Establishment of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands Viticultural Area, 54779-54782 [2019-22265]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 198 / Friday, October 11, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 23. Amend § 1206.804 by revising paragraphs (b) and (c) to read as follows: ■ § 1206.804 NASA Centers and Components. * * * * * (b) This delegated authority has further been delegated to the FOIA Officers who are designated to work at NASA Centers and supervised by the Director of Public Affairs or Head of the Public Affairs Office for that Center. If a FOIA Officer working at a particular NASA Center vacates the position, the Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications will designate a new FOIA Officer, supervised by the Principal Chief FOIA Officer, to process FOIA requests for that particular Center. (c) When denying records in whole or in part, the FOIA Officer designated to process records for the Center will consult with the Chief Counsel or the Counsel charged with providing legal advice to that FOIA office before releasing an initial determination under § 1206.307. Background on Viticultural Areas Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury. ACTION: Final rule; Treasury decision. TTB Authority Section 105(e) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), 27 U.S.C. 205(e), authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe regulations for the labeling of wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages. The FAA Act provides that these regulations should, among other things, prohibit consumer deception and the use of misleading statements on labels and ensure that labels provide the consumer with adequate information as to the identity and quality of the product. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) administers the FAA Act pursuant to section 1111(d) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, codified at 6 U.S.C. 531(d). The Secretary has delegated various authorities through Treasury Order 120– 01, dated December 10, 2013 (superseding Treasury Order 120–01, dated January 24, 2003), to the TTB Administrator to perform the functions and duties in the administration and enforcement of these laws. Part 4 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 4) authorizes the establishment of definitive viticultural areas and regulate the use of their names as appellations of origin on wine labels and in wine advertisements. Part 9 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 9) sets forth standards for the preparation and submission of petitions for the establishment or modification of American viticultural areas (AVAs) and lists the approved AVAs. SUMMARY: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) establishes the approximately 1,246 square-mile ‘‘Eastern Connecticut Highlands’’ viticultural area in all or portions of Hartford, New Haven, Tolland, Windham, New London, and Middlesex Counties in Connecticut. The Eastern Connecticut Highlands viticultural area is not located within any other established viticultural area and does not overlap any other established AVA. Definition Section 4.25(e)(1)(i) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(1)(i)) defines a viticultural area for American wine as a delimited grape-growing region having distinguishing features, as described in part 9 of the regulations, and a name and a delineated boundary, as established in part 9 of the regulations. These designations allow vintners and consumers to attribute a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of a § 1206.805 [Amended] 24. Amend § 1206.805 by adding a comma after the second occurrence of the word ‘‘General’’ in paragraph (a). ■ Cheryl E. Parker, Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. 2019–21710 Filed 10–10–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau 27 CFR Part 9 [Docket No. TTB–2018–0010; T.D. TTB–157; Ref: Notice No. 179] RIN 1513–AC41 Establishment of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands Viticultural Area AGENCY: jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines they may purchase. DATES: This final rule is effective November 12, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate M. Bresnahan, Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW, Box 12, Washington, DC 20005; phone 202– 453–1039, ext. 151. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Oct 10, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 54779 wine made from grapes grown in an area to the wine’s geographic origin. The establishment of AVAs allows vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wines to consumers and helps consumers to identify wines they may purchase. Establishment of an AVA is neither an approval nor an endorsement by TTB of the wine produced in that area. Requirements Section 4.25(e)(2) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(2)) outlines the procedure for proposing an AVA and provides that any interested party may petition TTB to establish a grapegrowing region as an AVA. Section 9.12 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 9.12) prescribes standards for petitions for the establishment or modification of AVAs. Petitions to establish an AVA must include the following: • Evidence that the area within the proposed AVA boundary is nationally or locally known by the AVA name specified in the petition; • An explanation of the basis for defining the boundary of the proposed AVA; • A narrative description of the features of the proposed AVA affecting viticulture, such as climate, geology, soils, physical features, and elevation, that make the proposed AVA distinctive and distinguish it from adjacent areas outside the proposed AVA boundary; • The appropriate United States Geological Survey (USGS) map(s) showing the location of the proposed AVA, with the boundary of the proposed AVA clearly drawn thereon; and • A detailed narrative description of the proposed AVA boundary based on USGS map markings. Eastern Connecticut Highlands Petition TTB received a petition from Steven Vollweiler, president of Sharpe Hill Vineyard, proposing the establishment of the ‘‘Eastern Connecticut Highlands’’ AVA in all or portions of Hartford, New Haven, Tolland, Windham, New London, and Middlesex Counties in Connecticut. The proposed Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA covers approximately 1,246 square-miles and is not located within nor overlaps any other AVA. There are 16 commerciallyproducing vineyards covering a total of approximately 114.75 acres within the proposed AVA, as well as 6 bonded wineries. According to the petition, an additional 20.5 acres of commercial vineyards are planned for planting in the next few years. According to the petition, the distinguishing features of E:\FR\FM\11OCR1.SGM 11OCR1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES 54780 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 198 / Friday, October 11, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the proposed AVA are its geology, topography, soils, and climate. The petition states that the