[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 38 (Monday, February 26, 2001)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 11540-11542]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-4646]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

27 CFR Part 9

[T.D. ATF-441; RE: Notice No. 898]
RIN: 1512-AA07


Realignment of the Boundary of the Walla Walla Valley 
Viticultural Area and the Eastern Boundary of the Columbia Valley 
Viticultural Area (99R-141P)

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

ACTION: Final rule, Treasury decision.

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SUMMARY: This final rule extends the boundary of the Walla Walla Valley 
viticultural area. This action is the result of petitions filed by 
growers and winemakers located within the existing area and in the new 
area being added. This final rule also extends the boundary of the 
Columbia Valley viticultural area so that it coincides with the 
boundary of Walla Walla Valley viticultural area.
    The establishment of viticultural areas and the subsequent use of 
viticultural area names as appellations of origin in wine labeling and 
advertising allow wineries to designate the specific areas where the 
grapes used to make the wine were grown and enable consumers to better 
identify the wines they purchase.

EFFECTIVE DATE: April 27, 2001.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa M. Gesser, Regulations Division, 
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., 
Washington, DC 20226 (202-927-9347).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On August 23, 1978, ATF published Treasury Decision ATF-53 (43 FR 
37672, 54624) revising regulations in 27 CFR part 4. These regulations 
allow the establishment of defined American viticultural areas. The 
regulations also allow the name of an approved viticultural area to be 
used as an appellation of origin in the labeling and advertising of 
wine.
    On October 2, 1979, ATF published Treasury Decision ATF-60 (44 FR 
56692) which added a new part 9 to 27 CFR, providing for the listing of 
approved American viticultural areas. Section 4.25a(e)(1), title 27, 
CFR, defines an American viticultural area as a delimited grape-growing 
region distinguishable by geographical features, the boundaries of 
which have been delineated in subpart C of part 9. Section 4.25a(e)(2) 
outlines the procedure for proposing an American viticultural area. Any 
interested person may petition ATF to establish a grape-growing region 
as a viticultural area. The petition should include:
    (a) Evidence that the name of the proposed viticultural area is 
locally and/or nationally known as referring to the area specified in 
the petition;
    (b) Historical or current evidence that the boundaries of the 
viticultural area are as specified in the petition;
    (c) Evidence relating to the geographical features (climate, soil, 
elevation, physical features, etc.) which distinguish the viticultural 
features of the proposed area from surrounding areas;
    (d) A description of the specific boundaries of the viticultural 
area, based on features which can be found on United States Geological 
Survey (U.S.G.S.) maps of the largest applicable scale; and
    (e) A copy of the appropriate U.S.G.S. map(s) with the boundaries 
prominently marked.

Original Designation of the Walla Walla Valley and Columbia Valley 
Viticultural Areas

    The Walla Walla Valley viticultural area was established by 
Treasury Decision (T.D.) ATF-165 on February 6, 1984 (49 FR 4374). The 
original petition, filed by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Growers 
Association, had requested designation of an area of approximately 
300,000 acres. At the time of the original petition, ATF had been 
concerned that the total area to be designated was very large in 
proportion to the area used for viticulture. ATF and the petitioner 
agreed to reduce the size of the proposed area to encompass only the 
locations where grapes were being commercially grown. As approved, the 
Walla Walla Valley viticultural area consisted of approximately 260,000 
acres, and had two wine producers and 60 acres of grapes. The area was 
within the counties of Walla Walla in Washington State and Umatilla in 
Oregon.
    Later, when the Columbia Valley viticultural area was designated 
(T.D. ATF-190, November 13, 1984, [49 FR 44895-44899]), the Walla Walla 
Valley viticultural area was thought to be entirely within the Columbia 
Valley viticultural area. In preparation for the current rulemaking, we 
reviewed the maps in question and discovered that there is an area 
approximately 3 miles long where the eastern boundary of the Walla 
Walla Valley viticultural area extends beyond the eastern boundary of 
the Columbia Valley viticultural area.

