ATF

Sample Block


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

[Federal Register: March 20, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 54)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 13583-13585]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr20mr98-45]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

27 CFR Part 9

[Notice No. 858]
RIN 1512-AA07

 
Chiles Valley Viticultural Area (96F-111)

AGENCY: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Treasury.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has received 
a petition for the establishment of a viticultural area in Napa County, 
California, to be known as ``Chiles Valley.'' This proposal is the 
result of a petition submitted by Mr. Volker Eisele, owner of the 
Volker Eisele Vineyard and Winery.

DATES: Written comments must be received by May 19, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: Chief, Regulations Branch, Bureau 
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, P.O. Box 50221, Washington, D.C. 
20091-0221 (Attn: Notice No. 858). Copies of the petition, the proposed 
regulation, the appropriate maps, and written comments will be 
available for public inspection during normal business hours at: ATF 
Public Reading Room, Office of Public Affairs and Disclosure, Room 
6480, 650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas B. Busey, Specialist, 
Regulations Branch, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 650 
Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20226, (202) 927-8230.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On August 23, 1978, ATF published Treasury decision ATF-53 (43 FR 
37672, 54624) revising regulations in 27 CFR part 4. These regulations 
allow the establishment of definitive viticultural areas. The 
regulations allow the name of an approved viticultural area to be used 
as an appellation of origin on wine labels and in wine advertisements. 
On October 2, 1979, ATF published Treasury decision ATF-60 (44 FR 
56692) which added a new part 9 to 27 CFR, providing for the listing of 
approved American viticultural areas, the names of which may be used as 
appellations of origin.
    Section 4.25a(e)(1), Title 27, CFR, defines an American 
viticultural area as a delimited grape-growing region distinguishable 
by geographic features, the boundaries of which have been delineated in 
Subpart C of part 9.
    Section 4.25(e)(2), Title 27, CFR, outlines the procedure for 
proposing an American viticultural area. Any interested person may 
petition ATF to establish a grape-growing region as a viticultural 
area. The petition should include:
    (a) Evidence that the name of the proposed viticultural area is 
locally and/or nationally known as referring to the area specified in 
the petition;
    (b) Historical or current evidence that the boundaries of the 
viticultural area are as specified in the petition;
    (c) Evidence relating to the geographical characteristics (climate, 
soil, elevation, physical features, etc.) which distinguish the 
viticultural features of the proposed area from surrounding areas;
    (d) A description of the specific boundaries of the viticultural 
area, based on features which can be found on United States Geological 
Survey (U.S.G.S.) maps of the largest applicable scale, and;
    (e) A copy (or copies) of the appropriate U.S.G.S. map(s) with the 
proposed boundaries prominently marked.

Petition

    ATF has received a petition from Mr. Volker Eisele, representing 
the Chiles Valley District Committee proposing to establish a new 
viticultural area in Napa County, California to be known as ``Chiles 
Valley District.'' The proposed Chiles Valley District viticultural 
area is located entirely within the Napa Valley. The proposed 
viticultural area is located in the eastern portion of Napa Valley 
between and on the same latitude as St. Helena and Rutherford. It 
contains approximately 6,000 acres, of which 1,000 are planted to 
vineyards. Four wineries are currently active within the proposed 
viticultural area.

Evidence That the Name of the Area Is Locally or Nationally Known

    An historical survey written by Charles Sullivan spells out the 
historical use of the name Chiles Valley and vineyard plantings dating 
back to the late 1800's. Numerous references exist indicating the 
general use of the name ``Chiles Valley'' to refer to the petitioned 
area. The petitioner included copies of title pages of various 
publications, guide and tour book references, public and private phone 
book listings and Federal and State agency maps, to illustrate the use 
of the name.
    In the petitioner's original proposal, the term ``district'' was 
included as part of the viticultural area name (i.e., Chiles Valley 
District). Although the petitioner stated that there was no historical 
evidence for the use of the term ``district'' in conjunction with 
Chiles Valley, the committee felt that the use of this term was 
important to emphasize that the Chiles Valley was part of a larger 
valley, in this case the Napa Valley, which totally surrounds the 
proposed viticultural area. Under California state law an appellation 
that is totally surrounded by the Napa Valley appellation can only use 
the name conjunctively with the name Napa Valley on any wine label. ATF 
has permitted the addition of the term ``District'' to the proposed 
names of viticultural areas before. See Stag's Leap District, 27 CFR 
9.117; San Ysidro District, 27 CFR 9.130; and, Spring Mountain 
District, 27 CFR 9.143. However, in each of these there was evidence 
submitted to justify the use of the term ``district'' as part of the 
viticultural area name.
    ATF does not believe the petitioner has submitted sufficient 
evidence to support the use of the term ``District'' with Chiles 
Valley. Consequently, the name of the proposed viticultural area is 
being proposed as ``Chiles Valley.'' However, ATF encourages the 
submission of any specific comments on the issue of whether the term 
``district'' in the proposed name is appropriate.

