Discussion

This page, updated 6/7,  outlines the community input on the draft proposal to implement a Conjunctive Labeling plan for Mendocino County.

The MWI Board is exploring the idea of a conjunctive labeling program to improve consumer identification and understanding of the region’s wines.  Conjunctive labeling, which has been adopted by nearly all of California's successful wine regions and many of the world's most notable regions, is the requirement that all wines produced in a region include on the label the name of the County (or region, or province) from which the grapes were grown.

At community input meetings  Mendocino county vintners and growers have asked MWI to address the following issues:                                           

  • Should the requirement be "Mendocino County"  or just "Mendocino"?  It was pointed out that Mendocino County might imply lax blending standards to sophisticated wine drinkers. As a result of this feedback the 6/4 draft proposal was modified to only require the word “Mendocino" for those wines made from grapes from within the Mendocino AVA, and "Mendocino County" for those wines not made from grapes within the Mendocino AVA.  MWI will work with the TTB for clarification on this issue.
  • The Mendocino Brand is too tightly connected with marijuana, especially with the younger generation. To explore this thought, MWI has found 2018 research sponsored by Visit Mendocino. Interestingly enough, this research shows that "WINE" is the word most commonly associated with Mendocino County. "WEED" is a secondary association with the target audience. Sadly, overall recognition of Mendocino was very low - which is why we need conjunctive labelling.
  • The timeline for the implementation of the requirements is too fast. The community should not be forced to make a quick decision, especially with harvest coming soon. MWI agrees with this point and the timeline for the process is being extended until June 1, 2019 to fully explore and develop a possible conjunctive labeling proposal.
  • Some felt that the MWI group did a poor job introducing this idea to the growers and vintners. MWI agrees with this criticism and is working hard to present the information in a comprehensive manner. Some also felt that the process was not open and inclusive. MWI reminds everyone that the exact purpose of the community meetings is to collect community input and build a consensus plan that reflects the input from the meetings. As a next step MWI will hold additional input meetings.
  • If the benefits of conjunctive labeling are so compelling, the program should be voluntary, not mandatory.  MWI is not aware of any research regarding voluntary conjunctive labeling programs. As a next step MWI will continue to search for any precedent of this type.
  • Changes to wine labels are time consuming and expensive.  MWI accepts this concern as a drawback of conjunctive labeling. The proposal has been revised to allow for front or back label inclusion, and MWI will continue to explore options to reduce the financial impact. Current ideas include delayed implementation dates, “grandfather clauses” so recently approved TTB COLA’s don’t have to be immediately resubmitted, and clarification from TTB  whether conjunctive labeling compliance will require new COLAs at all.
  • Without examples of compliant and noncompliant labels it is too hard to understand the full implications. MWI will seek to generate some examples to illustrate the requirements in the coming months.

The implementation process for the plan is not yet defined.  While MWI seeks a consensus view from the region, it is not yet decided what a “consensus” means. Future public meetings will address this question and its components (Will there be a vote? Who gets to vote? What kind of majority is needed?)




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