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SONOMA COUNTY CONJUNCTIVE LABELING INITIATIVE MOVES FORWARD WITH COUNTY-WIDE CONSENSUS

Sonoma County winery and grape growing organizations have reached the consensus needed to pursue legislation that creates conjunctive labeling requirements for all regionally designated wines produced from Sonoma County grapes.

The Presidents’ Council, an organization comprised of leadership from Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, Sonoma County Tourism Bureau, and each of the regional (AVA) associations met Tuesday, April 27, to hear from each group and assess the level of support for the initiative.

All organizations weighed in at the meeting, except two of the regional associations. Those remaining approvals were received on May 5.

"We have done our best to understand and address the concerns that were raised, and we are gratified to clearly have the consensus needed to move forward," said Honore Comfort, executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. "These last three months have truly been a collaborative process among the vintners and winegrape growers of Sonoma County."

Each regional association used its own procedure to assess the level of support of its members during the three months since the initiative was formally launched at the Sonoma County Vintners Annual Meeting on January 20, 2010, with some of the larger organizations conducting special meetings on the topic.

The decision to pursue conjunctive labeling in Sonoma County was based upon market research with consumers and the wine trade commissioned by the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and conducted by WineOpinions in fall 2009. The findings indicated that core wine consumers preferred labels that included Sonoma County along with the American Viticulture Area (AVA) and this preference was most significant with a newer, less known AVA. More importantly, over 80 percent of the wine trade surveyed recommended that Sonoma County be added to wine labels in addition to the AVA. "Our goal is to sell more wine produced from Sonoma County grapes," said Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. "The market research led us to the clear conclusion that conjunctive labeling can help us achieve that goal."

Next Steps
The next phase of the process will center upon drafting the legislation that will be introduced in the California State Legislature. Exact wording for the bill will be worked out in coming weeks, but will be based on the existing conjunctive labeling legislation language used by Napa Valley, Paso Robles, and Lodi. Once adopted, the new law would go into effect on January 1, 2011 with a three year phase-in period. Full adoption would occur on January 1, 2014.

About Sonoma County Vintners
Sonoma County Vintners is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to increasing awareness and improving the quality image of its wines to consumers, media, and trade locally and globally. With almost 65,000 vineyard acres planted among the county’s 13 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), Sonoma County is considered one of the world’s premier winegrowing regions, producing an unparalleled range of varietals and wine styles. SCV has promoted this diversity and quality since 1944, and currently represents more than 165 member wineries and 25 Affiliate Members. For more information on the wines and wineries of Sonoma County, visit www.sonomawine.com.

About Sonoma County Winegrape Commission

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission was established in 2006 as a non-profit marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. SCWC’s goal is to increase awareness and recognition of the quality and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers around the world. For more information about SCWC and its programs, visit www.sonomawinegrape.org

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