Court limits use of 'Napa' on wine labels

/ Source: The Associated Press

Wine labeled as coming from the Napa Valley must be made mostly from grapes that grew there, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The ruling upheld a state law requiring that wine sold with "Napa" on the label must be made from at least 75 percent Napa-grown grapes. Growing conditions in Napa are considered ideal for wine grapes.

The law, passed in 2000, was blocked after Bronco Wine Co. won an injunction from a state appellate court. Bronco argued the law was unconstitutional because it restricts the company's free speech and bars labels already approved by federal regulators.

Bronco, which is based in Ceres in the San Joaquin Valley, makes Napa Ridge, Rutherford Vintners and Napa Creek wines from grapes grown outside the Napa Valley. The origin of the grapes is printed on the front and back labels, but in smaller print than the brand names.

Federal regulations also require that if a wine label refers to a specific region, then at least 75 percent of the grapes in the wine must come from that region. However, there is an exception for brands established before 1986.

The state law closed that loophole, but Bronco had challenged the law, saying the federal rules should be followed.

The case is Bronco Wine Co. v. Jolly.