Allow Vintage Dating

March 2010
by Cary M. Greene
A winery might have plenty of reasons to use a vintage date on an “American” or other country appellation wine. But under longstanding federal regulations, wineries don’t have the option, since country appellation wines are prohibited from bearing a vintage date. As with many technical rules in the wine business, it’s a case where the purpose of a once-coherent policy restriction has been lost through a combination of market and regulatory changes. It is time for the federal Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) to revise its policy.

Having grown from 1,600 wineries in 1990 to more than 6,000 today, the U.S. wine industry has evolved at a rapid rate. Regulatory policy has gradually adapted along with it, slowly improving with a lot of hard work by our industry’s dedicated policy minders. In a general sense, the regulatory environment for wineries is pretty good. But there’s significant room for improvement, particularly in areas where outmoded policy hinders winery marketing and development.

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