proposed Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA is underlain by Paleozoic formation called Iapetus Terrane, which is comprised mostly of metamorphic rocks that are difficult to erode, resulting in the hills and mountains that characterize the proposed AVA. To the west of the proposed AVA, the Central Valley is comprised of younger, more easily eroded sandstone, shale, and basalt lava flows that have a significantly different chemical composition than that of the proposed AVA. The regions to the east and south of the proposed AVA are part of the Avalonia Terrane, which consists of older, Pre-Cambrian rocks. According to the petition, the proposed Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA is characterized by hilly-to-mountainous terrain, with elevations ranging from 200 to 1,000 feet in elevation. The eastern and western edges of the proposed AVA are characterized by sharp ridgelines and high elevations, while the central portion of the proposed AVA is comprised of rounded hills. By contrast, the region to the west of the proposed AVA is a broad, flat valley with low elevations. The coastal region to the south of the proposed AVA also contains generally lower elevations than those within the proposed AVA. The terrain of the proposed AVA extends north into Massachusetts and east into Rhode Island, however, the elevations differ in those locations. The petition adds that the topography of the proposed AVA affects viticulture because topography affects climate. Regions with higher elevations, such as the proposed AVA, generally have a colder climate than regions with lower elevations, such as the region to the west of the proposed AVA. Additionally, regions that are closer to the coast, such as the region to the south of the proposed AVA and the lower elevations of region to the east, are more significantly affected by maritime climate than higher inland regions like the proposed AVA. The petition states that the soils in the proposed AVA developed on lodgement till, which is material deposited by glaciers as they move across the landscape. The soils are thick sandy-tosilty loams and range from well to poorly drained. In contrast, the region to the south of the proposed AVA contains only a small amount of lodgement till. The regions to the south and west of the proposed AVA formed on ablation till, which is material deposited as a stagnant or slow-moving glacier melts. The petition also provided information VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Oct 10, 2019 Jkt 250001 on the concentrations of seven elements found in the soils of the proposed AVA and the regions to the east, south, and west that play vital roles in vine nutrition: Calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, sulfur, and zinc. When compared to the soils in the region to the west of the proposed AVA, the proposed AVA has higher levels of calcium, iron, magnesium, and sulfur, and lower levels of potassium, phosphorous, and zinc. Compared to the soils to the east and south, the proposed AVA has similar levels of calcium, phosphorous, and sulfur, higher levels of iron, magnesium, and zinc, and lower levels of potassium. The petition also shows these element levels give soil in the proposed AVA conditions that provide for grapevine growth, as well as prevent chlorosis in the vines. The petition included information of the average annual temperatures, growing degree days (GDD),1 coldest recorded temperature, average date of the latest spring frost, and average date of the earliest fall frost for the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA and the surrounding regions. The data was collected from 1996 to 2015. While the proposed AVA has average annual temperatures that are generally similar to the surrounding regions, the data shows more pronounced differences in other climate measurements. The proposed AVA has significantly higher GDD accumulations than the region to its north, indicating warmer growing season temperatures. The proposed AVA also has a shorter growing season than most of the areas to the north, as indicated by a later last-spring-frost date and earlier first-fall-frost date for the proposed AVA. The proposed AVA has lower GDD accumulations and a shorter growing season than the regions to the south and east. Finally, the proposed AVA has lower GDD accumulations and a shorter growing season than the region to its west. features for the proposed AVA. The notice also compared the distinguishing features of the proposed AVA to the surrounding areas. For a detailed description of the evidence relating to the name, boundary, and distinguishing features of the proposed AVA, and for a detailed comparison of the distinguishing features of the proposed AVA to the surrounding areas, see Notice No. 179. In Notice No. 179, TTB solicited comments on the accuracy of the name, boundary, and other required information submitted in support of the petition. The comment period closed on February 11, 2019. In response to Notice No. 179, TTB received one comment from a member of the public. The commenter supported the establishment of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands viticultural area due to the climate and soil differences between the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA and in the regions surrounding it. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Comments Received TTB published Notice No. 179 in the Federal Register on December 13, 2018 (83 FR 64,047), proposing to establish the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA. In the notice, TTB summarized the evidence from the petition regarding the name, boundary, and distinguishing Maps The petitioner provided the required maps, and they are listed below in the regulatory text. 1 See Albert J. Winkler et al., General Viticulture 61–64 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2nd ed. 1974). In the Winkler climate classification system, annual heat accumulation during the growing season, measured in annual growing degree days (GDD), defines climatic regions. One GDD accumulates for each degree Fahrenheit that a day’s mean temperature is above 50 degrees, the minimum temperature required for grapevine growth. