Definition - What does Viticultural Area mean?
By definition, a viticultural area is a geographic region that grows wine grapes that have specific characteristics that are specific to that region. In Europe, these regions are called appellations and in the United States they are known as AVAs (American Viticultural Areas). These grape-growing areas are located all across the world and denote a bottle or wine trait's physical location of origin and distinguishing features.
WineFrog explains Viticultural Area
The need for classification systems started in France during the 20th century when the high quality wine market was flooded with lower quality wine from other countries and regions. The French government started to distinguish these wines from each other based on the geographical area where the grapes were grown. They also used the regions’ climate and soil types then included regulation and classification of the types of grapes that were grown in each region. With all of these factors accounted for, a wine could then denote the appellation on its label and be authenticated accordingly.
This classification system became popular in other wine growing countries like Spain which calls viticultural areas Designation of Origin. In the United States and Canada, the AVA was adopted to similarly describe the winemaking regions in North America. With all classification systems, the wine can only claim a certain region when it contains 85% or more of the variety of that region in the bottle.