Wine and Spirit World Updates

Keeping Up with the World of Wine and Spirits: Keep an eye on this page, as we’ll be reporting on any changes to the world of wine and spirits, as they occur. Note to CSW/CSS Candidates: If these items are not in your Study Guide (or have changed since your Study Guide was published) these items will not be included on your exam. However, this information is provided for both candidates and the general public as a way of keeping current.

New American Viticultural Areas:

  • California: On December 7, 2017, the TTB approved the Petaluma Gap AVA, located in Sonoma and Marin Counties. New new AVA will become “official” on January 8, 2018. (This brings the total number of AVAs in the US to 240 and the total number of California AVAs to 139.)
  • North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee: On October 27, 2016, The TTB approved the establishment of the Appalachian High Country Viticultural Area. The new AVA is a 2,400-square-mile area in the states of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. There are currently 21 commercial grape growers and 10 wineries in portions within the new AVA. The Appalachian High Country AVA is effective as of November 28, 2106.
  • Arizona: On September 12, 2016, the TTB published a final ruling establish the new Willcox AVA in Arizona. This is Arizona’s second AVA, the other being the Sonoita AVA, established in 1974. The new Willcox AVA will be effective as of October 12, 2016.
  • New York: On August 22, 2016 the TTB published a final ruling establishing the 500-square mile Champlain Valley of New York AVA. The new ACA will be effective as of September 21, 2016.
  • California: On August 22, 2016, the TTB approved the expansion of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA by 2,296 acres (930 ha). The ruling becomes effective on September 21. The newly approved area expands the original boundaries of the AVA on its eastern side.  
  • Michigan: As of July, 2016, Michigan has a new AVA, known as the “Tip of the Mitt.”
  • Iowa and Missouri: The Loess Hills District AVA, located along the border of Iowa and Missouri became official on April 4, 2016. Most of the region’s 12,897 square miles are in Iowa, but the unique soil type in the region continues into Missouri. There are 13 wineries in the Loess Hills District AVA and approximately 66 vineyards with a total of 112 acres planted to vines.
  • Idaho and Washington State: On April 19, 2016, the TTB approved a new AVA—the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA. The new AVA will become official on May 20, 2106. The new AVA which overlaps Idaho and Washington State, covering portions of Nez Perce, Lewis, Clearwater, and Latah Counties in northern Idaho and Asotin, Garfield, and Whitman Counties in southeastern Washington.
  • California: On February 24, 2016, the Lamorinda AVA in Contra Costa County was approved. This AVA will “go official” on March 25, 2016.
  • California: On January 21, 2016 the Los Olivos District AVA  (located in Santa Barbara County) was approved. The Los Olivos AVA became “official” on February 22, 2016.
  • Idaho: On December 28, 2015, the Eagle Foothills AVA became official. The Eagle Foothills AVA is a subregion of the Snake River Valley AVA, and the first AVA to be located entirely in Idaho.
  • California: on September 8, 2015, the new Squaw Valley-Miramonte AVA, located in Fresno County’s San Joaquin Valley, became official.
  • Oregon: On February 6, 2015 the proposal for a new Oregon AVA, to be named “The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater” in Umatilla County, Oregon was accepted by the TTB. The AVA became “official” on March 11, 2015.   The area lies entirely within the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley viticultural area which, in turn, lies within the Columbia Valley viticultural area.
  • Proposed revision to AVA labeling standards: In response to the fact that many wineries that grow grapes in The newly-approved Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA (located in Oregon) have wineries located in Washington State and are therefore not allowed to use the name of the new AVA on their labels, the TTB has proposed changing the rules of the use of an AVA designation to allow wine made in the same state and the AVA, as well as wine made in an adjacent state, to use the AVA designation. (February, 2015)
  • Sonoma County, California: On February 18, 2015 –  the TTB issued a final ruling authorizing the Fountaingrove District Viticultural Area in Sonoma County. The new AVA covers 38,000 acres, of which 500 acres are currently planted to vines. The Fountaingrove District AVA stretches from the Russian River Valley in the west, through Chalk Hill and to the border between Napa and Sonoma.

American Viticultural Areas awaiting Approval: the following AVAs have made it a long way through the approval process, and are currently avaiting final approval which may or may not be granted by the TTB.  