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 TTB Determination After careful review of the petition and the comment received in response to Notice No. 179, TTB finds that the evidence provided by the petitioner supports the establishment of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA. Accordingly, under the authority of the FAA Act, section 1111(d) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and parts 4 and 9 of the TTB regulations, TTB establishes the ‘‘Eastern Connecticut Highlands’’ AVA in all or portions of Hartford, New Haven, Tolland, Windham, New London, and Middlesex Counties in Connecticut, effective 30 days from the publication date of this document. Boundary Description See the narrative description of the boundary of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA in the regulatory text published at the end of this final rule. Impact on Current Wine Labels Part 4 of the TTB regulations prohibits any label reference on a wine that indicates or implies an origin other than the wine’s true place of origin. For a wine to be labeled with an AVA name or with a brand name that includes an AVA name, at least 85 percent of the wine must be derived from grapes grown within the area represented by that name, and the wine must meet the other conditions listed in 27 CFR 4.25(e)(3). If the wine is not eligible for E:\FR\FM\11OCR1.SGM 11OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 198 / Friday, October 11, 2019 / Rules and Regulations labeling with an AVA name and that name appears in the brand name, then the label is not in compliance and the bottler must change the brand name and obtain approval of a new label. Similarly, if the AVA name appears in another reference on the label in a misleading manner, the bottler would have to obtain approval of a new label. Different rules apply if a wine has a brand name containing an AVA name that was used as a brand name on a label approved before July 7, 1986. See 27 CFR 4.39(i)(2) for details. With the establishment of this AVA, its name, ‘‘Eastern Connecticut Highlands,’’ will be recognized as a name of viticultural significance under § 4.39(i)(3) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.39(i)(3)). The text of the regulation clarifies this point. Consequently, wine bottlers using the name ‘‘Eastern Connecticut Highlands’’ in a brand name, including a trademark, or in another label reference as to the origin of the wine, will have to ensure that the product is eligible to use the AVA name as an appellation of origin. The establishment of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA will not affect any existing AVA. The establishment of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA will allow vintners to use ‘‘Eastern Connecticut Highlands’’ as an appellation of origin for wines made primarily from grapes grown within the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA if the wines meet the eligibility requirements for the appellation. Regulatory Flexibility Act TTB certifies that this regulation will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The regulation imposes no new reporting, recordkeeping, or other administrative requirement. Any benefit derived from the use of an AVA name would be the result of a proprietor’s efforts and consumer acceptance of wines from that area. Therefore, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES Executive Order 12866 It has been determined that this final rule is not a significant regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993. Therefore, no regulatory assessment is required. Drafting Information Kate M. Bresnahan of the Regulations and Rulings Division drafted this final rule. List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 9 Wine. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Oct 10, 2019 Jkt 250001 The Regulatory Amendment For the reasons discussed in the preamble, TTB amends title 27, chapter I, part 9, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows: PART 9—AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREAS 1. The authority citation for part 9 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 27 U.S.C. 205. Subpart C—Approved American Viticultural Areas 2. Subpart C is amended by adding § 9.267 to read as follows: ■ § 9.267 Eastern Connecticut Highlands. (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this section is ‘‘Eastern Connecticut Highlands’’. For purposes of part 4 of this chapter, ‘‘Eastern Connecticut Highlands’’ is a term of viticultural significance. (b) Approved maps. The one United States Geological Survey (USGS) 1:125,000 scale topographic map used to determine the boundary of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands viticultural area is titled ‘‘State of Connecticut.’’ (c) Boundary. The Eastern Connecticut Highlands viticultural area is located in Hartford, New Haven, Tolland, Windham, New London, and Middlesex Counties in Connecticut. The boundary of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands viticultural area is as described below: (1) The beginning point is on the State of Connecticut map at the intersection of State Highway 83 and the Massachusetts-Connecticut State line in Somers. From the beginning point, proceed east along the MassachusettsConnecticut State line approximately 33 miles to the intersection of the shared State line and an unnamed road, known locally as Bonnette Avenue, in Thompson; then (2) Proceed southeast along Bonnette Avenue approximately 0.38 mile to its intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Sand Dam Road; then (3) Proceed southeast along Sand Dam Road approximately 1.5 miles to its intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Thompson Road; then (4) Proceed south along Thompson Road approximately 1,000 feet to its intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Quaddick Town Farm Road; then (5) Proceed east then south along Quaddick Town Farm Road approximately 5.5 miles into the town of Putnam, where the road becomes known as East Putnam Road, and PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 54781 continuing south along East Putnam Road approximately 1 mile to its intersection with U.S. Highway 44; then (6) Proceed west along U.S. Highway 44 approximately 1 mile to its intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Tucker Hill Road; then (7) Proceed south along Tucker Hill Road approximately 0.38 mile to its intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Five Mile River Road; then (8) Proceed southwest then west along Five Mile River Road 1.75 miles to its intersection with State Highway 21; then (9) Proceed south along State Highway 21 approximately 2 miles to its intersection with State Highway 12; then (10) Proceed south along State Highway 12 approximately 1 mile to its intersection with Five Mile River; then (11) Proceed west along Five Mile River approximately 0.13 mile to its intersection with the highway marked on the map State Highway 52 (also known as Interstate 395); then (12) Proceed south along State Highway 52/Interstate 395 approximately 14.5 miles to its intersection with State Highway 201; then (13) Proceed southeast along State Highway 201 approximately 5.25 miles to its intersection with State Highway 165; then (14) Proceed southwest along State Highway 165 approximately 10 miles to its intersection with State Highway 2; then (15) Proceed west along State Highway 2 approximately 1 mile to its intersection with State Highway 82; then (16) Proceed southwest, then northwest, then southwest along State Highway 82 approximately 27.72 miles to its intersection with State Highway 9; then (17) Proceed southeast along State Highway 9 approximately 3.7 miles to its intersection with State Highway 80; then (18) Proceed west along State Highway 80 approximately 15.7 miles to its intersection with State Highway 77; then (19) Proceed north along State Highway 77 approximately 8.3 miles to its intersection with State Highway 17; then (20) Proceed northeast along State Highway 17 