Gallo-backed Russian River Valley Expansion is Approved

Gallo-backed Russian River Valley Expansion is Approved

After a long battle, federal regulators approved the controversial decision to expand the notable Russian River Valley appellation south to Cotati—an addition opposed by RRV Winegrowers.

The expansion, sought by E&J Gallo who owns 350 acres of vineyards along Highway 101 on the Cotati Grade, was opposed by the regional trade group who believe the dissimilar weather conditions and later harvest dates of the area make it unworthy of the prestigious RRV inclusion.

The change, announced by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau last week, adds more than 14,000 acres to the appellation’s current 155,000 acres.

“I guess the experts hired by the Gallo people had a lot more credibility [than the opponents],” said Rod Berglund, winemaker at Joseph Swan Vineyards. He predicts the expansion “will give renewed emphasis to define the smaller regions of the valley, what we call the neighborhoods.” This includes Laguna Ridge and the Middle Reach, which some propose be formalized as AVAs.

Gallo did not reply to a request to comment for this article, however, Gallo spokeswoman Susan Hensley said in a statement, “The expansion petition had broad support from local farmers, winery owners, consumers and agricultural organizations.”

Published on November 21, 2011