ATF

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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

[Federal Register: January 6, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 3)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 813-816]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr06ja99-20]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

27 CFR Part 4

[Notice No. 871]
RIN 1512-AB80

 
Petition for Johannisberg Riesling; Proposed Addition of Grape 
Variety Names for American Wines; Request for Additional Information 
for Other Proposed Grape Varieties (98R-406P)

AGENCY: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Department of the 
Treasury.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has received 
a petition proposing to extend the phase-out date for the use of the 
term Johannisberg Riesling as a designation for American wines, from 
January 1, 1999, until January 1, 2006. The effect of this proposed 
change would allow U.S. wineries to use Johannisberg Riesling as a 
designation for American wines made from White Riesling grapes for an 
additional seven years. The petition was received from the law firm of 
Buchman & O'Brien, and was filed on behalf of trade associations 
representing United States wineries. This petition asserts that this 
change would allow American wineries additional time to educate 
consumers about the name change, and would provide additional time for 
wineries to change labels, packaging, and merchandising material for 
this wine. This petition proposes to extend the phase-out date for the 
term Johannisberg Riesling to January 1, 2006. After that date, wine 
made from White Riesling grapes would be required to be designated 
either ``Riesling'' or ``White Riesling.''
    ATF has also received petitions proposing to add two new names, 
Traminette and Aglianico, to the list of prime grape variety names for 
use in designating American wines. Finally, ATF is soliciting comments 
or petitions for other grape varieties which wineries wish to use in 
producing and designating American varietal wines. These proposals are 
intended to ensure the list of prime grape names reflects grape 
varieties currently in use. ATF believes the listing of approved names 
of grape varieties for American wines will help standardize wine label 
terminology and prevent consumer confusion.

DATES: Written comments must be received by March 8, 1999. ATF 
specifically requests comments on the clarity of the proposed rule and 
how it may be made easier to understand.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: Chief, Regulations Division, 
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, P.O. Box 50221, Washington, DC 
20091-0221; Notice No. 871.
    A copy of the petition and written comments in response to this 
notice of proposed rulemaking will be available for public inspection 
during normal business hours at: ATF Reference Library, Office of 
Public Affairs and Disclosure, Room 6300, 650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, 
Washington, DC 20226.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Teri Byers, Regulations Division, 
650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20226; Telephone (202) 
927-8195, or e-mail: <thbyers@atf.gov>.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Under Sec. 4.23(b), a wine bottler may use a grape variety name as 
the designation of a wine if not less than 75 percent of the wine (51 
percent in some circumstances) is derived from that grape variety. 
Under Sec. 4.23(d), a bottler may use the name of two or more grape 
variety names as the designation of a wine if all varieties are listed 
on the brand label and the percentage of the

[[Page 814]]

wine derived from each grape variety is shown on the label.
    Treasury Decision ATF-370, 61 FR 522, January 8, 1996, adopted a 
list of grape variety names which ATF has determined to be appropriate 
for use in designating American wines. The list of prime grape names 
and their synonyms appears at Sec. 4.91, while additional alternative 
grape names temporarily authorized for use are listed at Sec. 4.92. 
Section 4.93 provides a means by which interested persons may petition 
the Director for inclusion of additional grape variety names in the 
list of prime grape names. Treasury Decision ATF-370 did not include 
Johannisberg Riesling in the list of prime names, either as a prime 
grape name or as a synonym. Johannisberg Riesling was instead listed as 
an alternative name in Sec. 4.92 for use in advertising and labeling 
wines only until January 1, 1999, after which the required varietal 
designation for this wine would be Riesling or the synonym White 
Riesling.

