[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 84 (Tuesday, May 1, 2001)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 21707-21709]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-10811]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

27 CFR Part 9

[Notice No. 916]
RIN 1512-AA07


Proposed Rockpile Viticultural Area (2000R-436P)

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has received 
a petition proposing the establishment of a viticultural area located 
in northwest Sonoma County, California. The proposed Rockpile 
viticultural area would consist of approximately 14,000 acres of land 
which the petitioner states is at or above the 800' elevation, includes 
areas of small rock and gravel mixed in the topsoil, some with 
outcroppings of larger rock, and growing conditions favorable for 
commercial wine grapes.

DATES: Written comments must be received by July 2, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: Chief, Regulations Division, 
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, P.O. Box 50221, Washington, DC 
20091-0221 (Attn: Notice No. 916). Copies of the petition, the proposed 
regulations, the appropriate maps, and any written comments received 
will be available for public inspection during normal business hours at 
the ATF Reading Room, Office of Public Affairs and Disclosure, Room 
6480, 650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20226. Submit e-
mail comments to: nprm@atfhq.atf.treas.gov. E-mail comments must 
contain your name, mailing address, and e-mail address. They must also 
reference this notice number and be legible when printed on not more 
than three pages 8\1/2\" x 11" in size. We will treat e-mail as 
originals and we will not acknowledge receipt of e-mail. See Public 
Participation section of this notice for alternative means of 
commenting.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: N.A. Sutton, Specialist, Regulations 
Division (San Francisco, CA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 
221 Main Street, 11th Floor, San Francisco, CA (415) 744-7011.

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 definitive viticultural areas. The 
regulations allow the name of an approved viticultural area to be used 
as an appellation of origin on wine labels and in wine advertisements. 
On October 2, 1979, ATF published Treasury Decision ATF-60 (44 FR 
56692) which added a new Part 9 to 27 CFR, for the listing of approved 
American viticultural areas, the names of which may be used as 
appellations of origin.
    27 CFR 4.25(e)(1) defines an American viticultural area as a 
delimited grape-growing region distinguishable by geographic 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 characteristics (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 (or copies) of the appropriate U.S.G.S. map(s) with the 
boundaries prominently marked.

Petition

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has received a 
petition proposing a new viticultural area to be

[[Page 21708]]

called Rockpile. The proposed viticultural area is located in northwest 
Sonoma County, California, and encompasses approximately 14,000 acres, 
of which 148 acres are planted to vineyards. This proposed area 
overlaps approximately 2,500 acres with the approved Dry Creek Valley 
viticultural area.

Evidence That the Name of the Area Is Locally or Nationally Known

    Initial reference to the Rockpile name dates to 1858 (The Sonoma 
Democrat newspaper, Santa Rosa, CA, 10/28/1882), and is based on 
cattle-raising at this ``Rock Pile Ranch'' location. According to the 
petitioner, in 1911 an investment partnership purchased about 21,000 
acres of property in this area, naming it La Roca Monte Rancho, Spanish 
for the Rocky Peak. The property soon became known by its English name 
of Rockpile Ranch.
    The Rockpile local name usage is noted on the current USGS Warm 
Springs Dam, Cloverdale and Big Foot Mountain Quadrangle maps, all 
parts of the petition. The most recent AAA Mendocino and Sonoma Coast 
Region map shows Rockpile Road within the proposed viticultural area.

Historical or Current Evidence That the Boundaries of the 
Viticultural Area Are as Specified in the Petition

    The boundaries are based on historical name usage and the 
combination of geographical features, predominantly elevation and rocky 
terrain.
    The historical name usage, according to the petitioner and as 
researched by historian Cathy Park, stems from a 1911 investment 
partnership that purchased land in the petitioned area. Acquisitions 
included the existing Rockpile Ranch, Rockpile Peak and surrounding 
areas. To manage this vast sheep-raising and hunting property, the area 
was eventually divided into Rockpile #1, Rockpile #2 and Rockpile #3 
ranches. During the Depression much of the property was sold, but 
18,000 acres of the Rockpile Ranch #3 area was preserved as a working 
sheep ranch. By the 1930's the area became locally known as Rockpile, 
and the winding road to the ranch headquarters was named Rockpile Road. 
USGS and AAA maps identify the area and road as Rockpile.
    The predominant geographic highlight is the 800' and above 
elevation of the entire petitioned area. This feature makes it higher 
than other grape-growing areas in the immediate proximity.

