Calistoga appellation approved

CALISTOGA -- After six years of consideration, the federal government approved the Calistoga Viticultural Area, barring use of brands with Calistoga in the name after a certain point and requiring 85 percent Calistoga grapes for wines mentioning that name on the label.

"This announcement is a testament to the decades of hard work Napa Valley grape growers and winemakers have put into making their wines the envy of the world," said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, this afternoon about the decision by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

The bureau set the notice for publication in the Federal Register tomorrow. It takes effect in early January. Brands approved after July 1986 -- a "grandfathering" threshold set years ago for Napa Valley names -- but before Dec. 4 of this year will have a three years to remove the Calistoga name from the brand or increase the proportion of Calistoga grapes for use of the name elsewhere on the label, according to the document.

The decision primarily affects the Calistoga Cellars and Calistoga Estate brands.

"Bo" Barrett of Chateau Montelana in Calistoga filed the appellation petition in 2003, pointing to a number of publications stretching back to 1881 mentioning Calistoga as a distinct viticultural area.

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