approximately 6.8 miles to the point where it becomes concurrent with State Highway 9; then (21) Proceed north along concurrent State Highway 17–State Highway 9 approximately 0.75 mile the point E:\FR\FM\11OCR1.SGM 11OCR1 54782 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 198 / Friday, October 11, 2019 / Rules and Regulations where State Highway 17 departs from State Highway 9; then (22) Proceed east along State Highway 17 approximately 0.25 mile, crossing over the Connecticut River, to the highway’s intersection with State Highway 17A; then (23) Proceed north along State Highway 17A approximately 3 miles to its intersection with State Highway 17; then (24) Proceed north along State Highway 17 approximately 8 miles to its intersection with State Highway 94; then (25) Proceed east along State Highway 94 approximately 4 miles to its intersection with State Highway 83; then (26) Proceed north along State Highway 83 approximately 25 miles, returning to the beginning point. the Federal Register while the Commission considers appropriate action with respect to its simplified proceedings rule. ADDRESSES: Written comments should be mailed to Michael A. McCord, General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 520N, Washington, DC 20004–1710. Electronic comments should state ‘‘Comments on Simplified Proceedings’’ in the subject line and be sent to RulesComments@ fmshrc.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Stewart, Deputy General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, at (202) 434–9935. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Signed: July 9, 2019. Mary G. Ryan, Acting Administrator. A. Background On December 28, 2010 (75 FR 81459), the Commission published in the Federal Register a final rule to simplify the procedures for handling certain civil penalty proceedings. The Commission explained that since 2006, the number of new cases filed with the Commission had dramatically increased. The simplified procedures were intended to help the Commission manage its burgeoning caseload by streamlining the administrative process for the Commission’s simplest cases. The Commission implemented the rule as a pilot program. In evaluating the efficacy of the pilot, the Commission determined that the simplified proceedings rule has not operated as intended. The Commission had anticipated that streamlined procedures would better support settlement. For instance, discovery is not permitted under the simplified proceedings rule, except as ordered by a Judge. 29 CFR 2700.107. Rather, the simplified procedures require a mandatory disclosure of information by parties (29 CFR 2700.105), followed by a mandatory pre-hearing conference that requires in part a discussion of settlement of the case. 29 CFR 2700.106. It appears, however, that simplified proceedings settle at essentially the same rate as other civil penalty proceedings governed by conventional procedures. Moreover, the Commission determined that the compressed timeframes set forth in the simplified proceedings rule had unintended negative consequences. The simplified proceedings rule sets forth timeframes that are more abbreviated than those set forth in conventional proceedings for such matters as the disclosure of Approved: September 23, 2019. Timothy E. Skud, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax, Trade, and Tariff Policy). [FR Doc. 2019–22265 Filed 10–10–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810–31–P FEDERAL MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH REVIEW COMMISSION 29 CFR Part 2700 Simplified Proceedings Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. ACTION: Direct final rule. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (the ‘‘Commission’’) is an independent adjudicatory agency that provides hearings and appellate review of cases arising under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. On December 28, 2010, the Commission published a final rule which set forth procedures for simplified proceedings. The Commission implemented the simplified proceedings rule as a pilot program. After evaluating the pilot program, the Commission has determined that withdrawal of the simplified proceedings rule is necessary at this time. DATES: This final rule is effective November 25, 2019 without further action, unless adverse comment is received by November 12, 2019. If adverse comment is received, the Commission will publish a timely withdrawal of this direct final rule in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Oct 10, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 information by the parties, the conducting of a pre-hearing conference, and the conducting of a hearing. As a consequence of meeting these requirements, the Commission’s simplest cases, which were designated as simplified proceedings, were often given priority over more complex cases, which were not designated as simplified proceedings. In addition, the Commission’s resources were disproportionately diverted to its simplest cases. Based upon its evaluation of the simplified proceedings pilot program, the Commission has reconsidered the utility of a special set of procedures for its simplest cases at the present time. The Commission’s overall caseload has significantly decreased since the simplified proceedings rule was promulgated. Moreover, parties may request on a case-by-case basis that the Commission adapt the Commission’s conventional procedures as necessary to expedite or simplify the processing of a case. B. Notice and Public Procedure 1. Executive Orders The Commission is an independent regulatory agency under section 3(b) of Executive Order (‘‘E.O.’’) 12866 (Sept. 30, 1993), 58 FR 51735 (Oct. 4, 1993); E.O. 13563 (Jan. 18, 2011), 76 FR 3821 (Jan. 21, 2011); E.O. 13771 (Jan. 30, 2017), 82 FR 9339 (Feb. 3, 2017); E.O. 13777 (Feb. 24, 2017), 82 FR 12285 (Mar. 1, 2017); and E.O. 13132 (Aug. 4, 1999), 64 FR 43255 (Aug. 10, 1999). The Commission has determined that this rulemaking does not have ‘‘takings implications’’ under E.O. 12630 (Mar. 15, 1988), 53 FR 8859 (Mar. 18, 1988). The Commission has determined that these regulations meet all applicable standards set forth in E.O. 12988 (Feb. 5, 1996), 61 FR 4729 (Feb. 7, 1996). 2. Statutory Requirements Although notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act (‘‘APA’’) do not apply to rules of agency procedure (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(A)), the Commission invites members of the interested public to submit comments on this final rule. The Commission will accept public comment until November 12, 2019. The Commission has determined that this rulemaking is exempt from the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (‘‘RFA’’) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), because the proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. E:\FR\FM\11OCR1.SGM 11OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 198 (Friday, October 11, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 54779-54782]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-22265]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

