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December 04, 2009
TTB Approves Calistoga AVA: Application Filed in 2004

In a ruling issued this week, the U.S. Tax and Treasury Bureau has approved the creation of a new Calistoga American Viticultural Area, five years after the initial application was filed.

Calistoga, the last remaining major part of Napa Valley without its own AVA, applied in October 2004, and while the area might have seemed a shoe in for approval, it wasn’t so simple. The application was controversial because Calistoga Cellars and Calistoga Estates, two wineries that use “Calistoga” in their brand names, aren’t based in Calistoga and don’t use the 75 percent of local grapes that will be required by the AVA. In fact, for a time after the Calistoga issue cropped up, TTB appeared to be questioning the entire process and didn't approve any new AVA applications.

In 2007, the TTB proposed grandfathering the "Calistoga" brands in, which drew considerable opposition. Ultimately TTB declined to grandfather the brands though this week’s ruling, giving the two wineries three years to phase out using the Calistoga name.

“We believe that a 3-year use up period would be sufficient and appropriate to transition the affected brand labels without unnecessary disruptions or economic costs,” TTB wrote in this week's final ruling.

“It’s good news and we’re happy,” Napa Valley Vintners communications director Terry Hall told winebusiness.com.

“I am extremely pleased to announce that Calistoga has finally been designated as an American

Viticultural Area, a long overdue and much deserved distinction,” Senator Mike Thompson (D-NapaValley) said in a press release issued late Thursday. “I look forward to celebrating this tremendous victory with the wine supporters here in the NapaValley and across the globe who have worked tirelessly to recognize one of world’s premier growing regions.”

“I especially thank the Calistoga growers and the Napa Valley Vintners for their leadership and determination over the past six years,” Thompson said. “It has been a long road, but like the incredible wines made in Calistoga, we will savor this wonderful news. This announcement is a testament to the decades of hard work NapaValley grape growers and winemakers have put into making their wines the envy of the world. We should all raise a glass to the new Calistoga AVA.”

“We could not have achieved this incredible victory for wine consumers and the wine industry had it not been for Representative Mike Thompson, NVV Executive Director Linda Reiff said in another press release.

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