Historical or Current Evidence That the Boundaries of the Viticultural 
Area Are as Specified in the Petition

    According to the petitioner, the boundaries establish a grape 
producing area with an identifiable character and quality, based on 
climate, topography, and historical tradition. The historical evidence 
can be dated to the mid 1800's with a land grant from the Mexican 
government to Joseph Ballinger Chiles, whose name the valley would 
later bear. The land grant was called Rancho Catacula and these lands 
all lie within the proposed appellation boundaries. The boundaries of 
the land grant are still recognized on U.S.G.S. maps of the area. A 
vineyard planting was one of the earliest agricultural operations 
conducted. For the most part the

[[Page 13584]]

boundaries of the proposed area use the land grant (Rancho line) 
boundary lines. This area includes virtually all lands that in any way 
might be used for agricultural purposes. Beyond the Rancho line are 
very steep slopes, which are mostly part of the serpentine chaparral 
soil formation. Historically it is also fairly clear the land grant 
boundaries were drawn to include usable land rather than the watershed, 
which, on all sides of the old Rancho Catacula is much further up the 
slopes. In sum, the petitioner believes the proposed boundaries 
encompass an area of remarkable uniformity with respect to soils, 
climate and elevation that produce a unique microclimate within the 
Napa Valley.

Evidence Relating to the Geographical Features (Climate, Soil, 
Elevation, Physical Features, Etc.) Which Distinguish Viticultural 
Features of the Proposed Area From Surrounding Areas

    According to the petitioner, the geographical features of the 
proposed viticultural area set it apart from the surrounding area in 
the Napa Valley and produce a unique microclimate.
    The lands within the proposed boundaries generally lie between the 
800 and 1000 feet altitudes above sea level. The valley runs northwest 
to southeast and is therefore an open funnel for the prevailing 
northwesterly winds. This fairly constant northwesterly flow produces 
substantial cooling during the day and, in combination with the 
altitude, relatively dry air. During the night, this drier air leads to 
more rapid cooling than in most of the Napa Valley. In addition, the 
narrow valley surrounded by the hills up to 2200 feet concentrates the 
cooler air flowing down the hillsides toward the valley floor where the 
vineyards are located.
    Also, the relative distance from the San Pablo Bay and the Pacific 
Ocean allows the summer fog to move in much later than in the main Napa 
Valley. By the time the fog does reach the Chiles Valley the air 
temperatures have dropped much more dramatically than in the Napa 
Valley, thereby causing much lower temperatures during the night. Late 
fog ceiling, combined with low minimums, cause a very slow heat buildup 
during the day, again producing relatively cooler average temperature 
than is found in many places of the Napa Valley.
    Available data indicates a ``Region Two'' according to the U.C. 
Davis climate classification. The growing season starts later than in 
the Napa Valley due to a more continental winter with temperatures 
dropping below 20 degrees F. The high incidence of spring frost is 
another indication of the generally cooler climate conditions.
    In the areas immediately adjacent to the proposed boundaries, the 
micro-climate changes significantly. As one moves up the hillsides on 
either side of Chiles Valley the summer fog blanket gets thinner and 
thinner and disappears altogether at approximately 1400 to 1500 feet 
elevation.
    Since the cold air drains down into the Chiles Valley, the night 
time temperatures are quite a bit higher on the steep slopes than on 
the valley floor. In addition, the lack of fog allows a much faster 
temperature build up during the day, reaching the daily high two to 
three hours earlier than on the valley floor. Not only is the 
temperature drop at nightfall less, but also much more gradual so that 
during a 24 hour period the heat summation is substantially higher on 
the slopes than within the proposed boundaries. In winter, the 
situation is reversed. Strong winds tend to chill the uplands creating 
much more of a continental climate than on the valley floor. Snowfall 
above 1400 feet has been observed many times.
    The microclimatic limitations combined with enormous steepness and 
very poor soil (serpentine, heavy sandstone formations, and shale out 
croppings) create an abrupt change from the proposed viticultural area 
to the areas surrounding it.
    The petitioner believes that Pope Valley to the north of the 
proposed viticultural area is also significantly different. A 
combination of a lower elevation valley floor and substantially higher 
mountains on the western side causes the formation of inversion layers 
which result in substantially higher average temperatures during the 
growing season and significantly lower ones in the winter. In addition, 
the summer fog from the Pacific Ocean never reaches the Pope Valley.
    The petitioner also states that the particular interplay between 
climate and soil make for unique growing conditions in the proposed 
area. The soils within the proposed appellation are uncommonly well 
drained and of medium fertility. The overall terrain gently slopes 
toward a series of creeks which act as natural drainage for surface as 
well as subterranean water. The petitioner believes this is a good 
basis for high quality grapes.
    Uniform elevation and relatively uniform soil make the proposed 
viticultural area a clearly identifiable growing area. Almost all 
vineyards lie between 800 and 1000 feet elevation. As a general rule 
the soils in the Chiles Valley all belong to the Tehama Series: Nearly 
level to gently slopping, well drained Silt loams on flood plains and 
alluvial fans.
    The total planted acreage in 1996 was roughly 1000 acres. The 
remaining plantable area does not exceed 500 acres. This small size 
illuminates the petitioner's goal of a well defined, specific 
appellation.

