Sonoma Considers New Labeling Law


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Sonoma County is considering passing a conjunctive labeling law that would require its 12 sub appellations, such as Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill, to also print “Sonoma County” on the label, reports the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. A similar law was passed in Napa in the late 1980’s to help better promote the renowned AVA. Currently federal labeling regulations do not require a sub-appellation producer to mention Sonoma County on their label – some choose to include Sonoma but most don’t, according to the article. Now groups like the Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, and Sonoma County Tourism Bureau are working together to push such legislation with the idea of garnering more attention for Sonoma.

In Napa, the words “Napa Valley” cannot be more than 1 millimeter smaller than the sub-appellation’s name. Says the article: “The law is often cited as a significant step in Napa's evolution into the nation's most well-known wine region because it demonstrated Napa wineries' willingness to work together to promote themselves.” So why didn’t Sonoma follow in Napa’s footsteps and pass a conjunctive labeling law sooner? As the United State’s second best known wine growing region, it prides itself on being more laidback than Napa.

Opposition is reportedly expected from the three viticultural areas that already have Sonoma in their names: Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Mountain. As a result, they may think it’s repetitive to include “Sonoma” twice on their label. The cost of changing labels may also raise concerns, along with the limited amount of space on “already crowded labels.” There are also a number of producers that value their independence and will likely reject a new law dictating the appearance of their label. And of course, there are wineries that have a strong association to their sub-appellation and don’t want to confuse consumers by including “Sonoma County” on their label.


A new study from Brown University has found that wine and dark drinks like bourbon may deliver a worse hangover than white spirits (gin and vodka). They believe chemicals called congeners are the culprits, although a large amount of any kind of alcohol will cause a hangover. Congeners are created during the fermenting process and Bourbon, for example, has 37 times more congeners than vodka.

"While the alcohol alone is enough to make many people feel sick the next day, these toxic natural substances can add to the ill effects as our body reacts to them," Damaris Rohsenow, a professor at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University, said in a statement.

The study involved 95 participants ages 21 to 33 who were heavy drinkers, but had no history of alcohol abuse. The results will be published in the March 2010 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.


Discus issued a press release last week blasting Governor Tim Kaine's budget proposal to increase taxes on distilled spirits by 2%. According to the statement, Virginia’s hospitality industry has lost 4,500 jobs since the start of the recession.

“Since 1980 there have been 10 tax increases on spirits, including an increase just last year. Over the same time period there have been zero tax increases on beer and wine. While we're against raising taxes on any form of alcohol, this discriminatory tax treatment on spirits is unjustified and poor public policy,” said Discus senior vp Frank Coleman.


THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS government has reportedly sold $39 million in revenue bonds to pay for a wastewater plant at Cruzan Rum's distillery. The plant in St. Croix is part of a 30-year deal with Fortune Brands, who owns Cruzan.

SERRALLES USA, importers of Don Q rum from Puerto Rico, has appointed John Gomatos as South East Regional Manager. He most recently served as general sales manager for Florida for Brown-Forman.

ED. NOTE: We’ve had a wonderful year serving you at Wine & Spirits Daily and truly appreciate all our readers. Thanks for your insights, inputs and yes, even criticisms. As is our tradition, we will not publish these last days of the year and take some much-needed R&R, unless there is breaking news. I also want to hear from you on what you think 2010 will have in store for us. Help me with my predictions on January 5 by pinging me at or by replying to this email.

This year has been full of major changes and we look forward to chronicling what 2010 and beyond will have in store for the industry. I want to wish you and your family a happy holidays, and a safe and prosperous new year.

Until next year, Megan

“Never confuse movement with action.”
Ernest Hemingway

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