arrest me if I don't own a winery, a cellar or a vineyard, and instead purchase grapes and make and age my wine at a rented facility.

Technically speaking, a wine cellar is a place where wine is stored long-term (as opposed to a wine cooler, which is designed to keep wine at a consistent, cool temperature so that it’s ready to be served). You’re right that “winery” refers to a place where wine is made. Sometimes the terms are used a little interchangeably—if you think about it, making wine requires moments when you need to cellar it, say, if you're aging it in oak barrels before bottling.

—Dr. Vinny


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