Proposed Boundaries

    The boundaries of the proposed Chiles Valley viticultural area may 
be found on four 1:24,000 scale U.S.G.S. maps titled: St. Helena, CA 
(1960); Rutherford, CA (1968); Chiles Valley, CA (1980); and 
Yountville, CA (1968).

Public Participation-Written Comments

    ATF requests comments from all interested persons. Comments 
received on or before the closing data will be carefully considered. 
Comments received after that date will be given the same consideration 
if it is practical to do so. However, assurance of consideration can 
only be given on or before the closing date.
    ATF will not recognize any submitted material as confidential and 
comments may be disclosed to the public. Any material which the 
commenter considers to be confidential or inappropriate for disclosure 
to the public should not be included in the comments. The name of the 
person submitting a comment is not exempt from disclosure.
    Comments may be submitted by facsimile transmission to (202) 927-
8602, provided the comments: (1) Are legible; (2) are 8\1/2\'' x 11'' 
in size, (3) contain a written signature, and (4) are three pages or 
less in length. This limitation is necessary to assure reasonable 
access to the equipment. Comments sent by FAX in excess of three pages 
will not be accepted. Receipt of FAX transmittals will not be 
acknowledged. Facsimile transmitted comments will be treated as 
originals.
    Any person who desires an opportunity to comment orally at a public 
hearing on the proposed regulation should submit his or her request, in 
writing, to the Director within the 60-day comment period. The 
Director, however, reserves the right to determine, in light of all 
circumstances, whether a public hearing will be held.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, (44 U.S.C. 
3507(j)) and its implementing regulations, 5 CFR part 1320, do not 
apply to this notice of proposed rulemaking because no requirement to 
collect information is proposed.

[[Page 13585]]

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    It is hereby certified that this proposed regulation will not have 
a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The 
establishment of a viticultural area is neither an endorsement nor 
approval by ATF of the quality of wine produced in the area, but rather 
an identification of an area that is distinct from surrounding areas. 
ATF believes that the establishment of viticultural areas merely allows 
wineries to more accurately describe the origin of their wines to 
consumers, and helps consumers identify the wines they purchase. Thus, 
any benefit derived from the use of a viticultural area name is the 
result of the proprietor's own efforts and consumer acceptance of wines 
from the region.
    Accordingly, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required 
because the proposal, if promulgated as a final rule, is not expected 
(1) to have significant secondary, or incidental effects on a 
substantial number of small entities; or (2) to impose, or otherwise 
cause a significant increase in the reporting, recordkeeping, or other 
compliance burdens on a substantial number of small entities.

Executive Order 12866

    It has been determined that this proposed regulation is not a 
significant regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866. 
Accordingly, this proposal is not subject to the analysis required by 
this executive order.

Drafting Information

    The principal author of this document is Thomas B. Busey, 
Regulations Branch, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 9

    Administrative practices and procedures, Consumer protection, 
Viticultural areas, and Wine.

