Full Disclosure: Ridge Vineyards to include full ingredients list on label


Finding a bottle of wine with full disclosure of an ingredients list on the label may start to be more common in the U.S. On Reserve recently discussed the idea of full ingredients in a prior post, but recent news indicates that a full ingredients list is starting to appear on several wine labels. California Ridge Vineyards’s 2011 vintage will contain full disclosure of the wine’s ingredients as well as the actions followed to produce the wine. In other words, a food-styled ingredients list is presumed to appear on the labels of Ridge’s 2011 release.

As we discussed several weeks ago, wines containing 7% alcohol by volume or greater are not required to disclose ingredients in full. (However, some disclosure, such as “Contains Sulfites,” is required.) Wines falling into the 7% alcohol by volume category are regulated by TTB, which presently does not require the ingredients list that we see on many FDA-regulated food products (including low volume alcohol wines). Of course, the wine label ingredient list released by Ridge Vineyards contains some differences from what is generally seen on a food label.

While Ridge is not the first winery to release a full ingredients list on its wines, Dave McIntyre speculates that Ridge might have a greater influence over the industry than current full disclosure labels (including those from Bonny Doon, as here and here, and Shinn Estate, as here and here). But maybe instead of focusing on the—intended or unintentional—industry influence Ridge Vineyards’s label may generate, perhaps the proper question is instead as follows: Are we, as consumers, entering a time period where full ingredient disclosure on wine labels is influential to our purchases? Is there ever an instance where it is advantageous for a winemaker to tell a full story on a label?

If ingredient lists are to be used on wine labels going forward, perhaps we will start to see some guidance as to when a winemaker can use terms in the ingredient list and exactly what must be disclosed in an ingredients list.

About the author
Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is a recent law school graduate and has a passion for the hospitality industry that furnishes her interest in wine law. Currently, she works at an alcohol beverage and food law firm in Washington, D.C. Lindsey passed the July 2012 New York State Bar Exam and is currently awaiting admission to the New York Bar (pending results from her character and fitness exam).

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