Evidence Relating to the Geographical Features (Climate, Soil, 
Elevation, Physical Features, etc.) Which Distinguish Viticultural 
Features of the Proposed Area From Surrounding Areas

    The petitioner has defined the proposed viticultural area based on 
a geographic combination of elevation, terrain and climate.
    The elevation of the Rockpile area, as shown on the USGS maps, 
spans from 800' to approximately 1900'. According to the petition, the 
east and north side boundaries are delineated by the 800' elevation, 
while the south and west boundaries average close to 1,800' in 
elevation. Currently, vineyards are established from 800' to 1,800' 
elevations, with approximately 95% of the planted area above the 1,000' 
elevation. This higher elevation provides different climatic 
influences.
    Spring daytime temperatures in the proposed area run five to ten 
degrees cooler than the Healdsburg area, approximately ten miles 
southeast, according to the petition. In the absence of a marine 
inversion layer, or fog, the temperature decreases about six degrees 
Fahrenheit for additional 1,000 feet of elevation. The cool prevailing 
northwesterly spring breezes, which are not as prevalent at the lower 
elevations of the protected valley floors, increase the cooling effect. 
According to the petition, the viticultural effect of this cooling 
creates a delayed bud break and slower growth, resulting in delayed 
bloom and fruit set.
    Summer weather in the Rockpile area, according to the petition, is 
slightly warmer than the area valleys due to less fog and more clear 
weather, resulting in increased sunshine and warmer temperatures. On 
days when the marine inversion is shallower than 1,000 feet, Rockpile 
is above the fog.
    Fall night temperatures, as stated in the petition, can be warmer 
than in the surrounding areas, with less fog at 800' and above than at 
lower elevations. The crucial grape ripening period of September and 
early October is generally warmer and drier in the Rockpile locality 
than in surrounding viticultural areas.
    The soils, according to the petition, differ from neighboring 
valley viticultural areas by the relative absence of silt and sand, the 
higher oxidized iron properties (red color), and the clay subsoil. The 
topsoil, generally loam to clay loam with a red to brown color, is 
twelve to twenty-four inches in depth in the better viticultural 
locations. There are areas of small rock and gravel mixed in the 
topsoil, some with outcroppings of larger rock. The topsoil depth, and 
amounts of clay, rock and organic matter vary within the area. The 
topsoil is acid to very acid, and the subsoil is more clay-like in 
texture; however, areas of weathered shale and sandstone, in addition 
to the topography, contribute to well-drained vineyard conditions.

Proposed Boundaries

    The proposed viticultural area is in northwest Sonoma County, 
California. The approved USGS maps for determining the boundary of the 
proposed Rockpile viticultural area are Warm Springs Dam Quadrangle, 
California--Sonoma Co., 7.5 Minute Series, edition of 1978; Cloverdale 
Quadrangle, California, 7.5 Minute Series, edition of 1975; Tombs Creek 
Quadrangle, California--Sonoma Co., 7.5 Minute Series, edition of 1978; 
and Big Foot Mountain Quadrangle, California, 7.5 Minute Series, 
edition of 1991.
    The area is of an irregular east-to-west rectangular shape, with 
Rockpile Road running through its length. The eastern portion starts at 
the western edge of the Lake Sonoma Recreational Area and Warm Springs 
Dam, and runs in a west-northwesterly direction. The western portion of 
the petitioned area encompasses Rockpile Peak and Rockpile Ranch #3.
    A portion of Rockpile's proposed eastside overlaps with the 
northwest corner of the Dry Creek Valley viticultural area. 
Approximately 2,500 acres, or 3% of the Dry Creek Valley viticultural 
area and 18% of the Rockpile area, is common territory. This 
overlapping area is flanked by the Dry Creek estuary to the north and 
Warm Springs Creek estuary to the south.

Public Participation--Written Comments

    ATF requests comments from all interested persons. Comments 
received on or before the closing date will be carefully considered. 
Comments received after that date will be given the same consideration 
if it is practical to do so. However, assurance of consideration can 
only be given to comments received on or before the closing date.
    ATF will not recognize any submitted material as confidential and 
comments may be disclosed to the public. Any material which the 
commenter considers to be confidential or inappropriate for disclosure 
to the public should not be included in the comments. The name of the 
person submitting a comment is not exempt from disclosure.

[[Page 21709]]

    Comments may be submitted by facsimile transmission to (202) 927-
8602, provided the comments: (1) are legible; (2) are 8\1/2\" x 11" in 
size, (3) contain a written signature, and (4) are three pages or less 
in length. This limitation is necessary to assure reasonable access to 
the equipment. Comments sent by FAX in excess of three pages will not 
be accepted. Receipt of FAX transmittals will not be acknowledged. 
Facsimile transmitted comments will be treated as originals.
    Any person who desires an opportunity to comment orally at a public 
hearing on the proposed regulation should submit his or her request, in 
writing, to the Director within the 60-day comment period. The 
Director, however, reserves the right to determine, in light of all 
circumstances, whether a public hearing will be held.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 
Chapter 35, and its implementing regulations, 5 CFR Part 1320, do not 
apply to this notice because no requirement to collect information is 
proposed.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    It is hereby certified that this proposed regulation will not have 
a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The 
establishment of a viticultural area is neither an endorsement nor 
approval by ATF of the quality of wine produced in the area, but rather 
an identification of an area that is distinct from surrounding areas. 
ATF believes that the establishment of viticultural areas merely allows 
wineries to more accurately describe the origin of their wines to 
consumers, and helps consumers identify the wines they purchase. Thus, 
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 that area.
    No new requirements are proposed. Accordingly, a regulatory 
flexibility anlysis is not required.

