In the U.S., we have a system of appellation of origin, but the only thing guaranteed is that at least 85% of the grapes originated within the identified AVA. There are no restrictions on yield or cultivar usage. A producer can plant any cultivar they deem worthy and label them with an AVA. Sure, certain regions can be known for specific varieties, but just because you see Napa Valley on a label does not mean it is Cabernet Sauvignon. As surprising as it is, varieties such as Charbono, Ribolla Gialla and Verdelho are produced in Napa. This lack of required grapes makes it hard for many regions to have a specific identity. Emergent regions like Colorado, Idaho and Virginia can struggle with this. Even established premium regions can have something of an identity crisis. West of Napa over the Mayacamas Mountains is Sonoma. There are a handful of AVAs in Sonoma County, and one of the best known is probably the Russian River Valley. I'd wager if you ask ten random wine consumers what type of wine is produced there, eight would say Pinot Noir and two would say Chardonnay. Maybe one smarty-pants would mention Zinfandel. However, I'm pretty sure no one would come up with Syrah.
|Scherrer 2007 'Sasha' Syrah|