[[Page 11541]]

See our further discussion under ``Extension of the Columbia Valley 
viticultural area.''

Petitions for Extension of the Boundaries of Walla Walla Valley

    ATF received a petition from Mr. Gaynor S. Derby of Spring Valley 
Vineyards, requesting that the northern boundary of the existing Walla 
Walla Valley viticultural area be extended to add approximately 3500 
acres to the northeastern part of the approved area. Later, we received 
a petition from the Walla Walla Valley Winegrowers, a group 
representing 20 wineries and vineyards located within the existing area 
or within the area they propose to add. Mr. Norm McKibben of Pepper 
Bridge Winery submitted the petition on behalf of the group. The Walla 
Walla Valley Winegrowers petitioned to expand the Walla Walla Valley 
viticultural area to include all the area requested in the original 
petition and additional land to the north. The petitioners referred to 
the evidence submitted with the original petition to show geographic 
distinctiveness and name recognition. The petitioners also provided 
supplemental information. Mr. Derby, who petitioned for a smaller 
extension of the existing area, agreed to support the larger extension 
proposed by the Walla Walla Valley Winegrowers.

Extension of the Columbia Valley Viticultural Area

    This final rule also adjusts the boundary of the Columbia Valley 
viticultural area. In the original designation of the Columbia Valley 
viticultural area, ATF stated that the Walla Walla Valley viticultural 
area was entirely within the Columbia Valley viticultural area. As 
noted above, our recent review of the maps disclosed that there is a 
small area near Dixie, Washington, where the Walla Walla Valley 
viticultural area lies outside the boundaries of the Columbia Valley 
viticultural area. This overlap occurs in a place where the official 
boundary of the Columbia Valley moves from the 2000 foot contour line 
to a state highway. Therefore, we have amended the boundary so it 
follows the 2000 foot contour line for an additional 3 miles north, and 
then shifts to the state highway as before. This change extends the 
common boundary between the two viticultural areas and eliminates the 
area of overlap and any resulting confusion.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    In response to the petitions, ATF published a notice of proposed 
rulemaking, Notice No. 898, in the Federal Register on June 6, 2000 (65 
FR 35871), proposing to revise the boundary of the Walla Walla Valley 
viticultural area and the eastern boundary of the Columbia Valley 
viticultural area. The notice requested comments from all interested 
persons by August 7, 2000. ATF received no comments concerning these 
proposals.

Evidence of Name

    Based on historical materials supplied by petitioners in their 
original petition, there is substantial evidence indicating that the 
extension to the Walla Walla Valley viticultural area was locally and/
or nationally known as Walla Walla Valley:
    (a) The original petition stated that Walla Walla Valley ``has been 
known as such since the time of settlement in the 1850's, even prior to 
the creation of the states of Oregon and Washington.''
    (b) The Walla Walla Winegrowers noted the U.S.G.S. map of Walla 
Walla uses the name ``Walla Walla Valley'' to label an area that 
corresponds to the original viticultural area and places the name in a 
second location to the north of the original boundary, in the extended 
area being added.
    (c) Mr. Derby quoted Professor W. D. Lyman's History of Walla Walla 
County, published in 1901. Professor Lyman described the Walla Walla 
Valley as ``a large belt of agricultural land lying south of the Snake 
River and west of the Blue Mountains, extending across the Oregon Line 
on the south''--a description which fits the expanded area.

Evidence of Boundaries

    The boundary of the original Walla Walla Valley viticultural area 
was limited to existing grape-growing areas for administrative reasons. 
In response to the new petitions, we reconsidered the evidence 
submitted in support of the original boundaries. Evidence provided in 
the original petition and in the new petitions show that the revised 
Walla Walla Valley viticultural area is delineated by boundaries 
corresponding to the following natural features:
     On the southeast, by the point where the north and south 
branches of the Walla Walla River emerge from the mountainous Umatilla 
National Forest and join to form the Walla Walla River;
     On the north, by the drainage divide between the Walla 
Walla River and the Touchet River; and
     On the west, where the Walla Walla River empties into the 
Columbia River.

