Oregon also has stricter regulations than other U.S. regions when it comes to labeling the varieties used in a wine. Federal regulation states that at least 75% of grapes used to make a wine must be of the declared variety in an identified appellation of origin. In Oregon, 90% or more of the wine must be from the named variety, including Oregon’s most widely produced wines: Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Chardonnay, Pinot blanc and 50 other varieties known to grow in Oregon.
However, there are 18 grape varieties exempted from Oregon’s 90% minimum requirement for varietal labeling and allowed to be blended with up to 25% other varieties. These include: Cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Malbec, Marsanne, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Sauvignon blanc, Semillion, Syrah, Tannat, Tempranillo and Zinfandel. These varieties have a long history of being used for blending in their respective European regions, and the exemption allows vinification following in their historical tradition.
By making the regulations regarding declaration of appellation of origin and varietals stricter than the federal regulation, the Oregon wine industry is able to protect and properly represent the state’s terroir, and therefore its quality. For additional information on Oregon wine labeling regulation read this document released by the Oregon Winegrowers Association.
In addition to the implementation of stricter labeling rules, Oregon was also an original signatory of the Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place and Origin, a set of principles shared by 19 wine regions across the world aimed at educating consumers about the importance of location to winemaking. To learn more about this program visit Origins.wine.