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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is the difference between an estate and a single-vineyard wine?

—Mike B., San Diego

Dear Mike,

An estate wine can come from many vineyards, as long as all are owned or controlled by the "estate" winery, while a single-vineyard wine may be made from a vineyard that's not owned by the winery that bottles it. A wine can be both estate-bottled and meet the criteria for a single-vineyard designation.

An estate-bottled wine is made entirely from grapes owned by the winery, and the wine is made entirely on the winery's property—it doesn't ever leave the property during fermentation, aging, or bottling. The winery and vineyards don't have to be contiguous, but they have to be located in the same appellation. In the U.S., the "estate" term has been expanded to include not only vineyards owned by a wine label, but also ones that are managed or controlled by the winery, even if they're actually owned by someone else.

To list a vineyard or ranch on a label, laws vary slightly, but the grapes must come entirely (or nearly entirely—U.S. law is 95 percent) from that single property. There are no rules governing which vineyards qualify for designation on a label; that's up to the winery. And many wineries produce wines from vineyards they neither own nor control; these could be single-vineyard wines, but they couldn't be estate wines.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories