Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
When a vineyard is listed on a wine label, does that mean the vineyard is owned by that winery?
—Aaron, Santa Monica, Calif.
Not necessarily. When you see a vineyard listed on a wine label here in the United States, that means that at least 95 percent of the grapes used to make that wine came from that vineyard. But it doesn’t indicate anything about who owns the vineyard. Some top vineyards are the source for single-vineyard bottlings for multiple wineries.
Of course, it’s often true that a single-vineyard cuvée is made from a vineyard owned by that winery. In these cases, if it meets certain criteria, the wine can be labeled “estate bottled.” To be labeled as such, it has to be made entirely from vineyards controlled by the winery, and made entirely on the winery's property—it can’t leave 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.
However, even with "estate bottled" wines there’s still room for confusion: The term has been expanded to include not only vineyards owned by a winery, but also ones that are managed or controlled by that winery, even if that land is actually owned by someone else.