Proposed Establishment of the Royal Slope Viticultural Area, 55075-55081 [2019-22266]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules availability of this material at the FAA, call 781–238–7759. Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on October 7, 2019. Robert J. Ganley, Manager, Engine & Propeller Standards Branch, Aircraft Certification Service. [FR Doc. 2019–22393 Filed 10–11–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Internal Revenue Service 26 CFR Part 1 [REG–121508–18] RIN 1545–BO97 Multiple Employer Plans; Hearing Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury. ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of hearing. AGENCY: This document provides a notice of public hearing on proposed regulations relating to the tax qualification of plans maintained by more than one employer. These plans, maintained pursuant to section 413(c) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code), are often referred to as multiple employer plans or MEPs. DATES: The public hearing is being held on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. The IRS must receive speakers’ outlines of the topics to be discussed at the public hearing by Monday, November 25, 2019. If no outlines are received by November 25, 2019, the public hearing will be cancelled. SUMMARY: The public hearing is being held in the IRS Auditorium, Internal Revenue Service Building, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20224. Due to building security procedures, visitors must enter at the Constitution Avenue entrance. In addition, all visitors must present a valid photo identification to enter the building. Send Submissions to CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG–121508–18), Room 5205, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. Submissions may be handdelivered Monday through Friday to CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG–121508–18), Couriers Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20224 or sent electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov (IRS REG–121508– 18). khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS ADDRESSES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:47 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Concerning the regulations, Pamela Kinard at (202) 317–6000 or Jamie Dvoretzky at (202) 317–4102; concerning submissions of comments, the hearing and/or to be placed on the building access list to attend the hearing, Regina Johnson at (202) 317– 6901 (not toll-free numbers), fdms.database@irscounsel.treas.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The subject of the public hearing is the notice of proposed rulemaking (REG– 121508–18) that was published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 (84 FR 31777). The rules of 26 CFR 601.601(a)(3) apply to the hearing. Persons who wish to present oral comments at the hearing that submitted written comments by October 1, 2019, must submit an outline of the topics to be addressed and the amount of time to be devoted to each topic by Monday, November 25, 2019. A period of 10 minutes is allotted to each person for presenting oral comments. After the deadline for receiving outlines has passed, the IRS will prepare an agenda containing the schedule of speakers. Copies of the agenda will be made available, free of charge, at the hearing or by contacting the Publications and Regulations Branch at (202) 317–6901(not a toll-free number). Because of access restrictions, the IRS will not admit visitors beyond the immediate entrance area more than 30 minutes before the hearing starts. For information about having your name placed on the building access list to attend the hearing, see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document. Martin V. Franks, Branch Chief, Publications and Regulations Branch, Legal Processing Division, Associate Chief Counsel, (Procedure and Administration). [FR Doc. 2019–22369 Filed 10–11–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4830–01–P DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau 27 CFR Part 9 [Docket No. TTB–2019–0008; Notice No. 186] RIN 1513–AC53 Proposed Establishment of the Royal Slope Viticultural Area Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 ACTION: 55075 Notice of proposed rulemaking. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) proposes to establish the 156,389-acre ‘‘Royal Slope’’ viticultural area in Adams and Grant Counties, in Washington. The proposed viticultural area lies entirely within the existing Columbia Valley viticultural area. 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. TTB invites comments on this proposed addition to its regulations. DATES: Comments must be received December 16, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may electronically submit comments to TTB on this proposal, and view copies of this document, its supporting materials, and any comments TTB receives on it within Docket No. TTB–2019–0008 as posted on Regulations.gov (https:// www.regulations.gov), the Federal erulemaking portal. Please see the ‘‘Public Participation’’ section of this document below for full details on how to comment on this proposal via Regulations.gov, U.S. mail, or hand delivery, and for full details on how to view or obtain copies of this document, its supporting materials, and any comments related to this proposal. