February 09, 2015

Wyden Lauds Proposed Wine Rules

Senator Praises Potential Gains for Wine Industry in Northeastern Oregon

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Monday that he is very encouraged by two significant developments that could have huge benefits for the wine industry in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington.

The first of the two developments is the announcement today by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) that would allow wines produced in “The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater” to state that they are produced in The Rocks, located within the internationally renowned Walla Walla Valley viticulture area.  

The second major development for Oregon’s wine industry is the publication of proposed Federal rules by TTB that would lower barriers for wines produced in designated geographic areas (known as American Viticulture Areas, or AVAs) shared between two states, which could yield significant benefits for winemakers in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington.   

“Oregon’s economy and its wine industry can raise a glass to praise both of today’s developments,’’ said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee that oversees TTB and wine regulations. “These new rules ensure that Oregon winemakers can let consumers around the world know they’re drinking some of the best wines you can find from Oregon’s own vineyards.”

Wine industry members with operations in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington sought the proposed rule improvement on “appellation of origin” labels, which can be commented on by the public until April 10. Local vineyard and winery owners in northeastern Oregon sought the final rule establishing the “The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater” AVA, which takes effect March 11.

“The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater becomes Oregon’s 18th recognized American Viticultural Area and reflects the unique characteristics of Oregon’s vineyards within the famous Walla Walla Valley,’’ said Ellen Brittan, president of the Oregon Winegrowers Association. “This designation is another important step acknowledging the bright future ahead for the wine community in Northeastern Oregon as well as the diverse range of distinctive wine growing regions across our state and the exceptional wine grapes they produce.”

The Oregon wine industry represents 605 wineries and wine companies generating more than 17,000 jobs and contributing more than $3.3 billion annually to Oregon’s economy.

TTB designates AVAs to let vintners better describe their wines’ origin and to ensure wine buyers can better identify the wines they purchase.

More information is available at the TTB website, http://www.ttb.gov.