APPLICATION OF NEW WINE REGULATIONS
IN TREASURY DECISION ATF-53
Importers of wine and Others Concerned.
PURPOSE. The purpose of this circular is to inform
industry members that an ATF Ruling will be published
in a future issue of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Bulletin. The ruling will read substantially as
ATF has been asked whether foreign wine which has
been bottled prior to January 1, 1983, may be imported
into the United States where the labels of such wine do
not conform to the requirements which became effective
or mandatory on January 1, 1983.
Various regulations governing the labeling of wine
which were promulgated in Treasury Decision ATF-53 (43
Fed. Reg. 37672, 54624, August 23, 1978) and are set
forth in 27 C.F.R. Part 4 became effective or mandatory
on January 1, 1983. For example, section 4.23a provides
various requirements with respect to the use of grape
varietal designations on wine labels. This regulation
amends the requirements previously set forth in section
4.23 but is "not mandatory before January 1, 1983."
It is the position of the Bureau that these
regulations were intended to apply to labels which are
affixed to wine bottled after December 31, 1982. It
would be contrary to the intent of the regulations at
issue to preclude the importation of foreign wines into
the United States which, when bottled, conformed to the
requirements of Part 4.
A similar position was taken with respect to metric
standards of fill prescribed in section 4.73. ATF
adopted the position that foreign wine bottled prior to
the effective date in containers which did not conform
to the metric standards of fill could be imported into
the United States after that date if the wine was
accompanied by a statement signed by a duly authorized
official of the appropriate foreign government stating
that the wine was bottled before the effective date.
It was also permissible to import wine not conforming
with the standards of fill if the wine was being
withdrawn from a Customs bonded warehouse into which it
was entered prior to the effective date. See 27. C.F.R.
Held, wine bottled prior to January 1, 1983, which
does not conform to the requirements of 27 C.F.R.
Part 4 which became mandatory on January 1, 1983, may
be imported into the United States if the label
conforms to the requirements of the regulations in
effect when the wine was bottled and if the importer
produces evidence sufficient to establish that the wine
was bottled prior to January 1, 1983.
Held further, a statement signed by a duly
authorized official of the appropriate foreign
government that the wine was bottled prior to January 1,
1983, is sufficient evidence to establish that the wine
was bottled prior to January 1, 1983. The official of
a foreign government authorized to sign a certificate
concerning the bottling date of wine for purposes of
determining whether wine not conforming to the metric
standards of fill could be imported, will be accepted
as a "duly authorized official" for purposes of
certifying whether wine was bottled prior to January 1,
Held further, bottled foreign wines entered into
Customs bonded warehouses on or before December 31,
1982 or accompanied by a bill of lading dated on or
before December 31, 1982, may be imported into the
United States without any additional evidence that
the wine was bottled prior to January 1, 1983.
Inquiries: Inquiries concerning this circular
should refer to its number and be addressed to the
Assistant Director (Regulatory Enforcement), Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue,
NW, Washington, DC 20226.
Stephen E. Higgins