Definition - What does Appellation mean?

An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication found on the wine label. It indicates the wine’s origin and, to some extent, the quality. They are found in almost every wine growing region in the world. Though many other food products, such as cheese and tea, also have appellations, wine is the most common product associated with appellations.

Appellations vary in size; they can encompass a whole country or a plot of land the size of a football field. The distinction is decided based on geography and varietal; some appellations also restrict maximum yield, alcohol level and quality factors. Overall, these designations are used to protect the producers and the consumers.

WineFrog explains Appellation

Almost every wine growing country in the world has its own designation system. The governing body of a country is responsible for enforcing each appellation system, which means that each system will vary, however minutely.

Appellations can be divided into two types: European and everywhere else. The European appellations were created to protect the producers. They regulate the quality, grape types, region and, to an extent, how a wine is grown, harvested and produced. The rest of the world’s appellations were created to protect the consumer. These ensure that the label correctly indicate the origins of the wine itself to an accurate degree.

These labelling systems mean that experienced wine connoisseurs are able to tell if a wine is worth the investment based on the label. Modest wines usually have generic origin labels - France, California, Ontario - whereas better quality wines will have more specific origin labels - Chablis AOC, Stags Leap District AVA, Prince Edward County VQA.

Examples of Appellations Systems Around the World:

  • Austria - Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC)
  • Australia - Australian Geographical Indications (AGI)
  • Canada - Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA)
  • Chile - Denominación de Origen (DO)
  • Cyprus - Protected designation of origin (O.E.O.?)
  • European Union - Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
  • France - Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC or AC)
  • Germany - German Wine Classification (QbA)
  • Greece - Onomasia Proelefsis Anoteras Poiotitos (OPAP)
  • Italy - Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT)
  • Luxembourg - Appellation Contrôlée (AC)
  • Portugal - Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC)
  • Romania - Denumire de Origine Controlata (DOC)
  • South Africa - Wine of Origin
  • Spain - Denominación de Origen (DO)
  • United Kingdom - Quality Wine Scheme
  • United States - American Viticultural Area (AVA)
Note that some countries have more than one appellation designation.
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