27 CFR Part 9

[Docket No. TTB-2018-0010; T.D. TTB-157; Ref: Notice No. 179]
RIN 1513-AC41


Establishment of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands Viticultural 
Area

AGENCY: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury.

ACTION: Final rule; Treasury decision.

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SUMMARY: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) establishes 
the approximately 1,246 square-mile ``Eastern Connecticut Highlands'' 
viticultural area in all or portions of Hartford, New Haven, Tolland, 
Windham, New London, and Middlesex Counties in Connecticut. The Eastern 
Connecticut Highlands viticultural area is not located within any other 
established viticultural area and does not overlap any other 
established AVA. TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners to 
better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to 
better identify wines they may purchase.

DATES: This final rule is effective November 12, 2019.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate M. Bresnahan, Regulations and 
Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G 
Street NW, Box 12, Washington, DC 20005; phone 202-453-1039, ext. 151.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background on Viticultural Areas

TTB Authority

    Section 105(e) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), 
27 U.S.C. 205(e), authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe 
regulations for the labeling of wine, distilled spirits, and malt 
beverages. The FAA Act provides that these regulations should, among 
other things, prohibit consumer deception and the use of misleading 
statements on labels and ensure that labels provide the consumer with 
adequate information as to the identity and quality of the product. The 
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) administers the FAA Act 
pursuant to section 1111(d) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, 
codified at 6 U.S.C. 531(d). The Secretary has delegated various 
authorities through Treasury Order 120-01, dated December 10, 2013 
(superseding Treasury Order 120-01, dated January 24, 2003), to the TTB 
Administrator to perform the functions and duties in the administration 
and enforcement of these laws.
    Part 4 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 4) authorizes the 
establishment of definitive viticultural areas and regulate the use of 
their names as appellations of origin on wine labels and in wine 
advertisements. Part 9 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 9) sets 
forth standards for the preparation and submission of petitions for the 
establishment or modification of American viticultural areas (AVAs) and 
lists the approved AVAs.

Definition

    Section 4.25(e)(1)(i) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(1)(i)) 
defines a viticultural area for American wine as a delimited grape-
growing region having distinguishing features, as described in part 9 
of the regulations, and a name and a delineated boundary, as 
established in part 9 of the regulations. These designations allow 
vintners and consumers to attribute a given quality, reputation, or 
other characteristic of a wine made from grapes grown in an area to the 
wine's geographic origin. The establishment of AVAs allows vintners to 
describe more accurately the origin of their wines to consumers and 
helps consumers to identify wines they may purchase. Establishment of 
an AVA is neither an approval nor an endorsement by TTB of the wine 
produced in that area.

