Three Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley were awarded coveted spots on the Wine Spectator Top 100 List. The variables used to create this hierarchy include, “quality, value, availability, and excitement.” 13,500 wines were reviewed by the magazine this year.
Several new sub-AVAs will soon be proposed within the large Paso Robles wine region. But as AVAs get more and more specific, there is a real risk that all of the new names will be unrecognizable to consumers.
Geographical distinctions have always helped to sell wine, and the American Viticultural Area, or AVA system, is a useful marketing tool for wineries. As AVAs get more and more specific in California, the biggest question is whether or not the average wine consumer will see these smaller regions as meaningful.
The Paso Robles AVA has built a very strong geographical brand in recent years. But because the region is so large, and its climate and terrain so varied, several applications for sub-AVAs are in the works. While I completely agree that these new sub-AVAs are justified based on their unique characteristics, I question whether or not this is a good move from a branding point of view.