Sonoma Vintners to Wineries: Promote Sonoma County or Become a Criminal!
I do. In fact, I know they would.
But clearly many wineries that produce wines from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley, Sonoma Coast and elsewhere inside Sonoma County don't feel a need to place these fairly meaningless words on their labels. Yet they legally could if they wanted to. They could put "Sonoma County" right there on the label below "Dry Creek Valley" or Alexander Valley. But most don't. And I'm sure they have their reasons.
Those reasons are about to matter not at all and wineries making wine from grapes grown in Sonoma County are about to lose control of their labels. More importantly, wineries that don't' use the term "Sonoma County" on their Russian River Valley Zinfandels and Sonoma Valley Cabernets are about to be labeled criminals.
Sonoma County Vintners Association is going to attempt to get a law passed that FORCES wineries to put these two fairly meaningless words (Sonoma County) on their label, whether they want to or not. According to a Santa Rosa Press Democrat article, the Association of county wineries has gotten approval from all but one of the Boards of Sonoma County appellation associations to pursue a "Conjunctive Labeling" law in Sacramento.
I described this type of law in an earlier post. But, to refresh your memory, it basically means that any wine made from grapes grown primarily in Sonoma County, must carry the words "Sonoma County" on the front label just underneath a more specific appellation (ex: Russian River Valley) if one is used.
But let's be clear about something: A WINERY MAY DO THIS NOW—IF THEY CHOOSE!
Under the Sonoma County Conjunctive Labeling Law, wineries would no longer have this choice. That's too bad. Because if I was making killer Pinot from the Real Sonoma Coast region and selling it for $45 a bottle, primarily to a mailing list and to a few restaurants, I wouldn't want the words "Sonoma County" anywhere near my label. And that's just one example I can thinking of when I imagine the many, many reasons I may not want to clutter up my front label with a meaningless appellation.
But let's be very clear about the message behind this potential legislation:
The state of California, by passing this law, is dictating to private companies that if they make wine from grapes grown in Sonoma County, they are required to promote Sonoma County on their labels, whether it benefits their brand or wine sales or bottom line. Someone tell me what business the state has telling a private company what they must be required to promote. For that matter, someone explain to me the kind of cajones that the Sonoma County Vintners Association must have to try to push through a law that makes it a crime for wine producers not to promote their meaningless "Sonoma County Brand".