Legislature approves Sonoma County conjunctive labeling law

SONOMA COUNTY -- The California Legislature today unanimously approved a conjunctive-labeling bill that would require wines bearing the names of any of Sonoma County's 13 designated winegrowing regions to also carry the county name as prominently on the bottle.

On Monday the state Senate voted 36-0 in favor of Assembly Bill 1798, penned by Assemblymembers Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, and state Senators Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Patricia Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa. The Assembly passed it today with a 74-0 vote. Now, the bill goes to the governor's desk for signature.

Starting in January 2014, wine companies that meet federal grape-sourcing requirements to list the names of the county's better-known American Viticultural Areas, such as Russian River Valley, Carneros, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Coast, on the label also will have to list Sonoma County as the place of origin.

Wine, winegrape and tourism marketing groups have touted the effort as a way to market the region as a whole, but  some established producers in the well-known areas had noted their concerns about dilluting brand cache.

“We are thrilled to see the culmination of our goal for Sonoma County wines moving forward to the governor’s desk,” said Honore Comfort, executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. “This moment is truly the result of collaboration among the vintners and winegrape growers of every AVA of Sonoma County and marks the beginning of a stronger Sonoma County brand for generations to come.”

“In this increasingly competitive wine market, building awareness for Sonoma County and the wine regions within the county is critical to Sonoma County grape growers and the wineries they supply,” said Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. “AB 1798 will ensure that consumers recognize every bottle of wine produced from Sonoma County grapes.”

Conjunctive-labeling laws have been adopted for the Napa Valley, Lodi, and Paso Robles winegrowing regions since 1989.

CORRECTION, Aug. 30, 2010: Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, also was an author of AB 1798.

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