Authority and Issuance

    Title 27 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 9, American Viticultural 
Areas, is proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 9--AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREAS

    Paragraph 1. The authority citation for Part 9 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 27 U.S.C. 205.

    Par. 2. Subpart C is amended by adding Sec. 9.154 to read as 
follows:
* * * * *

Subpart C--Approved American Viticultural Areas


Sec. 9.154  Chiles Valley

    (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this 
section is ``Chiles Valley.''
    (b) Approved maps. The appropriate maps for determining the 
boundary of the Chiles Valley viticultural area are four 1:24,000 Scale 
U.S.G.S. topography maps. They are titled:
    (1) St. Helena, CA 1960 photorevised 1980
    (2) Rutherford, CA 1951 photorevised 1968
    (3) Chiles Valley, CA 1958 photorevised 1980
    (4) Yountville, CA 1951 photorevised 1968
    (c) Boundary. The Chiles Valley viticultural area is located in the 
State of California, entirely within the Napa Valley viticultural area. 
The boundaries of the Chiles Valley viticultural area, using landmarks 
and points of reference found on appropriate U.S.G.S. maps follow. The 
local names of roads are identified by name.
    (1) Beginning on the St. Helena, CA quadrangle map at the 
northernmost corner of Rancho Catacula in Section 34, Township 9 North 
(T9N), Range 5 West (R5W), Mount Diablo Base and Meridian (MDBM);
    (2) Then in southwesterly direction along the Rancho Catacula 
boundary line to its intersection with the Rancho La Jota boundary 
line;
    (3) Then in a south-southeasterly direction approximately 3,800 
feet along the Rancho Catacula/Rancho La Jota boundary line to the 
point where the Rancho Catacula boundary separates from the common 
boundary with Rancho La Jota;
    (4) Then in a southeasterly direction continuing along the Rancho 
Catacula boundary approximately 23,600 feet to a point of intersection, 
in the NE \1/4\ Sec. 19, T8N, R4W, on the Chiles Valley quadrangle map, 
with a county road known locally as Chiles and Pope Valley Road;
    (5) Then in a southwesterly direction along Chiles and Pope Valley 
Road to a point where it first crosses an unnamed blueline stream in 
the SE \1/4\ Section 19, T8N, R4W;
    (6) Then following the unnamed stream in generally southeast 
direction to its intersection with the 1200 foot contour;
    (7) Then following the 1200 foot contour in a northeasterly 
direction to a point of intersection with the Rancho Catacula boundary 
in section 20, T8N, R4W;
    (8) Then in a southeasterly direction along the Rancho Catcula 
boundary approximately 17,500 feet to the southwest corner of Rancho 
Catacula in section 34, T8N, R4W on the Yountville, CA, quadrangle map;
    (9) Then in a northeasterly direction along the Rancho Catacula 
boundary approximately 650 feet to its intersection with the 1040 foot 
contour;
    (10) Then along the 1040 foot contour in a generally east and 
northeast direction to its intersection with the Rancho Catacula 
boundary;
    (11) Then in a northeasterly direction along the Rancho Catacula 
boundary approximately 1100 feet to its intersection with the 1040 foot 
contour;
    (12) Then along the 1040 foot contour in an easterly direction and 
then in a northwesterly direction to its intersection of the Rancho 
Catacula boundary;
    (13) Then in a southwesterly direction along the Rancho Catacula 
boundary approximately 300 feet to a point of intersection with a line 
of high voltage power lines;
    (14) Then in a westerly direction along the high voltage line 
approximately 650 feet to its intersection with the 1000 foot contour;
    (15) Then continuing along the 1000 foot contour in a generally 
northwesterly direction to the point of intersection with the first 
unnamed blueline stream;
    (16) Then along the unnamed stream in a northerly direction to its 
point of intersection with the 1200 foot contour;
    (17) Then along the 1200 foot contour in a northwesterly direction 
to its points of intersection with the Rancho Catacula boundary in 
Section 35, T9N, R5W on the St. Helena, CA, quadrangle map;
    (18) Then along the Rancho Catacula boundary in a northwesterly 
direction approximately 5,350 feet to a northernmost corner of Rancho 
Catacula, the beginning point on the St. Helena quadrangle map a the 
northernmost corner of Rancho Catacula in Section 34, T9N, R5W, MDBM.

    Signed: February 20, 1998.
John W. Magaw,
Director.
[FR Doc. 98-7200 Filed 3-19-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4810-71-P