Distinguishing Features

    According to the original petitioners and the petitioners in the 
current rulemaking, the entire Walla Walla Valley shares 
characteristics of topography, soil composition and climate that set it 
apart from the surrounding area. The evidence in the original petition 
was presented as applying to the entire valley, and not just to the 
area that ATF originally proposed for designation as the Walla Walla 
Valley viticultural area. Therefore, we will summarize the material 
that was originally published for comment in ATF Notice No. 471 on June 
27, 1983 (48 FR 29541-29543), with the understanding that it applies 
equally to the extension of the Walla Walla Valley viticultural area. 
We will supplement this information with material supplied by the two 
petitions for extension.
    In his petition to extend the Walla Walla Valley viticultural area, 
Mr. Gaynor S. Derby quoted from an article titled ``Washington Wine and 
Dining'' published in the November 15, 1998, issue of Wine Spectator:

Washington state straddles one of the world's great geological 
divides: the Cascade Range. To the west of its summits, the maritime 
influence of the Pacific is supreme, and copious rains produce lush 
evergreen forests. * * *  To the east, the damp sea breezes are 
blocked, the air warms and vineyards flourish with water provided by 
the Columbia River. The result is a growing and dynamic wine region. 
* * *

Topography

    The original petition quoted the State of Washington's Geology and 
Groundwater Resources of the Walla Walla River Basin, Washington-
Oregon, published in 1965, to describe the topography of the area:
    ``In the Walla Walla River Basin, the main topographic unit is the 
valley plain, commonly called the Walla Walla Valley, which de[s]cends 
from about 1,500' at the foot of the mountain slopes to about 500' 
where the river cuts through the bedrock ridge near Divide. It lies 
astride the Oregon/Washington border.''
    Like the original approved area, the extension to the Walla Walla 
Valley viticultural area ranges from 250 to 600 meters (820 to 1,968 
feet) in elevation. It is drained by creeks that generally flow south 
and east into the Walla Walla River. North of the new boundary, the 
streams and creeks generally drain into the Touchet River, further to 
the north.

Soil

    The original petition stated that the soils of the valley ``are 
classified by the Soil Conservation Service as Soils of Bottom Lands 
and Low Terraces, Soils of Loessal Uplands, Soils of Loessal and

[[Page 11542]]

Basaltic Uplands and Soils of Loessal and Lake-Laid Terraces, basically 
all loess derived soils.'' Most of these soils are classed as I or II 
irrigated capability units by the Soil Conservation Service. By 
contrast, the soils west of the Touchet River and along the Snake and 
Columbia Rivers are classified as Class IV and VI. Soils to the east in 
the Blue Mountains are considered not suitable for cultivation. We note 
the areas chosen for soil contrast are outside the expansion to the 
area.

Climate

    As noted in the original petition, the climate of the Walla Walla 
Valley is distinctive because it has a growing season between 190 and 
220 days, the longest within the surrounding six counties. The original 
petition contrasted places within the Walla Walla Valley with places 
outside of the valley. The places chosen for contrast included Dayton, 
Prescott, and Eltopia, Washington, all to the north of the northern 
extension to the viticultural area.
    The Walla Walla Valley receives an average of 12.5 inches of 
precipitation a year, light in the summer, increasing and peaking in 
the winter. The Columbia Basin to the west and north receives less than 
10 inches of precipitation in a year, and the Blue Mountains to the 
east and southeast receive 25-45 inches. Again, the places chosen for 
contrast are outside the extension of the viticultural area.

Boundaries

    This final rule revises the boundary of the Columbia Valley 
viticultural area (described in Sec. 9.74) and revises the boundary of 
the Walla Walla viticultural area (described in Sec. 9.91).

U.S.G.S. Maps

    The Walla Walla Winegrowers provided appropriate U.S.G.S. maps with 
their proposed boundaries prominently marked.

