Wine 101: Terms: What Is an AVA?

This episode of “Wine 101” is sponsored by Orin Swift. It’s no secret that AVAs are one of the most important developments in the wine industry. Orin Swift represents wine across the state of California from multiple AVAs and over 100 different vineyards. They know how to capitalize on progress — cheers to that.

Before 1935, there were no rules in place to make sure Champagne came from Champagne or Bordeaux came from Bordeaux. So the French created the AOC appellation system, mainly as a way to battle the rise in wine fraud. This kicked off a domino effect across Europe, as countries like Italy, Spain, and Germany adopted their own appellation systems to keep their wine regions organized.

About 45 years later, the U.S. finally followed suit, establishing the American Viticultural Area (AVA) system. Unlike the European “Old World” models, the AVA network has pretty loose requirements — the “Oxford Wine Companion” even calls it “rudimentary.” For instance, only 85 percent of the grapes used in an AVA-specific wine must actually come from that AVA, allowing the remaining 15 percent of liquid to be a blend of just about anything. There are also AVAs that are almost defunct. One such plot of land exists in the Pacific Northwest riddled with overgrown, neglected thickets of Riesling. But this is not to say that the AVA system is sloppy or flawed. Rather, its rules are intentionally laid back to encourage experimentation and innovation.

In this episode, Keith takes a deep dive into what an AVA is. The history was covered in the History of American Wine series in Season 3, but what is an AVA in the modern sense of today’s wine world? Tune in for more.

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“Wine 101” was produced, recorded, and edited by yours truly, Keith Beavers, at the VinePair headquarters in New York City. I want to give a big old shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for creating VinePair. Big shout-out to Danielle Grinberg, the art director of VinePair, for creating the most awesome logo for this podcast. Also, Darby Cicci for the theme song. Listen to this. And I want to thank the entire VinePair staff for helping me learn something new every day. See you next week.

E. & J. Gallo Winery is excited to sponsor this episode of VinePair’s “Wine 101.” Gallo always welcomes new friends to wine with an amazingly wide spectrum of favorites, ranging from everyday to luxury and sparkling wine. (Gallo also makes award-winning spirits, but this is a wine podcast.) Whether you are new to wine or an aficionado, Gallo welcomes you to wine. Visit today to find your next favorite, where shipping is available.