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American Viticulture Area

An American Viticulture Area (AVA) is a delimited grape-growing region distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the United States government's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The TTB defines these areas at the request of wineries and other petitioners.

Unlike most European appellations, an AVA specifies only a location. It does not limit the type of grapes grown, the method of vinification, or the yield, for example. Some of those factors may, however, be used by the petitioner when defining an AVA's boundaries.

Current regulations impose the following additional requirements on an AVA:

Petitioners such information when applying for a new AVA, and are also required to use USGS maps to both describe (using terms from the map) and depict the boundaries.

Once an AVA is established, at least 85% of the grapes used to make a wine must be grown in the specified area if an AVA is referenced on its label.

State or county boundaries, such as Oregon or Napa County, California, are not AVAs, even though they are used to identify the source of a wine. AVAs are reserved for situations where a geographically defined area has been using the name and it has come to be identified with that area. There are hundreds of AVAs, ranging in size from 26,000 square miles to less than a square mile.