A. Johannisberg Riesling

    Treasury Decision ATF-370 authorized the use of the name 
``Riesling,'' standing by itself, as the prime name for wine made from 
this grape. Through evidence received during the rulemaking process, 
ATF determined that there was no longer the necessity to distinguish 
wine made from the true Riesling grape by use of the term 
``Johannisberg Riesling.'' Based on this evidence, and to provide 
accurate and correct grape variety names, ATF concluded that the name 
Johannisberg Riesling should no longer be permitted as a grape variety 
designation. Accordingly, Johannisberg Riesling was removed as a 
synonym for Riesling and made an alternative name in Sec. 4.92. 
Johannisberg Riesling is listed in Sec. 4.92(b), permitting its use in 
labeling wines prior to January 1, 1999.
    ATF has received a petition from the law firm of Buchman & O'Brien, 
filed on behalf of trade associations representing United States 
wineries, requesting that ATF amend Sec. 4.92 by adding a new paragraph 
(c). This proposed paragraph would authorize the use of the term 
``Johannisberg Riesling'' for wines bottled prior to January 1, 2006. 
At the same time, the petition would remove Johannisberg Riesling from 
the list of grape names in Sec. 4.92(b) which may only be used as grape 
wine designations for wine bottled prior to January 1, 1999.
    The petition gives several reasons for extending the phase-out date 
of the term Johannisberg Riesling for American wines. Despite the fact 
that ATF made it clear in the notices issued prior to TD ATF-370 that 
there was significant controversy surrounding the term Johannisberg 
Reisling, the petition alleges that ATF failed to provide the industry 
with notice that it was phasing out the term. The petition states that 
ATF provided such notice with other terms, e.g., Cabernet, Grey 
Reisling, Muscat Frontignon and Napa Gamay, because the two notices of 
proposed rulemaking issued prior to TD ATF-370 specifically proposed 
phasing out these terms. However, these notices did not specifically 
propose to phase-out the term Johannisberg Riesling. The petitioner 
also cites the 10-year phase-out period in the recently published 
Treasury decision relating to Gamay Beaujolais as support for extending 
the period. The petition asserts that because the Johannisberg Riesling 
designation has been in documented commercial use for over 100 years, 
an additional 7 years would provide enough transitional time to educate 
the consuming public regarding the designation change. Finally, the 
petition states that the abrupt elimination of Johannisberg Riesling 
would cause material economic harm and hardship to the United States 
wine industry.
    In addition to the petition from Buchman & O'Brien, the Deutsches 
Weininstitut GmbH has submitted a letter supporting the extension of 
the transition period for the phase-out of Johannisberg Riesling. 
Recent letters from wine industry members have demonstrated their 
support for an extended transition period. Lastly, a marketing 
communications company, ELGIN, provided marketing information 
illustrating the negative impact on wineries and consumers should ATF 
restrict the Johannisberg Riesling phase-out period to three years. 
ELGIN drew a comparison between Johannisberg Riesling and the 1982 
Nissan Corporation's decision to change from the Datsun brand name to 
Nissan. The change was implemented in the United States over a six year 
period, however Nissan still saw it's share drop in the first two years 
from 5.9 percent to 4.5 percent due to the name change.
    ATF requests comments from interested persons concerning this 
proposal to extend the phase-out date for the use of Johannisberg 
Riesling for seven years. ATF is also seeking any additional marketing 
studies or information regarding the impact on wineries and consumers 
should ATF restrict the phase-out period of Johannisberg Riesling to a 
shorter period. ATF wishes to make it clear that the airing of this 
petition does not represent any change in ATF's position, as stated in 
the preamble of T.D. ATF-370, to eventually phase-out use of the term 
Johannisberg Riesling. This proposal only relates to Johannisberg 
Riesling and does not concern the use of geographic terms in labeling 
American wines.

B. Proposed Addition of Grape Varieties

    ATF has received several petitions proposing that new grape variety 
names be listed in Sec. 4.91. Under Sec. 4.93 any interested person may 
petition ATF to include additional grape varieties in the list of prime 
grape names. Information for a petition includes evidence of the 
following: (1) Acceptance of the new grape variety; (2) the validity of 
the name for identifying the grape variety; (3) information that the 
variety is used or will be used in winemaking; and (4) information that 
the variety is grown and used in the United States. For the approval of 
names of new grape varieties, the petition should include: (1) A 
reference to the publication of the name of the variety in a scientific 
or professional journal of horticulture or a published report by a 
professional, scientific or winegrowers' organization; (2) a reference 
to a plant patent, if patented; and (3) information about the 
commercial potential of the variety such as the acreage planted or 
market studies. Section 4.93 also places certain restrictions on grape 
names which will be approved. A name will not be approved if it has 
previously been used for a different grape variety; if it contains a 
term or name found to be misleading under Sec. 4.39; or if a name of a 
new grape variety contains the term ``Riesling.'' The Director reserves 
the authority to disapprove the name of a newly-developed grape variety 
if the name contains words of geographical significance, place names, 
or foreign words which are misleading under Sec. 4.39.
    While two of the petitions proposing additional names appear to 
have provided sufficient evidence to satisfy Sec. 4.93, ATF believes 
the other petitions need further evidence. Consequently, ATF is 
requesting further information from all sources regarding those 
petitions. ATF has reviewed available sources to determine whether any 
of the proposed names are entitled to protection as geographic 
indications under international agreements. ATF found no information 
indicating that any of these proposed variety names are entitled to 
such protection.
1. Petitions Appearing To Have Sufficient Evidence To Satisfy Sec. 4.93
    Traminette Petition. At the request of Arbor Hill Associates, 
Naples, NY, Dr. Bruce Reicsh of the New York State

