The geographic location where your wine is grown, can often signal quality or add pricing value to your customers. Commercial advantage can be gained from a consumer’s appreciation of wines originating from a particular “viticultural area.” The tagging of a wine from an “American Viticultural Area” or AVA can be an important factor to both the wine buyer and the wine seller. While viticultural areas are not government endorsements of quality, to the consumer the AVA labeling can mean that the buyer can expect a higher quality of wine for the price. To the seller, the AVA identification on the label can mean an important recognition of value, distinguishing a winemakers products from wines made in other areas.
An American Viticultural Area is the American system of identifying wines in a manner similar to the French “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. A concept created in 1978, an American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated wine grape growing region distinguishable by geographic boundaries as defined by the U.S. Department of Treasury Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The TTB defines these regions at the requests of wineries and other petitioners who use the AVA designation on the wine label to denote the geographic origin of the grapes used to produce a wine. To establish a viticultural area, it must be determined by the TTB that the geographic area is different from the surrounding areas. The TTB designates these region decisions based on an area’s unique characteristics. These areas include distinctive soil type, topography, climate, elevation and historical evidence that the region’s boundaries are legitimate. The viticultural area as regulated can encompass more than one county or more than one state. An established AVA indicates that at least 85% of the grapes used to make a wine must be grown in the specified area.
Pennsylvania’s American Viticultural Areas include the following five regions:
Central Delaware Valley (NJ, PA)
Cumberland Valley (PA, MD)
Lake Erie (PA, OH, NY)
Lancaster Valley (PA)
Lehigh Valley (PA)
The next time you’re having a locally produced wine, check out its pedigree and find out whether you’re enjoying a Pennsylvania “AVA ” wine. If so, what’s your favorite?