  • Cape May Peninsula, NJ (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published on September 8, 2016)
  • Dahlonega Plateau, GA (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published on December 2, 2016)
  • Van Duzer Corridor, OR (application “Accepted as Perfected” on July 22, 2015)
  • Upper Hudson, NY (application “Accepted as Perfected” on July 30, 2015)
  • West Sonoma Coast, CA (application “Accepted as Perfected” on August 12, 2016)
  • Eastern Connecticut Highlands, CT (application “Accepted as Perfected” on August 18, 2016)
  • Candy Mountain, WA (application “Accepted as Perfected” on January 24, 2017)
  • Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County, NC (application “Accepted as Perfected” on January 24, 2017)
  • Tualatin Hills, OR (application “Accepted as Perfected” on March 1, 2017)
  • Royal Slope, WA (application “Accepted as Perfected” on April 14, 2017)
  • Alisos Canyon, CA (application “Accepted as Perfected” on April 14, 2017)
  • Verde Valley, AZ (application “Accepted as Perfected” on August 1, 2017)
  • Mount Pisgah, OR (application “Accepted as Perfected” on October 12, 2017)
  • The Burn of Columbia Valley, WA (application “Accepted as Perfected” on October 31, 2017)
  • White Bluffs, WA (application “Accepted as Perfected” on November 7, 2017)
  • Lower Long Tom, OR (application “Accepted as Perfected” on January 4, 2018)
  • Upper Lake Valley, CA (application “Accepted as Perfected” on January 10, 2018)

Other News and Updates from the New World – Wine:

  • As of November 10, 2017, the following areas have had their applications accepted as Geographical Indications for Wine and Spirits in New Zealand: Hawke’s Bay, Matakana, Waiheke Island, Gisborne, Northland, Wairarapa, Canterbury and Marlborough. These areas should become “official” in early 2018. Several others are still “under examination.”
  • As of July 27, 2017, the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Act of New Zealand has come into force, and the Government of New Zealand is accepting applications for Geographical Indications for wine and spirits. As applications are accepted and begin to move through the approval process, they will be able to be accessed via the website of the New Zealand Office of Intellectual Property:
  • On June 1, 2017, the Cape Town District was approved as a new appellation under South Africa’s Wine of Origin scheme. The new district replaces the former (now repealed) districts of Cape Peninsula and Tygerberg.
  • On November 16, 2016 the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Amendment Act was passed by the New Zealand Parliament. As a result, the Act (first proposed in 2006) will enter into force during 2017, allowing for the registration of a set of internationally recognized and protected geographical indications in New Zealand. For more on this story, see our blog post. Update: The new law took on July 27, 2017 and applications for GIs are in the beginning stage of the approval process.

News and Updates from the European Union – Wine:

