When a vineyard is listed on a wine label, does that mean the vineyard is owned by that winery?

Ask Dr Vinny

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.

Dear Aaron,

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.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Labeling Regulations Legal and Legislative Issues

More In Dr. Vinny

What are Greece’s Muscat of Patras wines? Are they made with sun-dried grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny introduces us to two Greek fortified wines: Muscat of …

Aug 10, 2020

Should the capsule on top of a wine bottle spin or not?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the folklore about foil capsules, or sleeves, on …

Aug 7, 2020

I tried to clean a red wine stain and it turned blue. Why?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine stains can turn blue, and how best to …

Aug 5, 2020

How does Wine Spectator review canned wines in blind tastings?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the procedure for blind-tasting wines from …

Aug 3, 2020

When will wine from Virginia get the recognition it deserves?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why Virginia's wines aren't more well-known on …

Jul 31, 2020

Why do Champagne bubbles come from the bottom of my glass?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains carbon dioxide "nucleation sites."

Jul 29, 2020