Does appellation-specific wine have to be labeled with a vintage?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is it legal for non-vintage wine to have an AVA on the label?

—Jonathan, Kuna, Idaho

Dear Jonathan,

AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas, are geographical grapegrowing areas (more specific than a state or county designation) that are legally defined by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). And fortunately, I have a contact at the TTB on speed dial! Here's what they told me: Wine with a vintage date must have an appellation, but wines that have appellations (including AVAs) do not require a vintage date. So yes, it's legal for non-vintage wine to carry an appellation or AVA here in the United States, and you'll no doubt be familiar with non-vintage wines around the world that also carry their country's AVA equivalent, such as non-vintage sparkling wines from France's Champagne AOC.

.—Dr. Vinny

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