  • As of October, 2017, dry sparkling wines were approved for production under the Asti DOCG—these wines may be labeled as “Asti Secco DOCG.” According to the consortium’s website, “on the nose you can appreciate delicate floral aromas (acacia, lavender, sage) and fruity (apple, pear, banana).”
  • Update on the Cava de Paraja Calificado qualification—November 22, 2017: Of the 12 estates originally listed as “qualified estates,” only 9 passed the final quality control process and will be producing Cava de Paraja Calificado this year. The 9 estates are: Argicola Casa Sala, Alta Alella, Cordoníu, Gramona, Juvé Y Camps, Recardo, Sabaté i Coca, Torelló, and Vins el Cep.
  • In October of 2017, Austria approved its tenth DAC, the Schilcherland DAC.
  • On August 11, 2017, the Consejo Regulador of the Rioja DOCa approved the use of certain single-village names on the labels of Rioja DOCa.
  • In August of 2017, the INAO approved the Côte D’Or AOC as a new sub-appellation of the regional Burgundy (Bourgogne) AOC.
  • On July 13, 2017, the Consejo Regulador of the Cava DO announced the name of the first twelve qualified single estates (zones) to be approved under the “Cava de Paraje Calificado” designation.
  • In June of 2017, the Consejo Regulador of the Rioja DOCa approved a new “single vineyard” sub-classification.
  • In May of 2017, the INAO approved two new AOCs for French Wine: the Corrèze AOC and the Vézelay AOC.
  • In April of 2017, Italy announced it’s 335th DOC: the Delle Venezie DOC. The delineated region includes the entirety of the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions, as well as the province of Trentino.
  • In February of 2017, the Pic-Saint-Loup AOC was approved. The area had previously been a subzone of the Languedoc AOC. The new AOC is approved for red and rosé wines made from a Syrah-based blend.
  • As of late 2016, Colline Teramane Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG is the new name of the DOCG formerly known as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Termane.
  • In July of 2016, Italy approved a new DOC, the Fruili DOC.  The Fruili DOC covers the entire southern half of the Friuli–Venezia Giulia region and encompasses all of the area of the six previous DOCs of the region. The Fruili DOC has not yet been approved by the EU, but this is expected to be merely a formality, as Italy has approved the use of the term on wine labels starting with the 2016 harvest. The DOC will produce red, white, and sparkling wines from a range of grape varieties. Of particular interest is the fact that the DOC allows for sparkling wines produced from the Ribolla Gialla grape variety, as this particular wine is not approved for production in any of the other DOCs of the region.
  • On June 14, 2016, Austria announced some changes to its wine laws. These laws include changes in the names and designation of five regional designations, a new definition and restricted use of the term Ausbruch, specified levels for Austrian sparkling wines, and other changes. For the details see our blog post.
  • On June 7, 2016 the Consejo Regulador of Cava announced that it has approved a new Cava category (within the existing Cava DO), reserved for single-vineyard, estate produced wines. The category, named Cava de Paraje Calificado (Qualified Single Estate Cava)will feature site-specific Cava grown in areas known for unique soil, climate, and geographical characteristics.
  • In April of 2016, the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) announced two new brands—Eminent and Grand Eminent—intended to further define and promote Crémant de Bourgogne.
  • The INAO (March 9, 2015) has approved a new AOC in the southern Rhône, to be known as AOC Cairanne. Winemakers are expected to be able to use the designation starting with the 2015 vintage. Carianne was formerly one of the 18 villages that were entitled to append the name of their village onto the Côtes du Rhône-Villages designation. The region is known for red, white, and rosé wines produced from the typical blend of southern Rhône varieties (min. 50% Grenache + min. 20% combined Syrah/ Mourvèdre for reds and rosés;  min. 80% any blend of Grenache blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, or Viognier for the whites.) The new AOC regulations will require hand harvesting and sorting either in the vineyard or the winery, and a organics-level maximum level of added sulfites. The new designation was approved by the EU in early 2016.
  • Hungary’s most famous and historic desert wine, Tokaji, has undergone some regulatory changes.  As of the 2013 Vintage, the Tokaji Trade Council has determined that they will no longer permit use of the term “puttonyo” on wine labels, as in what was formerly known as “3, 4, 5, or 6-puttonyo levels of sweetness.
  • Nizza DOCG: On December 22, 2013, the Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Asti e del Monferrato  created (and agreed on) a new set of standards for what some people are calling a “Super-Barbera” wine to be produced in the Nizza subzone of the existing Barbera d’Asti DOCG.  The new appellation is known as “Nizza DOCG” and will cover wines that are currently produced under the “Barbera d’Asti Superiore” category and grown in one of the 18 townships of Nizza Monferrato.  New standards for the Nizza DOCG include 100% Barbera grapes, 30 months of aging (including six in oak), and a minimum alcohol content of 13% by volume.
  • Rule changes regarding the grape Pignoletto, and DOC/DOCG regions in Emilia-Romagna: It seems that Pignoletto has gone the way of Prosecco! In other words, Italy has decided that Pignoletto is a region and not a grape. It has also been discovered that the grape “formerly known as Pignoletto” is genetically identical to Grechetto Gentile. Thus, the Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto DOCG, located in Emilia-Romagna just west of Bologna, has changed its name to simply Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto DOCG, and a new Pignoletto DOC has been created. Also under these changes, the term “Pignoletto” will no longer be allowed to refer to a grape variety – just the geographic reagion.
  • The Alsace 55? The Alsace Vintner’s Assocation (CIVA) has issued a proposal to create two more AOCs in Alsace – Alsace Cru and Alsace Premier Cru. The organization reports that they have received over 100 applications for the new designations that are currently under review. The proposal, however, still needs to be reviewed by the INAO and the European Union.

News and Updates from the world of Spirits:


If you have an update you’d like to see included on this page, please contact Jane Nickles at .



8 Responses to Wine and Spirit World Updates

  1. admin says:

    Hi Shane!! Thanks for your note! The study guide/exam package deal is available on the SWE’s website at: . You can also get an e-version of the study guide at Amazon or iTunes (but a hard copy of the study guide is included in the price of the exam.) Good luck with your studies and let us know if we can help you out! Cheers, Jane N.

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  4. Rick Borden says:


    Do you have a link to the boundaries of the Sonoita AVA. I am interested in investing in raw land for a long term hold when I retire and want to make sure I buy within the boundaries of the AVA

  5. Sandy Lung says:

    I have a question for how to join the membership
    And how to pay with join a class and buy the book

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