The Foundation of Winegeekdom
Today Steve wades into the issue of the theory of American Viticultural Areas and the process by which the TTB approaches the creation of these appellations. In this case, Steve ponders the implications of the TTB rejecting a petition to create a new sub-appellation of the Paso Robles AVA that would have designated the Westside of Highway as "Paso Robles Westside".
This is a critical subject because in theory an AVA or sub-AVA is supposed to identify and codify a well defined area that has distinctive growing conditions that set it apart from its neighbors. Such a well defined region should, in theory, deliver something distinctive to the character of the grapes grown within its boundaries. This idea that a region's specific climatic and geographic characteristics can deliver something specific to the grapes forms the basis for the notion that wines from a specific area should themselves have specific characteristics that the above average wine consumer can look forward to enjoying when they pop a cork on a wine made with grapes from said region.
This important notion forms the foundation for all Winegeekdom.
This writer believes that for Winegeekdom to have confidence in the American AVA system, that system must put much more emphasis on identifying much smaller, much more well-defined growing regions than it has in the past. American Viticultural Areas such as "Russian River Valley", "Sonoma Coast", "Paso Robles", "Napa Valley", and the like are way too big and way too encompassing of varied climates and geographic landscapes to have any meaning at all for the consumer. What we need are more appellations like "Green Valley", "Atlas Peak", "Howell Mountain" and "Sonoma Mountain": relatively small, well defined regions that DO deliver specific characteristics to the grapes grown there.
I'm hoping that Steve Heimoff continues to dig into this topic.