Requirements

    Section 4.25(e)(2) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(2)) 
outlines the procedure for proposing an AVA and provides that any 
interested party may petition TTB to establish a grape-growing region 
as an AVA. Section 9.12 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 9.12) prescribes 
standards for petitions for the establishment or modification of AVAs. 
Petitions to establish an AVA must include the following:
     Evidence that the area within the proposed AVA boundary is 
nationally or locally known by the AVA name specified in the petition;
     An explanation of the basis for defining the boundary of 
the proposed AVA;
     A narrative description of the features of the proposed 
AVA affecting viticulture, such as climate, geology, soils, physical 
features, and elevation, that make the proposed AVA distinctive and 
distinguish it from adjacent areas outside the proposed AVA boundary;
     The appropriate United States Geological Survey (USGS) 
map(s) showing the location of the proposed AVA, with the boundary of 
the proposed AVA clearly drawn thereon; and
     A detailed narrative description of the proposed AVA 
boundary based on USGS map markings.

Eastern Connecticut Highlands Petition

    TTB received a petition from Steven Vollweiler, president of Sharpe 
Hill Vineyard, proposing the establishment of the ``Eastern Connecticut 
Highlands'' AVA in all or portions of Hartford, New Haven, Tolland, 
Windham, New London, and Middlesex Counties in Connecticut. The 
proposed Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA covers approximately 1,246 
square-miles and is not located within nor overlaps any other AVA. 
There are 16 commercially-producing vineyards covering a total of 
approximately 114.75 acres within the proposed AVA, as well as 6 bonded 
wineries. According to the petition, an additional 20.5 acres of 
commercial vineyards are planned for planting in the next few years. 
According to the petition, the distinguishing features of

[[Page 54780]]

the proposed AVA are its geology, topography, soils, and climate.
    The petition states that the proposed Eastern Connecticut Highlands 
AVA is underlain by Paleozoic formation called Iapetus Terrane, which 
is comprised mostly of metamorphic rocks that are difficult to erode, 
resulting in the hills and mountains that characterize the proposed 
AVA. To the west of the proposed AVA, the Central Valley is comprised 
of younger, more easily eroded sandstone, shale, and basalt lava flows 
that have a significantly different chemical composition than that of 
the proposed AVA. The regions to the east and south of the proposed AVA 
are part of the Avalonia Terrane, which consists of older, Pre-Cambrian 
rocks.
    According to the petition, the proposed Eastern Connecticut 
Highlands AVA is characterized by hilly-to-mountainous terrain, with 
elevations ranging from 200 to 1,000 feet in elevation. The eastern and 
western edges of the proposed AVA are characterized by sharp ridgelines 
and high elevations, while the central portion of the proposed AVA is 
comprised of rounded hills. By contrast, the region to the west of the 
proposed AVA is a broad, flat valley with low elevations. The coastal 
region to the south of the proposed AVA also contains generally lower 
elevations than those within the proposed AVA. The terrain of the 
proposed AVA extends north into Massachusetts and east into Rhode 
Island, however, the elevations differ in those locations. The petition 
adds that the topography of the proposed AVA affects viticulture 
because topography affects climate. Regions with higher elevations, 
such as the proposed AVA, generally have a colder climate than regions 
with lower elevations, such as the region to the west of the proposed 
AVA. Additionally, regions that are closer to the coast, such as the 
region to the south of the proposed AVA and the lower elevations of 
region to the east, are more significantly affected by maritime climate 
than higher inland regions like the proposed AVA.
    The petition states that the soils in the proposed AVA developed on 
lodgement till, which is material deposited by glaciers as they move 
across the landscape. The soils are thick sandy-to-silty loams and 
range from well to poorly drained. In contrast, the region to the south 
of the proposed AVA contains only a small amount of lodgement till. The 
regions to the south and west of the proposed AVA formed on ablation 
till, which is material deposited as a stagnant or slow-moving glacier 
melts. The petition also provided information on the concentrations of 
seven elements found in the soils of the proposed AVA and the regions 
to the east, south, and west that play vital roles in vine nutrition: 
Calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, sulfur, and zinc. 
When compared to the soils in the region to the west of the proposed 
AVA, the proposed AVA has higher levels of calcium, iron, magnesium, 
and sulfur, and lower levels of potassium, phosphorous, and zinc. 
Compared to the soils to the east and south, the proposed AVA has 
similar levels of calcium, phosphorous, and sulfur, higher levels of 
iron, magnesium, and zinc, and lower levels of potassium. The petition 
also shows these element levels give soil in the proposed AVA 
conditions that provide for grapevine growth, as well as prevent 
chlorosis in the vines.
    The petition included information of the average annual 
temperatures, growing degree days (GDD),\1\ coldest recorded 
temperature, average date of the latest spring frost, and average date 
of the earliest fall frost for the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA 
and the surrounding regions. The data was collected from 1996 to 2015. 
While the proposed AVA has average annual temperatures that are 
generally similar to the surrounding regions, the data shows more 
pronounced differences in other climate measurements. The proposed AVA 
has significantly higher GDD accumulations than the region to its 
north, indicating warmer growing season temperatures. The proposed AVA 
also has a shorter growing season than most of the areas to the north, 
as indicated by a later last-spring-frost date and earlier first-fall-
frost date for the proposed AVA. The proposed AVA has lower GDD 
accumulations and a shorter growing season than the regions to the 
south and east. Finally, the proposed AVA has lower GDD accumulations 
and a shorter growing season than the region to its west.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ See Albert J. Winkler et al., General Viticulture 61-64 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2nd ed. 1974). In the 
Winkler climate classification system, annual heat accumulation 
during the growing season, measured in annual growing degree days 
(GDD), defines climatic regions. One GDD accumulates for each degree 
Fahrenheit that a day's mean temperature is above 50 degrees, the 
minimum temperature required for grapevine growth.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Comments Received

