Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

AVA, the acronym for American Viticultural Area and the united states’ relatively rudimentary answer to France’s appellation contrôlée system of permitted geographical designations. The US federal government began developing this system in the early 1980s through its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF; see ttb). Under existing regulations, AVAs are theoretically defined by geographic and climatic boundaries and historic authenticity, rather than pre-existing political boundaries, although this is not invariably true and there is some overlap of borders. The system requires no limitations on varieties planted, yields, or other specifics familiar to those who know France’s AC or Italy’s doc laws. The only requirement for their use is that 85% of the grapes in a wine labelled with an AVA come from that region; if the wine is a varietal, the legal minimum of 75% of the named variety must come from the named AVA. (Unlike the AC, or DOC system, however, neither the expression ‘AVA’ nor ‘American Viticultural Area’ appears on wine labels.)