Executive Order 12866

    It has been determined that this proposed regulation is not a 
significant regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866. 
Accordingly, this proposal is not subject to the analysis required by 
this Executive Order.

Drafting Information

    The principal author of this document is N.A. Sutton, Regulations 
Division (San Francisco), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

List 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 proposed to be 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.

Subpart C--Approved American Viticultural Areas

    Par 2. Subpart C is amended by adding Section 9.173 to read as 
follows:


Sec. 9.173  Rockpile.

    (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this 
section is ``Rockpile.''
    (b) Approved map. The appropriate maps for determining the boundary 
of the Rockpile viticultural area are four 1:24,000 Scale USGS 
topography maps. They are titled:
    (1) Warm Springs Dam Quadrangle, CA--Sonoma Co. 1978
    (2) Cloverdale Quadrangle, CA 1975
    (3) Tombs Creek Quadrangle, CA--Sonoma Co. 1978
    (4) Big Foot Mountain Quadrangle, CA 1991
    (c) Boundary. The proposed viticultural area is located in 
northwest Sonoma County, California. The boundary encircles the 
Rockpile Ranch area, located west of Lake Sonoma. The point of 
beginning is the intersection of Rockpile Road and the boundary line 
between Section 14 and 15, Township 10 N, Range 11 W (Warm Springs Dam 
Quadrangle);
    (1) Then proceed north along the Sections 15 and 10 east boundary 
lines to the intersection of the 800' contour line, Township 10N, Range 
11W (Warm Springs Dam Quadrangle);
    (2) Then proceed west along the 800' contour line through Sections 
10, 9, 4, 5, 32 and into Section 31, Townships 10 and 11 N, Range 11 W 
(Warm Springs Dam and Cloverdale Quadrangles);
    (3) Then proceed west along the 800' contour line in Section 31, 
following the line as it reverses to the east direction, Township 11 N, 
Range 11 W (Big Foot Mountain Quadrangle);
    (4) Then proceed along the 800' contour line east through Sections 
31, 32 and 33, and northwest through Sections 33, 32, 29 and 30, 
Township 11 N, Range 11 W (Cloverdale Quadrangle);
    (5) Then proceed west along the 800' contour line through Sections 
30, 25, 24, 23, 14, 15, 22, 21, 20 to the intersection with the east 
boundary line of Section 19, Township 11 N, Range 12 W (Big Foot 
Mountain Quadrangle);
    (6) Then proceed south along the east boundary line of Sections 19, 
30 and 31 to the intersection with the Township 11 N and 10 N boundary 
line, Township 11 N, Range 12 W (Big Foot Mountain Quadrangle);
    (7) Then proceed east along the Township 10 and 11 N boundary line 
to the intersection with the Sections 2 and 1 boundary line, Township 
10 and 11 N, Range 12 W (Big Foot Mountain Quadrangle);
    (8) Then proceed south along the Section 1 west boundary line, 
turning east at the southwest corner of Section 1 and continuing east 
to Section 6, Township 10 N, Range 12 W (Big Foot Mountain and Tombs 
Creek Quadrangles);
    (9) Then proceed east along the south boundary of Section 6 to the 
intersection with Section 8, Township 10 N, Range 11 W (Tombs Creek and 
Warm Springs Dam Quadrangles);
    (10) Then proceed south along the west boundary of Section 8, 
turning east at its southwest corner and continuing east to the 
intersection with the 876' market, Township 10 N, Range 11 W (Warm 
Springs Dam Quadrangle);
    (11) Then proceed straight south in Section 16 to the intersection 
with the 800' contour line Township 10 N, Range 11 W (Warm Springs Dam 
Quadrangle);
    (12) Then follow the 800' contour line as it meanders west, 
southeast, southwest and east to its intersection with Section 14, and 
continues north along the west boundary line of Section 14, returning 
to the point of beginning at Rockpile Road and the Section 14 west 
boundary line, Township 10 N, Range 11 W (Warm Springs Dam Quadrangle).

    Signed: April 13, 2001.
Bradley A. Buckles,
Director.
[FR Doc. 01-10811 Filed 4-30-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4810-31-M