Many countries have specific wine growing region designations. In some cases these designations may also include legalaties of what winegrapes may be used in commercially produced wines, what proportions of winegrapes may be used in blends, and even what dates haarvest may take place.
In the United States such restrictions on what can be sold would never be accepted. However, the legalities of what region can be printed on the bottle label are standardized -- this is known as the American Viticultural Area (AVA).
The AVA is defined at the Federal level by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). Specific designations are petitioned for by those concerned, with an open feedback period before being codified.
Until recently, WA State had 3 viticultural areas, Walla Walla, Yakima Valley, and Columbia Valley (which comprises much of the rest of Eastern WA). In 1995 Gerard Bentryn of Bainbridge Island Winery succeeded in getting the Puget Sound AVA created. In 2000, the Red Mountain AVA was established.
In 2005/06, two more were established, Wahluke Slope and Horse Heaven Hills.
Appellation definitions, BATF Title 27, Volume 1, Parts 9 AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREAS
American Viticultural Areas explained by The Wine Institute
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