Eleven wineries located in a 350-acre mountainous stretch of California's El Dorado County will be able to label their latest releases with the Fair Play American Viticultural Area designation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has approved the proposed appellation for use on wine labels beginning April 27.
"We are the epitome of what 'appellation' means," said Brian Fitzpatrick, owner of Fitzpatrick Winery, which is in the new Fair Play AVA. "We have such a small unit [of wineries] where everything is similar. Fair Play has unique soil and no irrigation, and that makes a big difference for the 11 wineries [in the area] that are open and two or three more in the wings."
Up until now, the 11 wineries located in the Fair Play appellation labeled their wines with either the El Dorado or Sierra Foothills appellations. But because of the area's unique granite and sandy loam soil, shorter growing season and above average rainfall, the ATF ruled that Fair Play should officially be considered a distinct viticultural area.
"As the area with the highest average elevation of all the appellations in California, Fair Play has long been a source of deeply flavorful, mountain-grown grapes and the intense premium wines made from them," said John Smith, president of the Fair Play Winery Association, which includes all 11 wineries in the appellation. "And, with an area of only 33 square miles, Fair Play will also become one of the smaller, boutique appellations in the state."
Fair Play currently has 250 acres planted with vines, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel. The Fair Play Winery Association will host an "Appellation Celebration" on June 9, 10, 16 and 17. Ten wineries will offer wine samples and barrel tastings. For more information, log on to www.fairplaywine.com.
Read more about the Fair Play appellation:
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