    TTB published Notice No. 179 in the Federal Register on December 
13, 2018 (83 FR 64,047), proposing to establish the Eastern Connecticut 
Highlands AVA. In the notice, TTB summarized the evidence from the 
petition regarding the name, boundary, and distinguishing features for 
the proposed AVA. The notice also compared the distinguishing features 
of the proposed AVA to the surrounding areas. For a detailed 
description of the evidence relating to the name, boundary, and 
distinguishing features of the proposed AVA, and for a detailed 
comparison of the distinguishing features of the proposed AVA to the 
surrounding areas, see Notice No. 179. In Notice No. 179, TTB solicited 
comments on the accuracy of the name, boundary, and other required 
information submitted in support of the petition. The comment period 
closed on February 11, 2019.
    In response to Notice No. 179, TTB received one comment from a 
member of the public. The commenter supported the establishment of the 
Eastern Connecticut Highlands viticultural area due to the climate and 
soil differences between the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA and in 
the regions surrounding it.

TTB Determination

    After careful review of the petition and the comment received in 
response to Notice No. 179, TTB finds that the evidence provided by the 
petitioner supports the establishment of the Eastern Connecticut 
Highlands AVA. Accordingly, under the authority of the FAA Act, section 
1111(d) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and parts 4 and 9 of the 
TTB regulations, TTB establishes the ``Eastern Connecticut Highlands'' 
AVA in all or portions of Hartford, New Haven, Tolland, Windham, New 
London, and Middlesex Counties in Connecticut, effective 30 days from 
the publication date of this document.

Boundary Description

    See the narrative description of the boundary of the Eastern 
Connecticut Highlands AVA in the regulatory text published at the end 
of this final rule.

Maps

    The petitioner provided the required maps, and they are listed 
below in the regulatory text.

Impact on Current Wine Labels

    Part 4 of the TTB regulations prohibits any label reference on a 
wine that indicates or implies an origin other than the wine's true 
place of origin. For a wine to be labeled with an AVA name or with a 
brand name that includes an AVA name, at least 85 percent of the wine 
must be derived from grapes grown within the area represented by that 
name, and the wine must meet the other conditions listed in 27 CFR 
4.25(e)(3). If the wine is not eligible for

[[Page 54781]]

labeling with an AVA name and that name appears in the brand name, then 
the label is not in compliance and the bottler must change the brand 
name and obtain approval of a new label. Similarly, if the AVA name 
appears in another reference on the label in a misleading manner, the 
bottler would have to obtain approval of a new label. Different rules 
apply if a wine has a brand name containing an AVA name that was used 
as a brand name on a label approved before July 7, 1986. See 27 CFR 
4.39(i)(2) for details.
    With the establishment of this AVA, its name, ``Eastern Connecticut 
Highlands,'' will be recognized as a name of viticultural significance 
under Sec.  4.39(i)(3) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.39(i)(3)). The 
text of the regulation clarifies this point. Consequently, wine 
bottlers using the name ``Eastern Connecticut Highlands'' in a brand 
name, including a trademark, or in another label reference as to the 
origin of the wine, will have to ensure that the product is eligible to 
use the AVA name as an appellation of origin. The establishment of the 
Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA will not affect any existing AVA. The 
establishment of the Eastern Connecticut Highlands AVA will allow 
vintners to use ``Eastern Connecticut Highlands'' as an appellation of 
origin for wines made primarily from grapes grown within the Eastern 
Connecticut Highlands AVA if the wines meet the eligibility 
requirements for the appellation.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    TTB certifies that this regulation will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The 
regulation imposes no new reporting, recordkeeping, or other 
administrative requirement. Any benefit derived from the use of an AVA 
name would be the result of a proprietor's efforts and consumer 
acceptance of wines from that area. Therefore, no regulatory 
flexibility analysis is required.

Executive Order 12866

    It has been determined that this final rule is not a significant 
regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 
1993. Therefore, no regulatory assessment is required.

Drafting Information

    Kate M. Bresnahan of the Regulations and Rulings Division drafted 
this final rule.

List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 9

    Wine.