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen A. Thornton, 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. 175. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: 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 E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 55076 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules Administrator to perform the functions and duties in the administration and enforcement of these provisions. Part 4 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 4) authorizes TTB to establish 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. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 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 the 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; • The appropriate United States Geological Survey (USGS) map(s) showing the location of the proposed VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 AVA, with the boundary of the proposed AVA clearly drawn thereon; • An explanation of the proposed AVA is sufficiently distinct from an existing AVA so as to warrant separate recognition, if the proposed AVA is to be established within, or overlapping, an existing AVA; and • A detailed narrative description of the proposed AVA boundary based on USGS map markings. Royal Slope Petition TTB received a petition from Dr. Alan Busacca, a licensed geologist and founder of Vinitas Vineyard Consultants, LLC, on behalf of the Royal Slope Wine Grower’s Association, proposing the establishment of the ‘‘Royal Slope’’ AVA. The proposed Royal Slope AVA is located in eastcentral Washington and covers portions of Adams and Grant Counties. The proposed AVA lies entirely within the established Columbia Valley AVA (27 CFR 9.74) and does not overlap any other existing or proposed AVA, although a small portion of the proposed AVA’s northern boundary is shared with the southern boundary of the established Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA (27 CFR 9.227). The proposed Royal Slope AVA covers 156,389 acres and contains 1 winery and 13 commercially-producing vineyards that cover a total of approximately 14,100 acres. Approximately 100 additional acres of wine grapes were planted in 2016, and winegrowers report that they plan to plant about 200 additional acres of wine grapes in 2017 (Table 1). The distinguishing features of the proposed Royal Slope AVA are its climate, topography, geology, and soils. Unless otherwise noted, all information and data pertaining to the proposed AVA contained in this document are from the petition for the proposed Royal Slope AVA and its supporting exhibits. Name Evidence The proposed Royal Slope AVA is a heavily farmed region of rolling hills that gently slope towards the south. According to the petition, one story of the origin of the region’s name is that a pair of Scotsmen climbed the nearby Saddle Mountains in the early 1900’s. As they surveyed the topography below, with its south-facing slopes that were desirable for farming, one of the men was purported to have exclaimed, ‘‘Now that’s a royal slope!’’ The petition included examples of the use of the term ‘‘Royal Slope’’ to describe or refer to the region of the proposed AVA. The petition noted that the region of the proposed AVA is PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 labeled as ‘‘Royal Slope’’ on U.S.G.S. maps dating back to 1951. A search of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names database 1 shows that ‘‘Royal Slope’’ is the name of a slope in Grant County, Washington, where the proposed AVA is located. A road within the proposed AVA is named Royal Slope Road, and a local dairy is named Sunny Royal Slope Dairy. Finally, the petition notes that the port district that serves the region of the proposed AVA is named the Port of Royal Slope. The petition also included several examples of use of the term ‘‘Royal Slope’’ to refer to the region of the proposed AVA in printed and online media. For example, a 1996 thesis from Central Washington University is entitled ‘‘Mid-Twentieth Century Pioneering of the Royal Slope, Central Washington.’’ 2 An article from a major agricultural weekly newspaper about the grain harvest within the region of the proposed AVA is entitled ‘‘Triticale harvest under way on Royal Slope.’’ 3 An article from a local newspaper describes a businessman who started a fruit freezing and drying company after he ‘‘moved to the Royal Slope in 1962.’’ 4 An article from an agricultural magazine describes an orchard manager’s discovery of a new variety of apple in an orchard ‘‘on Washington’s Royal Slope.’’ 