American Viticultural Area (AVA)


An American Vicitultural Area (AVA) is a specially designated wine grape-growing region in the United States.

AVAs are assigned according to specific geographical features and boundaries by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and unlike most European appellations of origin, an AVA specifies only a geographical location from which at least 85% of the grapes used to make wine must have been grown (if that AVA is stated on the wine bottle label).

AVAs do not restrict the number of allowable grape varieties to be grown, winemaking methods, or crop yield.

As of October 2013 there are 218 AVAs.

Requirements to become an AVA include evidence that the name is locally or nationally known referring to the area, historical or current evidence that the boundaries are legitimate, and evidence that the growing conditions such as climate, soil, elevation and physical features are distinctive.

Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes winemakers fight gas storage plan

1st August 2014

Winemakers in the US Finger Lakes AVA have warned the proposed expansion of an underground gas storage facility will threaten their vineyards' rising reputation.

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Dolin Estate Wine

California's Malibu Coast winemakers secure AVA status

23rd July 2014

The Malibu coastline outside Los Angeles has become California's newest American Viticultural Area (AVA), which winemakers hope will raise the region’s profile.

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Moon mountain

New AVAs won't confuse consumers, insist winemakers

4th October 2013

Wine producers in the newly-created American Viticultural Areas of Moon Mountain and Ballard Canyon have insisted the new sub-appellations will help consumers, not confuse them.

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Paso Robles

Paso Robles AVA producers apply to form sub-appellations

27th September 2013

Winemakers in California's Paso Robles have applied to split the American Viticultural Area into 11 new sub-appellations to highlight its diversity to consumers.

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Virginia: America's Old World

26th July 2013

It doesn't get the media coverage that California does, but Virginia is tipped to be the next big thing in American wine. Jason Tesauro picks out the varieties and producers that are bringing the...

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Sonoma producers protest new labelling law

30th May 2013

Small producers in Sonoma County are angered by new legislation requiring them to label their wines Sonoma County even if they are part of specific sub-appellations.

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Decanter travel guide: Washington State

5th April 2013

The Walla Walla AVA in the eastern part of this state offers superb festivals, dining and touring options, says Paul Gregutt. Read the full guide to Washington State, including the best wineries...

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travel, Oregon

Elkton Oregon AVA approved in US

19th February 2013

Elkton Oregon has been approved as the latest American Viticultural Area in the US.

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US consumers 'confused' by multiple Sonoma AVAs

24th January 2013

Sonoma Valley has announced the launch of a new campaign to differentiate the region from the larger Sonoma Coast and even larger Sonoma County AVA.

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Moon mountain

Moon Mountain on course for AVA status

19th November 2012

Winemakers on the mountainous eastern slopes of Sonoma Valley may soon be part of California’s newest American Viticultural Area (AVA), which contains some of the country’s most historic vineyards.

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Latest Virginia AVA announced

2nd October 2012

Middleburg, Virginia has become the state's newest American Viticultural Area.

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travel, Oregon

Decanter travel guide: Oregon, US

8th August 2012

Gourmet food, sensational wines and the chance to mingle with winemakers – Fiona Beckett is in heaven at Oregon’s International Pinot Noir Celebration. Read the full guide to Oregan, including the...

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Finger Lakes

Decanter travel guide: Finger Lakes, New York

3rd August 2012

A hidden gem of a wine region with stunning scenery, down-to earth hospitality, diverse outdoor activities – and plenty to eat and drink, says Howard G Goldberg. Published in the June 2011 issue.

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Naches Heights

Two more AVAs approved

1st January 2012

Two new American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) have been approved.

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Calistoga latest AVA

4th December 2009

Calistoga has become the latest American Viticultural Area – over five years since an initial application was filed.

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New California AVA: world's smallest?

22nd October 2009

The United States is soon to have the distinction of hosting the worlds largest and smallest appellations.

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World's largest wine appellation comes into being

13th July 2009

The USA will soon have the world's largest wine appellation - the 4m hectare Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA.

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The New World's Most Exciting New Terroirs

5th June 2009

As regionality continues to emerge in the New World, we asked our leading experts in each country to pick out the single most exciting terroir to look for and three wines from each to prove it

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The US Appellation system

1st April 2009

The US appellation system, a mish-mash of countless AVAs, has come
under fire for violating its own rules. LINDA MURPHY questions its value

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Willamette Valley gains another AVA

9th January 2007

Chehalem Mountains has been given its own AVA (American Viticultural Area), making it Oregon's 15th delineated viticultural area.

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New AVA for Washington

1st March 2006

Washington’s Rattlesnake Hills will soon become this Pacific Northwest state’s ninth federal appellation.

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Ramona Valley new AVA

10th January 2006

The Ramona Valley has become the third wine growing region of Southern California to be granted AVA status.

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Niagara Escarpment AVA approved

14th September 2005

The Niagara Escarpment Viticultural Area is the latest AVA in New York State to be approved by the government.

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Clinton backs AVA for Niagara Escarpment

11th January 2005

New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is backing the creation of a new US winegrowing region – Niagara Escarpment.

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Red Mountain gets AVA approval

6th April 2001

The Pacific Northwest's smallest winegrowing area, Red Mountain, has been given official appellation status.

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