Executive Order 12866

    It has been determined that this final rule is not a significant 
regulatory action as defined in Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, 
this final rule 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. 
Any benefit derived from the use of a viticultural area name is the 
result of the proprietor's own efforts and consumer acceptance of wines 
from a particular area. No new recordkeeping or reporting requirements 
are imposed. Accordingly, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3507) and its implementing regulations, 5 CFR part 1320, do not apply 
to this final rule because no requirement to collect information is 
imposed.

Drafting Information

    The principal author of this document is Lisa M. Gesser, 
Regulations Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 9

    Administrative practices and procedures, Consumer protection, 
Viticultural areas, and Wine.

Authority and Issuance

    Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, part 9, American 
Viticultural Areas, is amended as follows:

PART 9--AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREAS

    Paragraph 1. The authority citation for part 9 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 27 U.S.C. 205.

    Par. 2. Section 9.74 is amended by revising paragraphs (c)(43) and 
(c)(44) to read as follows:


Sec. 9.74  Columbia Valley.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (43) Then southwest following Washington Highway 126 and U.S. 
Highway 12 through Marengo, Dayton, and Waitsburg to a point where an 
unnamed light-duty road leaves Highway 12 in an easterly direction in 
Minnick Station, Washington;
    (44) Then east following the unnamed light-duty road for 
approximately 250 feet until it reaches the 2000' contour line;
* * * * *
    Par. 3. Section 9.91 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 9.91  Walla Walla Valley.

    (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this 
section is ``Walla Walla Valley.''
    (b) Approved maps. The appropriate maps for determining the 
boundaries of the Walla Walla Valley viticultural area are two U.S.G.S. 
maps, in the scale 1:100,000. They are entitled:
    (1) ``Walla Walla,'' Washington-Oregon, 1980
    (2) ``Pendleton,'' Oregon-Washington, 1983
    (c) Boundaries. The Walla Walla Valley viticultural area is located 
within Walla Walla County in Washington State and Umatilla County in 
Oregon. It is entirely within the Columbia Valley viticultural area. 
The boundaries are as follows:
    (1) The beginning point is on the Walla Walla quadrangle map, in 
T8N/37E, at the point where the 2,000 foot contour line intersects with 
an unnamed light duty road approximately 250 feet east of U.S. Highway 
12 in Minnick, Washington (on maps measured in metric units, this 
elevation is between the 600 and 650 meter contour lines),
    (2) Then the boundary goes northwest in a straight line for 7 
kilometers (km), until it intersects with a power line that runs 
between T8N and T9N,
    (3) Then the boundary follows the power line west for 8 km, where 
it diverges from the power line and goes west-southwest in a straight 
line for approximately 33 km to the intersection of 2 unnamed light 
duty roads in the area marked Ninemile Canyon in the southwest corner 
of T8N/R33E,
    (4) Then the boundary goes south-southwest in a straight line 
approximately 8 km, until it reaches U.S. Highway 12, about 2.5 km east 
of Reese, Washington,
    (5) Then the boundary goes south in a straight line for 
approximately 8 km, crossing the Washington-Oregon state line and 
moving onto the Pendleton U.S.G.S. map, where it meets the 450 m 
contour line in T6N/R32E, near an unnamed peak with an elevation of 461 
m,
    (6) Then the boundary follows the 450 m contour line in a generally 
southeasterly direction until it intersects Dry Creek in T4N/R35E,
    (7) Then the boundary goes southeast along Dry Creek (Oregon) until 
it reaches the 2000 foot contour line,
    (8) Then the boundary follows the 2000 foot contour line in a 
generally northeasterly direction, crossing the Oregon-Washington state 
line and returning to the Walla Walla U.S.G.S map, until it reaches the 
point of beginning.

    Signed: October 31, 2000.
Bradley A. Buckles,
Director .
    Approved: November 14, 2000.
Timothy E. Skud,
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Regulatory, Tariff and Trade 
Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 01-4646 Filed 2-23-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4810-31-P