That new conjunctive labeling law in Sonoma
Back in December, 2009, I blogged on “the Sonoma County label war,” a proposal by the Sonoma County Vintners by which every bottle of wine produced in the county would have to bear the words “Sonoma County” on the label. That meant, if the wine came from Russian River Valley, it would have to say “Russian River Valley – Sonoma County.” Ditto for all of Sonoma’s other 12 AVAs.
I expressed some doubt at the time whether this was really the best thing the county could do to promote itself. It seemed like a too little, too late approach to make up for the diluted Sonoma County reputation the county caused by creating so many appellations in the 1980s.
Over the weekend, the California Legislature unanimously approved a bill that essentially enacts the Sonoma County Vintners concept, dubbed “conjunctive labeling,” into law. Since there’s no reason to think Gov. Schwarzenegger won’t sign it, the new law will likely go into effect, although not for another three years.
Three other California wine regions have conjunctive labeling laws: Napa Valley, Lodi and Paso Robles.
I asked my Facebook friends, many of whom are California winemakers, what they think of this law, and the response was pretty negative. I can’t explain that; I simply report. A few examples:
“Capture winery is totally opposed.” — Tara Sharp
“My label is Dane Cellars and I oppose it also.” — Bart Hansen
“Horrible law.” — David Grega
“Dumb, dumb and dumber. I have withdrawn from the Vintners in protest and won’t participate in any of their marketing efforts.” — John M. Kelly
“…we are also considering withdrawing. Most upsetting: we’ve voiced our concerns to the Sonoma County Vintners in a detailed, thoughtful way and they’ve completely ignored our points.” — Tara Sharp
“F’n ridiculous, moronic, and other words not fit to type.” — Hardy Wallace
“It’s a bad idea, and it sets a bad precedent for other large geographical AVAs to ram the same sort of requirement through their state legislatures.” — Randy Hall
“it’s silly” — Mark Clarin
Although to be fair, there were a few defenders:
“I think its great personally, strength via solidarity, and seems plenty of industry concurred; just b/c SVVGA didn’t follow your concerns doesn’t mean they weren’t listening.” — William Allen
“Is the Napa law ridiculous too? What about Paso Robles? How about Lodi? The one thing Sonoma County (wineries) ALWAYS gets criticized for is that they can’t come together for a common good… and a lot of the comments above illustrate that point exactly.” — Kelly Keagy