5 Several vineyards within the proposed AVA list their location as ‘‘Royal Slope’’ on their websites, including Lawrence Vineyards.6 Finally, the Washington Wine Commission’s website describes the location of both Lawrence Vineyards and Stillwater Creek Vineyard as being on the Royal Slope.7 The petition also stated that the name ‘‘Royal Slope’’ is not used for any other geographic region in the United States, as attested to in the U.S. Board on Geographic Names Geographic Names Information System. Boundary Evidence The proposed Royal Slope AVA is a rectangular region with an east-west orientation. It is located on the southfacing slopes of a range of hills known as the Frenchman Hills. The northern boundary of the proposed AVA mainly follows the southern boundary of the 1 https://geonames.usgs.gov. 2 http://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/thesis_projects/ 52. 3 https://www.capitalpress.com/state/washington/ triticale-harvest-under-way-on-royal-slope/article_ 7b741500-aa2a-5a7f-bfde-093d2d039ab4.html. 4 www.Columbiabasinherald.com/crescent_bar_ chronicle/news/business/article_8b7c49a2-327d11e2-976c-001a4bcf887a.html. 5 www.goodfruit.com/a-grower-reaches-out-toconsumers. 6 www.lawrencevineyards.com. 7 www.washingtonwine.org/explore/map. E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area, which is unavailable for commercial viticultural purposes due to its status as a wildlife refuge. The petition also states that the region to the north of the proposed AVA is within the geographical feature known as the Quincy Basin, which is very flat and has lower elevations than the proposed AVA. The proposed eastern boundary also follows wildlife refuge boundaries, namely the Goose and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. The proposed southern boundary largely follows the 250-meter (approximately 820 feet) elevation contour that separates the fertile, gently rolling terrain of the proposed AVA from the lower, less fertile ‘‘scablands’’ of the Crab Creek Coulee. The proposed western boundary also follows the 250-meter elevation contour that separates the proposed AVA from less fertile lands along the Columbia River. Distinguishing Features The distinguishing features of the proposed Royal Slope AVA are its climate, topography, geology, and soils. Climate The petition included data on several aspects of climate gathered between 2009 and 2016 from three locations within the proposed Royal Slope AVA and five nearby locations outside the proposed AVA. The petition also included the same climate data for a 55077 location within the established Red Mountain AVA (27 CFR 9.167), which is approximately 40 miles south of the proposed AVA, and a separate location within the established Horse Heaven Hills AVA (27 CFR 9.188), which is approximately 67 miles south of the proposed AVA. Due to the distance of both the Red Mountain AVA and the Horse Heaven Hills AVA from the proposed AVA, as well as the availability of sufficient climate data from sources closer to the proposed AVA, TTB does not consider the climate data from these two established AVAs to be relevant to the proposed Royal Slope AVA petition and is not including that data in this document. CLIMATE OF THE PROPOSED ROYAL SLOPE AVA AND SURROUNDING REGIONS Mean annual air temperature (degrees fahrenheit (F)) Weather station location (direction from proposed AVA) Royal Slope East, (within proposed AVA) ..................... Royal City East, (within proposed AVA) ........................ Royal City West, (within proposed AVA) ....................... Broadview (west) ........................................................... Othello (east) ................................................................. Frenchman Hills, (north) ................................................ Quincy (north) ................................................................ Desert Aire (south) ......................................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Withinthe proposed Royal Slope AVA, the mean annual air temperature is slightly warmer than temperatures in the regions to the north, east, and west, and slightly cooler than in the region to the south. The petition describes the temperatures within the proposed AVA as warm but not excessively hot, making it a suitable climate for growing a variety of red and white varietals of Vitis vinifera grapes, including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Riesling. The GDD totals from within the proposed AVA show a more significant difference between the climate of the proposed AVA and the surrounding regions. Two of the three stations within the proposed AVA have greater GDD 8 In the Winkler climate classification system, annual heat accumulation during the growing season, measured in annual growing degree days (GDDs), 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. See Albert J. Winkler, General Viticulture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), pages 61–64. 9 CCVSI represents the number of days between the last temperature below 29 degrees F in the spring and the first temperature below 29 degrees F in the fall. