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Oregon changes strict wine laws

Published:  23 July, 2008

Oregon's Winegrowers Association (OWA) has claimed victory after petitioning its ruling body to relax its tough varietal laws.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has agreed to exempt 11 varieties from the 90% minimum requirement for varietal labelling, and can now be blended with up to 25% of other varieties.

They include Grenache, Marsanne, Sangiovese, Syrah and Zinfandel.

Previously only seven Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon could be written on the label if they made up 75% of the wine's volume.

The majority of Oregon wines - 54 varieties - will maintain the requirement that at least 90% of a wine's grapes must be derived from a single grape variety to be labelled a varietal.

Other changes to the law will allow producers to use both Pinot Gris and, now, Pinot Grigio. The minimum percentage of grapes that must be grown in an appellation to use that appellation on the label has been reduced from 100 to 95 per cent.