The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms established American
Viticultural Areas, or AVAs, to define growing regions
distinguished by geographical and terroir features.
over 140 AVAs in the United States, including Napa Valley in
California, Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Finger Lakes in
AVAs can extend beyond state boundaries, like the
Columbia Valley which extends from Washington into Oregon.
Unlike the French AOC, American AVA laws only establish growing
area boundaries and do not govern which varietals can be grown
or vineyard and winemaking practices. U.S. wine regulations
include the following:
If a wine label carries the name of an AVA, 85% of the grapes
must come from that AVA.
If a wine label carries the name of a county, 75% of the grapes
must come from that county.
If a wine label carries the name of a state, 75% of the grapes
must come from that state.
Some states vary on this law, such as California, where 100% of
the grapes must come from California to carry the state’s name
on the label.
When a wine label carries a vintage, 95% of the grapes must be
grown during the stated year.
When a wine label carries the name of a grape variety, the wine
must be made from at least 75% of that grape variety.