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 Average annual growing degree days (GDDs) 8 52.2 51.4 51.8 47.2 50.3 50.1 50.7 54.7 Cool-climate viticulture sustainability index 9 (CCVSI) 2,951 2,776 2,978 1,940 2,522 2,484 2,807 3,518 totals than all of the surrounding regions except the region to the south, while the third station’s GDD total is greater than all the surrounding regions except the region to the south and the Quincy station to the north. According to the petition, all three stations within the proposed AVA are classified as being within the Winkler Region II, which includes regions with GDD totals between 2,501 and 3,000. The petition states that locations classified as Winkler Region II are suitable for growing all but the latest of the lateripening grape varietals. The average CCVSI number for the three locations within the proposed Royal Slope AVA is 234, indicating a long growing period without hard freezes. Only the region to the south has a greater CCVSI number than any of the stations within the proposed AVA, while the Quincy station to the north has the same CCVSI number as the warmest station within the proposed AVA. The remaining stations outside of the proposed AVA have, on average, CCVSI numbers indicating between 30 and 70 fewer growing season days than the locations within the proposed AVA. According to the petition, larger CCVSI PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 242 232 229 159 204 207 242 260 Number of days with temperatures below 32 degrees F annually 79 89 95 161 107 118 95 77 Number of days with temperatures above 95 degrees F annually 9 7 12 6 7 6 2 23 numbers correlate with better sites to fully ripen grapes. In addition to having a long period of time between hard freezes, the proposed AVA also has fewer days per year with temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (F) than most of the surrounding regions. The only location with fewer days with temperatures below 32 degrees F than all of the locations within the proposed AVA is the region to the south. The Quincy station, to the north, has more days with temperatures below 32 degrees F than two of the stations within the proposed AVA and the same number of days with temperatures below 32 degrees F as one of the stations. This data shows the proposed AVA is at less risk of vinedamaging freezes due to having a smaller number of days per year with temperatures below 32 degrees F than most of the surrounding regions. Finally, the petition included information about the number of days with temperatures above 95 degrees F within the proposed AVA and surrounding regions. The proposed AVA has an average of only 9 days a year with temperatures over 95 degrees F, whereas the region to the south is E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 55078 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS significantly hotter, averaging 23 days a year. The regions to the north, east, and west all have fewer very hot days than the proposed AVA. The petition states that at temperatures above 95 degrees F, grape vines shut down photosynthesis, slowing or even stopping the synthesis of sugars and other ripening factors. As a result, harvest may be delayed into the fall, when seasonal rains or cold snaps could damage fruit still left on the vine. The petition also provided information on the average minimum nighttime temperature during veraison, mean minimum temperature, and mean annual wind run for each of the locations. However, because the petition did not discuss the viticultural effects of those aspects of climate, TTB was unable to determine if they were distinguishing features of the proposed AVA, and they are not discussed in this document. All of the climate data is available in the online docket for this proposed AVA, Docket No. TTB–2019– 0008, at www.regulations.gov. Topography The proposed Royal Slope AVA is located on the gentle, south-facing slopes of an east-west trending range of hills called the Frenchman Hills. Elevations within the proposed AVA range from 610 feet in the extreme southeastern portion of the proposed AVA to 1,756 feet in the extreme northeastern portion. The majority of the slope angles within the proposed AVA are less than 15 percent, but very few slopes have angles less than 3 percent. The slopes are gentle enough for agricultural purposes, including vineyards, and are not as freeze-prone as flatter terrains such as valley floors. To the north of the proposed AVA, the Frenchman Hills fall away to the Quincy Basin, a large, flat-floored valley. The portion of the Quincy Basin along the northeastern edge of the proposed AVA is also covered with sand dunes and ‘‘pothole’’ ponds that formed in the low areas between dune crests. This region of pothole ponds and dunes is also part of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area and is therefore unavailable for commercial agricultural purposes. To the east, south, and west of the proposed AVA are the Crab Creek Coulee and the canyon of the Columbia River, respectively. The topography of these regions is characterized by large areas of craggy, exposed bedrock with steep slopes that are mostly greater than 35 percent. The petition