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Point of View: Anthony Terlato

A winery owner argues against lowering the minimum requirement for a vintage date

Posted: August 22, 2005

To the editor:

I have written to William Foster, chief of regulations and procedures at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, to go on record with the fact that the Terlato Wine Group is diametrically opposed to the proposed change to the vintage-dating regulations that would allow standards to be reduced from 95 percent to 85 percent of "in vintage" wine.

It is my opinion that we should not reduce our standards in America's most prominent viticultural areas for any reason, most emphatically not in the interest of competing with countries that are focused on the volume of cases rather than quality.

We should continue using our energy and resources to not just maintain the standards but raise them when possible to protect the integrity of our wines, so that in the coming decades we can be recognized as the finest winegrowing appellations in the world.

The Wine Institute presents the proposed new regulation as a "compromise." It says the proposal protects names such as Napa Valley by keeping the 95 percent requirement in place for such appellations of origin, and only the standard Napa County would fall to 85 percent. I do not know whether this argument is naive or misinformed, but in either case, it is wrong. How many consumers will make the distinction between Napa Valley and Napa County?

It's nonsense to say the concept of blending 10 percent more of another vintage will improve the overall quality of our wines. From my point of view, this is a blatant effort to stretch "good" vintages with "off" vintages. It is my belief that everyone dedicated to quality will also oppose the compromise and keep high standards as the rule of conduct; it will be to the benefit of us all.

Anthony Terlato
Chairman/CEO
Terlato Wine Group

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