[[Page 815]]

Agricultural Station, Cornell University, Geneva, NY, submitted a 
letter requesting that ATF include the grape variety ``Traminette'' on 
the list of prime grape names. According to Reisch's letter, Traminette 
is a grape variety recently released by Cornell University. It is a 
cross of Joannes-Seyve 23-416 with Gewurztraminer which was first made 
in 1965. The grapes from this cross were found to make excellent wine 
with similarities to their vinifera parent. Through extensive 
experimental plantings, Traminette has proven to be more winter hardy 
than its parent, very productive, and moderately resistant to powdery 
mildew and black rot.
    The petition asserts that wines made with Traminette grapes have 
received high scores from Geneva Experimental Station taste panels 
since 1972, and amateur winemakers have produced good wines using these 
grapes. According to the petition, this grape was informally known as 
the ``Gewurztraminer Hybrid'' until recently when the New York State 
Agricultural Research Station in Geneva formally named this hybrid 
``Traminette.'' The Traminette hybrid will not be patented. Vines are 
commercially available for sale, and at least one winery has applied 
for a certificate of label approval for a Traminette wine.
    Based on the evidence presented in this letter, ATF proposes to add 
the grape variety ``Traminette'' to the list of prime grape names at 
Sec. 4.91.
    Aglianico Petition. The Caparone Winery located in Paso Robles, 
California, petitioned ATF to add the grape variety name ``Aglianico'' 
to the list of prime grape names at Sec. 4.91. According to their 
petition, Aglianico has long been recognized as one of Italy's finest 
red grape varieties. The petition states that this grape was cultivated 
in Italy by the Greeks and early Romans making it one of the oldest 
identified grape varieties.
    Caparone Winery's petition states that Aglianico vines have been 
grown in the collection of the University of California at Davis for 
more than 50 years, and that their collection has been certified as 
true to variety. Their petition includes a letter from the Foundation 
Plants Materials Service at UC Davis attesting to the fact that 
Aglianico vines are grown in their vineyards and that these vines have 
been inspected by Dr. Anna Schneider, a recognized Italian grape 
variety expert and found to be true to variety.
    Caparone Winery states they currently (as of June 1996) have 3\1/2\ 
acres of Aglianico grapes planted, that they have produced four 
vintages of wine from these grapes, and that the quality of wine 
produced from them is excellent. They further state that other 
California wineries have plantings of this grape in their vineyards, 
and they expect there will be continuing interest in making wine from 
these grapes.
    Based on the evidence presented in this petition, ATF proposes to 
add the grape variety ``Aglianico'' to the list of prime grape names at 
Sec. 4.91.
2. Proposals Currently Lacking Sufficient Evidence To Satisfy Sec. 4.93
    Since the publication of T.D. ATF-370 in January 1996, ATF has 
received other petitions and requests to use grape variety names not 
listed in Sec. 4.91. Some of these requests have not contained all of 
the information required by Sec. 4.93, or have requested names that ATF 
has not been able to verify to be the correct variety as grown in the 
United States. Accordingly, we seek information about these proposed 
grape varieties which might lead to their future listing. If ATF 
receives sufficient documentation relative to specific grape varieties 
in response to this notice, we will list those names in Sec. 4.91.
    Vernaccia. Millbrook Winery, Millbrook, NY petitioned ATF to list 
the grape variety ``Vernaccia.'' Millbrook's petition states that they 
obtained Vernaccia cuttings from the Foundation Plants Materials 
Service at University of California at Davis several years ago, and 
have cultivated this grape in their vineyards.
    According to available literature, the term ``Vernaccia'' is 
associated with several unrelated Italian grape varieties including 
Vernaccia di Oristano, Vernaccia di San Giminiano, Vernaccia di 
Serrapetrona also called Vernaccia Nera, and Vernaccia Trentina also 
called Bianchetta Trevigiana. These varieties include both green and 
black grapes, and they are used in making distinctively different red, 
white, and sparkling wines. It is unclear from Millbrook's petition or 
from the Foundation Plants Materials Service listing which 
``Vernaccia'' grape is actually contained in the FPMS collection and 
grown in vineyards in the United States. Until a positive determination 
is made, ATF will not list a nonspecific ``Vernaccia'' grape in the 
list of prime grape names. ATF seeks any information which will enable 
a positive identification of the ``Vernaccia'' grape(s) grown in the 
United States. If the evidence submitted pursuant to this notice 
supports inclusion of this name, then it will be adopted as part of the 
final rule.
    Counoise. Eberle Winery, Paso Robles, California, petitioned ATF to 
list the grape variety Counoise in Sec. 4.91. Although this is a well 
documented red variety from the Rhone region of France, ATF has 
insufficient information to determine whether it is suitable for wine 
production in the United States, or the extent to which it may be grown 
domestically. ATF welcomes information about the domestic cultivation 
of this grape variety. If the evidence submitted pursuant to this 
notice supports inclusion of this name, then it will be adopted as part 
of the final rule.
    Trousseau vs. Bastardo. Section 4.91 lists Trousseau as a prime 
grape name while Sec. 4.92 lists Bastardo as an alternative name for 
this grape variety which cannot be used for designating American wine 
after January 1, 1997. Trousseau is a French name for the grape while 
Bastardo is the Portuguese name. Because of the use of this grape in 
producing Port-style dessert wines, ATF has been requested to reexamine 
whether the name Bastardo should be authorized as a synonym for 
Trousseau, or whether Bastardo should replace Trousseau as the prime 
grape name at Sec. 4.91. ATF welcomes comments on these names.
    Miscellaneous varieties. ATF is aware of several newly-developed 
grape varieties including several which may have potential for use in 
winemaking. ATF is aware also that many domestic wineries are 
experimenting with old world vinifera varieties not currently listed in 
Sec. 4.91. We would like to remind the public that we welcome petitions 
from interested persons proposing to list additional grape varieties at 
Sec. 4.91.
    Public Participation--Written Comments
    ATF requests comments from all interested persons. All comments 
received on or before the closing date will be carefully considered. 
Comments received after that date will be given the same consideration 
if it is practical to do so, but assurance of consideration cannot be 
given except as to comments received on or before the closing date.
    ATF will not recognize any material in comments as confidential. 
Comments may be disclosed to the public. Any material that a respondent 
considers to be confidential or inappropriate for disclosure to the 
public should not be included in the comment. The name of any 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. Comments sent by FAX in excess of three pages

