Monday, December 9, 2013

American Viticultural Areas(AVAs)

When selecting a wine of a specific style such as Cabernet Sauvignon, you will want to consider where the grapes used to make the wine came from.  In the United States, the various growing areas are identified by their American Viticultural Areas(AVAs).  AVAs can be as large as a state, the size of a county or much smaller.  Some AVAs may be composed of smaller sub-AVAs.  For example, the Napa Valley AVA includes 16 sub-AVAs.  The AVA identified on the bottle must be the source of 85% of the grapes used to create the wine.

From largest to smallest, a wine can be identified by
     State                      e.g. California
     County                         Napa
     AVA                            Napa Valley
     sub-AVA                     Oakville
     Vineyard                      Crooked Vine Vineyard

The smaller, more specific the designation, the more expensive the wine.  For example, at Costco you can find a Kirkland California Cab in a large bottle for a low cost.  Recently, I found a Kirkland Napa Valley Cab for around $13 and a Kirkland Oakville Cab for almost $20.  All 3 of these are a good price when comparing them with wines of similar AVA designation.  Of course, the quality of these wines improves with the price.