Wine Industry

American Grape Variety Names

Using a grape variety name on an American wine label is not mandatory, but many wineries and bottlers choose to show this information. We designed this web page to help you understand the rules. Here you will find more information on:

Use of grape variety names on wine labels

You can find the rules for varietal (grape type) labeling in our regulations at 27 CFR 4.23. In general:

  • You may only use grape variety names approved by TTB.

Paragraph (e) of § 4.23 states that only a grape variety name approved by the TTB Administrator may be used as a type designation for an American wine. It also states that the list of approved grape variety names appears in subpart J, American Grape Variety Names, of part 4. The list of grape variety names, and their synonyms, approved for use as type designations for American wines appears within subpart J in 27 CFR 4.91. Alternative grape variety names temporarily authorized for use are listed in 27 CFR 4.92.

  • If you use a grape varietal name, an appellation of origin must also appear on the label.

Paragraph (a) of § 4.23 states that the names of one or more grape varieties may be used as the type designation of a grape wine only if the wine is labeled with an appellation of origin. For the rules governing labeling with an appellation of origin, see 27 CFR 4.25.

  • The wine must be made from a minimum percentage of the grape varietal.
    • Under § 4.23(b), you may use the name of a single grape variety on a label as the type designation of a wine if :
      • 75 percent or more of the wine is made from the named grape variety, with exceptions provided in § 4.23(c); and
      • the entire 75 percent of the named grape variety was grown in the labeled appellation of origin.
    • Section 4.23(c) provides two exceptions from the 75 percent rule:
      • Wine made from any Vitis labrusca variety may use the name of the grape variety on the label if:
        • 51 percent or more of the wine is made from the named grape variety; and
        • the entire qualifying percentage of the named grape variety was grown in the labeled appellation of origin.
      • Wine made from any grape variety that the appropriate TTB officer finds to be too strongly flavored at the 75 percent minimum may be labeled with the grape variety if:
        • 51 percent or more of the wine is made from the named grape variety; and
        • the entire qualifying percentage of the named grape variety was grown in the labeled appellation of origin.

 

In either exception from the 75 percent rule, the statement "contains not less than 51% (name of variety)" must be shown on either the brand label, back label, or separate strip label.

  • You may use two or more grape varietal names on the label.
    Under § 4.23(d), you may use two or more grape variety names as the type designation of a wine if:
    • all the grapes used to make the wine are of the labeled varieties; and
    • the percentage of the wine derived from each grape variety is shown on the label. (Note: There is a tolerance for +/– 2% error.)

If the wine is labeled with a multistate or multicounty appellation of origin, the percentage of wine derived from each variety from each county or state must be shown on the label.

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Process for approval of grape variety names

Who may request approval27 CFR 4.93(a) allows any interested person to petition for the approval of a grape variety name.

Evidence required for approval27 CFR 4.93(a) provides that the petition should provide evidence of the following:

  • that the new grape variety is accepted;
  • that the name for identifying the grape variety is valid;
  • that the variety is used or will be used in winemaking; and
  • that the variety is grown and used in the United States.

Documentation that provides the required evidence – Under § 4.93(b), the documentation submitted with the petition may include:

  • a reference to the publication of the name of the variety in a scientific or professional journal of horticulture or a published report by a professional, scientific, or winegrowers' organization;
  • a reference to a plant patent, if patented; and
  • information pertaining to the commercial potential of the variety, such as the acreage planted and its location or market studies.

Eligibility restrictionsSection 4.93 also places certain eligibility restrictions on the approval of grape variety names. As stated in § 4.93(c), we will not approve a name:

  • if the name has previously been used for a different grape variety;
  • if the name contains a term or name found to be misleading under 27 CFR 4.39; or
  • if the name contains the term "Riesling".

Response to the petitioner – We will respond to you in writing to let you know if we have approved or denied your request. If we approve the grape variety name, you will receive an administrative approval. The approval letter will advise you that:

  • we will approve Certificates of Label Approval (COLAs) for labels using the grape variety name;
  • the approval is valid for labels used in the U.S. market and does not imply that the grape variety name is acceptable for use in other countries;
  • we will propose rulemaking to add the grape variety name to the list of approved grape variety names in § 4.91 ; and
  • any final rulemaking action will supersede the administrative approval of the grape variety name.

If we do not approve the grape variety name, the letter will provide a reason(s) why we denied the name.

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Rulemaking to add a grape name to the list in 27 CFR 4.91

Administratively approved grape names – After we have approved one or more grape variety names, we will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register proposing to add the approved grape variety name(s) to the list in § 4.91. This notice gives the public a chance to comment on whether the administratively approved grape variety name should be recognized as an approved grape variety name.

If we receive a comment(s) or other information that demonstrates a final approval is inappropriate, we may decide not to give final approval for that grape variety name and we will not add it to the list in our regulations. Our final rulemaking action will replace or cancel the administrative approval.

Grape names we did not administratively approve – In the notice of proposed rulemaking, we may also ask for public comment on grape variety names requested in a petition that we denied. If we receive public comments that provide sufficient evidence that the grape variety name should be approved, we may add the name to the list of approved grape variety names in 27 CFR 4.91.

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Currently approved Grape Variety Names

List of approved grape names in the Regulations –This list shows the grape names we approved as type designations for American wine. See 27 CFR 4.91.

Please note that this list does not apply to imported wines. An imported wine may be designated with a grape variety name if the producing country has approved that name for use on wines sold for consumption within that country.

Grape names administratively approved pending TTB's next rulemaking
We have administratively approved the following grape names:

Alexander
Amigne
Arandell
Aromella
Arvine
Assyrtiko
Bianchetta trevigiana
Black Spanish
Bluebell
Bourboulenc
Brachetto
By George
Caladoc
Caprettone
Chisago
Coda di Volpe
Diana
Esprit
Falanghina
Frontenac Blanc
Geneva Red
Godello
Gros Manseng
Humagne Rouge
Jacquez
Jupiter
King of the North
Lambrusca di Alessandria
Loureiro
Madeleine Angevine
Madeleine Sylvaner
Marquis
Marselan
Moschofilero
Mustang
Petite Pearl
Picardan
Pinot Bianco
Plymouth
Ribolla Gialla
Rieslaner
Riverbank
Rose of Peru
Saperavi
Schönburger
Sheridan
Southern Cross
Terret Noir
Tinta Amarela
Tinta Cao
Tinta Roriz
Touriga Nacional
Vaccarèse
Valjohn
Verdejo

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Questions or comments

If you have questions or comments about the grape variety name approval process please contact TTB's Regulations and Rulings Division at (202) 453-2265 or by email at WineRegs@ttb.gov.

If you have questions or comments on the Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) process, please contact the Advertising, Labeling and Formulation Division at (202) 453-2250 or Toll Free (866) 927-ALFD (2533), or by email at alfd@ttb.treas.gov.

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TTB G 2011-4B
OPR: RRD
Updated May 3, 2012



Page last reviewed: February 24, 2017
Page last updated: February 24, 2017
Maintained by: Regulations and Rulings Division

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