The Regulatory Amendment

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, TTB amends title 27, 
chapter I, part 9, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

PART 9--AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREAS

0
1. The authority citation for part 9 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  27 U.S.C. 205.

Subpart C--Approved American Viticultural Areas


0
2. Subpart C is amended by adding Sec.  9.267 to read as follows:


Sec.  9.267   Eastern Connecticut Highlands.

    (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this 
section is ``Eastern Connecticut Highlands''. For purposes of part 4 of 
this chapter, ``Eastern Connecticut Highlands'' is a term of 
viticultural significance.
    (b) Approved maps. The one United States Geological Survey (USGS) 
1:125,000 scale topographic map used to determine the boundary of the 
Eastern Connecticut Highlands viticultural area is titled ``State of 
Connecticut.''
    (c) Boundary. The Eastern Connecticut Highlands viticultural area 
is located in Hartford, New Haven, Tolland, Windham, New London, and 
Middlesex Counties in Connecticut. The boundary of the Eastern 
Connecticut Highlands viticultural area is as described below:
    (1) The beginning point is on the State of Connecticut map at the 
intersection of State Highway 83 and the Massachusetts-Connecticut 
State line in Somers. From the beginning point, proceed east along the 
Massachusetts-Connecticut State line approximately 33 miles to the 
intersection of the shared State line and an unnamed road, known 
locally as Bonnette Avenue, in Thompson; then
    (2) Proceed southeast along Bonnette Avenue approximately 0.38 mile 
to its intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Sand Dam 
Road; then
    (3) Proceed southeast along Sand Dam Road approximately 1.5 miles 
to its intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Thompson 
Road; then
    (4) Proceed south along Thompson Road approximately 1,000 feet to 
its intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Quaddick Town 
Farm Road; then
    (5) Proceed east then south along Quaddick Town Farm Road 
approximately 5.5 miles into the town of Putnam, where the road becomes 
known as East Putnam Road, and continuing south along East Putnam Road 
approximately 1 mile to its intersection with U.S. Highway 44; then
    (6) Proceed west along U.S. Highway 44 approximately 1 mile to its 
intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Tucker Hill Road; 
then
    (7) Proceed south along Tucker Hill Road approximately 0.38 mile to 
its intersection with an unnamed road known locally as Five Mile River 
Road; then
    (8) Proceed southwest then west along Five Mile River Road 1.75 
miles to its intersection with State Highway 21; then
    (9) Proceed south along State Highway 21 approximately 2 miles to 
its intersection with State Highway 12; then
    (10) Proceed south along State Highway 12 approximately 1 mile to 
its intersection with Five Mile River; then
    (11) Proceed west along Five Mile River approximately 0.13 mile to 
its intersection with the highway marked on the map State Highway 52 
(also known as Interstate 395); then
    (12) Proceed south along State Highway 52/Interstate 395 
approximately 14.5 miles to its intersection with State Highway 201; 
then
    (13) Proceed southeast along State Highway 201 approximately 5.25 
miles to its intersection with State Highway 165; then
    (14) Proceed southwest along State Highway 165 approximately 10 
miles to its intersection with State Highway 2; then
    (15) Proceed west along State Highway 2 approximately 1 mile to its 
intersection with State Highway 82; then
    (16) Proceed southwest, then northwest, then southwest along State 
Highway 82 approximately 27.72 miles to its intersection with State 
Highway 9; then
    (17) Proceed southeast along State Highway 9 approximately 3.7 
miles to its intersection with State Highway 80; then
    (18) Proceed west along State Highway 80 approximately 15.7 miles 
to its intersection with State Highway 77; then
    (19) Proceed north along State Highway 77 approximately 8.3 miles 
to its intersection with State Highway 17; then
    (20) Proceed northeast along State Highway 17 approximately 6.8 
miles to the point where it becomes concurrent with State Highway 9; 
then
    (21) Proceed north along concurrent State Highway 17-State Highway 
9 approximately 0.75 mile the point

[[Page 54782]]

where State Highway 17 departs from State Highway 9; then
    (22) Proceed east along State Highway 17 approximately 0.25 mile, 
crossing over the Connecticut River, to the highway's intersection with 
State Highway 17A; then
    (23) Proceed north along State Highway 17A approximately 3 miles to 
its intersection with State Highway 17; then
    (24) Proceed north along State Highway 17 approximately 8 miles to 
its intersection with State Highway 94; then
    (25) Proceed east along State Highway 94 approximately 4 miles to 
its intersection with State Highway 83; then
    (26) Proceed north along State Highway 83 approximately 25 miles, 
returning to the beginning point.

    Signed: July 9, 2019.
Mary G. Ryan,
Acting Administrator.

    Approved: September 23, 2019.
Timothy E. Skud,
Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax, Trade, and Tariff Policy).
[FR Doc. 2019-22265 Filed 10-10-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4810-31-P