[[Page 816]]

will not be accepted. Receipt of FAX transmittals will not be 
acknowledged. Facsimile transmitted comments will be treated as 
originals.

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.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    It is hereby certified that this regulation will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
This regulation will extend the phase-out period for the use of the 
term Johannisberg Riesling and it will permit the use of other grape 
varietal names. The regulation will not impose any recordkeeping or 
reporting requirements. Accordingly, a regulatory flexibility analysis 
is not required because the 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.

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.

Disclosure

    Copies of this notice and written comments will be available for 
public inspection during normal business hours at: ATF Reading Room, 
Disclosure Branch, Room 6300, 650 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, 
DC.
    Drafting Information. This notice was written by Charles N. Bacon 
and Teri H. Byers, Regulations Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and 
Firearms.

List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 4

    Advertising, Consumer protection, Customs duties and inspections, 
Imports, Labeling, Packaging and containers, Wine.

Authority and Issuance

    Accordingly, 27 CFR Part 4, Labeling and Advertising of Wine, is 
amended as follows:

PART 4--AMENDED

    Paragraph 1. The authority citation for Part 4 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 27 U.S.C. 205.

    Par. 2. Section 4.91 is amended by adding the names ``Aglianico'' 
and ``Traminette,'' in alphabetical order, to the list of prime grape 
names, to read as follows:


Sec. 4.91  List of approved prime names.

* * * * *
Aglianico
* * * * *
Traminette
* * * * *
    Par. 3. Section 4.92 is amended by removing the name ``Johannisberg 
Riesling'' from paragraph (b) and revising paragraph (b), and by adding 
a new paragraph (c), to read as follows:


Sec. 4.92  Alternative names permitted for temporary use.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (b) Wines bottled prior to January 1, 1999.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Alternative name                        Prime name
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Cabernet..................................  Cabernet Sauvignon.
Grey Riesling.............................  Trousseau gris.
Muscat Frontignan.........................  Muscat blanc.
Muscat Pantelleria........................  Muscat of Alexandria.
Napa Gamay................................  Valdiguie.
Pinot Saint George........................  Negrette.
Sauvignon vert............................  Muscadelle.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (c) Wines bottled prior to January 1, 2006.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Alternative name                        Prime name
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Johannisberg Riesling.....................  Riesling.
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    Signed: October 16, 1998.
John W. Magaw,
Director.

    Approved: November 20, 1998.
John P. Simpson,
Deputy Assistant Secretary (Regulatory, Tariff & Trade Enforcement).
[FR Doc. 98-34844 Filed 12-31-98; 2:07 pm]
BILLING CODE 4810-31-U