Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Feds recognize 'Upper Hudson' as a new viticultural area

New viticultural area lies with the outline. (Google map)
Back in April, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published a proposal to create an "approximately 1,500-square mile 'Upper Hudson' viticultural area in all or portions of Albany, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Washington counties."

Say what? Well, officially designated viticulture areas in any state often pay off big in marketing wines made from grapes grown within them. The TTB does the designating, and vintners in the area decide if they want to use the designation on their labels and marketing materials.

Wines made with at least 75% local produce now may use "Upper Hudson." Those made with 100% local produce from the winery's own vineyards may add the phrase “Estate Bottled.” A number of wineries from the new region will be using that information on their labels within the next few weeks.

The impetus for creation of the new region, according to the TTB, was receipt of a petition  from Andrew and Kathleen Weber, owners of Northern Cross Vineyard of Valley Falls, Washington County.

"Nineteen commercial vineyards, covering approximately 67.5 acres, are distributed across the proposed AVA," the TTB  says. "According to the petition, several vineyard owners are planning to expand their vineyards by a total of 14 additional acres in the near future, and four new vineyards are also planned. All 19 of the vineyards within the proposed AVA also have attached wineries."

The Upper Hudson AVA is described by the petitioners and the TTB as the non-tidal portion of the Hudson River above the Federal Dam in Troy.

The TTB definition of an American Viticultural Area (AVA) is one that, among other characteristics, has distinguishing geographic or climate features and have a delineated area. Wines labeled with the appellation -- Upper Hudson, in this case -- largely will refer to wines made with cold climate grapes that have become very popular here.

"The establishment of AVAs," says TTB regulations, "allows vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wines to consumers and helps consumers to identify wines they may purchase. Establishment of an AVA is neither an approval nor an endorsement by TTB of the wine produced in that area."

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