What happens if wineries violate label codes? The answer may come soon, as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) recently recommended a winery lose its license to sell wine in the state, according to The Oregonian.
Here's a look at the violation and what may be in store for the California winery.
Label Violation Details
Officials found that winery Copper Cane, which is actually based in California's Napa Valley, was "fanciful" and misleading to its consumers by saying that its Pinot Noir and Rose wines come from the Willamette region of Oregon. Copper Cane labels also indicated that wines came from the Rogue and Umpqua Valleys.
The problem is that these regions are American Viticultural Areas (ACAs), which are determined by federal law. This claim cannot be made unless the wine is made in the same state where the grapes are grown. In Copper Cane's case, the grapes were purchased from Oregon, but shipped to California to be made there.
On a federal level, 75 percent of grapes used in a wine must be from the region the label claims, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. However, in Oregon, laws require that 95 percent of the grapes be from the alleged AVA.
The label laws in place are meant to protect Oregon's wine industry, which Capital Press says is worth $5.6 billion.
Other Elements Of the Dispute
The OLCC reportedly issued a notice that would revoke Copper Cane's certificate of approval to distribute and sell its wine products in Oregon. This came after Copper Cane agreed to surrender the labels in question, after several Oregon winemakers asked government agencies to investigate the winery's claims.
The OLCC has now found seven violations, and the agency director said that the winery showed complete "disregard for the law."
Some are arguing against the OLCC's notice and the uproar in the Oregon wine community. The vice president of operations at Copper Cane said that the original labels with the supposed violation had been approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and that they had agreed to remove the labels when the issue arose. He also thinks that the popularity of their wine can only help the Oregon wine industry, not take away from it.
But others in Oregon think that the winery was attempting to gain an unfair advantage over the Oregon wine community, by using the well-known AVA name in Oregon to sell its product. Copper Cane has until December 20 to make an appeal.