The language of wine can be confusing, and that confusion often extends to the labels that adorn the bottles.
While many countries require very specific information on labels, it’s still not all black-and-white. A good example here in the United States is the use of the word “Reserve.” While such a designation would seem to indicate that there’s something special about the wine, there actually is no legal meaning.
That said, there are clearly delineated “rules” about placing the name of a specific vineyard source on a label — a topic explored in today’s Wine FAQ…
QUESTION: I’ve been reading about wine labels, and was wondering if you could explain what a “vineyard-designated” wine is.
ANSWER: As we mentioned, wine-speak can be confusing. But in the case of a vineyard-designated wine, the term actually provides an accurate description of what’s inside the bottle.
Geographic designations on wine bottles range from quite general (“California”… “North Coast”) to very specific, and the most specific in America is the vineyard-designated wine.
The term means that the grapes used to make the wine came from the vineyard named on the label. Such wines are made by vintners who believe that the unique character of the vineyard is deserving of special recognition.
One of the first vineyard-designated wines to attain widespread recognition was the Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, made by Napa Valley’s Heitz Cellars. It debuted with the 1966 vintage.