describes Crab Creek Coulee as a ‘‘moonscape of bedrock-dominated scabland’’ that is suitable only for wildlife habitat and light livestock grazing. The floor of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 coulee is significantly lower than the elevations within the proposed AVA, with the lowest point within the coulee being 490 feet. Along the Columbia River, the elevations are also lower than within the proposed AVA, and the terrain is generally too steep and rocky for cultivation. West of the Columbia River, the topography quickly rises to form the foothills of the Cascade Range, which has higher elevations and steeper slopes than the proposed AVA and lacks the climate, slope orientation, or soils suitable for cultivation. Geology According to the petition, the entire Columbia Valley AVA, including the region of the proposed Royal Slope AVA, is underlain with Miocene-era basaltic bedrock and has been affected by Ice Age megafloods. However, the petition states that these floods affected the various sub-regions of the Columbia Valley AVA in different ways. For example, in the region of the proposed Royal Slope AVA, floodwaters followed flood channels to the east and northeast of the proposed AVA, within the Frenchman Hills. The waters entered the region in a relatively smooth fashion, and the proposed AVA remained largely above the floodwaters. As a result, the region of the proposed AVA was not heavily eroded and remained a landscape of gentle hills with deep soils suitable for cultivation. By contrast, the regions to the east and south of the proposed AVA were affected by very fast, deep, and turbulent flood waters that flowed into the valley separating the Frenchman Hills and the proposed Royal Slope AVA from the Saddle Mountains. As these fast-moving waters flowed through the narrow valley, they cut deeply into the landscape and formed the eroded ‘‘scablands’’ of the Crab Creek Coulee. Similarly strong floodwaters flowed through the Columbia River, to the west of the proposed AVA, and created a steep, deeply-scarred river canyon. To the north of the proposed AVA, the floodwaters flowed more gently and smoothly over the flat landscape of the Quincy Basin, depositing vast amounts of sand that formed depths of over 100 feet in places and creating a landscape of dunes and ‘‘pothole’’ lakes. Farther south of the Crab Creek Coulee is the established Wahluke Slope AVA (27 CFR 9.192) on the southern slopes of the Saddle Mountains. Although the Wahluke Slope AVA is a gently sloping region with a gently undulating surface, the petition states that the Wahluke Slope AVA has a different geologic history than the proposed Royal Slope AVA. According PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 to the petition, the Wahluke Slope AVA is located on an alluvial fan or fan delta. The fan formed when the repeated Ice Age megafloods flowing in the many floodways and coulees around the region of the proposed Royal Slope AVA combined in the channel of the Columbia River and traveled south. These floodwaters then broke through a narrow watergap in the Saddle Mountains, known as Sentinel Gap. Since the gap is only about a mile wide, it restricted the flow of the floodwaters, which backed up to great depth upstream of the gap and eventually jetted through the gap with great force. The floodwaters carried sand, silt, cobbles, gravels, and boulders through the gap and deposited them in a widening fan-shaped triangle that formed the slope on which the Wahluke Slope AVA is located. Soils The soils within the proposed Royal Slope AVA are a combination of sediments and soils from glacial floods and wind-blown post-glacial sand and silt (loess). The soils within the proposed AVA are generally deep enough for vines to extend their roots far into the soil before encountering bedrock or other impediment. The predominant soils are classified as Aridisols, which are characterized by loamy-to-sandy textures and very low amounts of humified organic material, so vine vigor is naturally low. The soils are also well drained and have naturally low soil moisture, so growers can easily control vine development via the timing and amounts of drip irrigation applied during the growing season. The petition states that the major soil series are Warden, Sagemoor, Adkins, and Kennewick, which together comprise approximately 59 percent of the total soil in the proposed AVA and approximately 75 percent of the vineyard acreage. To the immediate east, west, and south of the proposed AVA are the scablands of the Crab Creek Coulee and the Columbia River Valley. In these regions, the Ice Age floodwaters stripped away most of the soil, leaving behind exposed bedrock. Normal erosion processes in post-glacial times have continuously removed any loose soil materials, maintaining the scabland characteristics and leaving behind a rocky landscape unable to support agricultural activities. Farther south of the proposed AVA, within the established Wahluke Slope AVA, the soils are deep and fertile enough for agricultural purposes, including viticulture. However, the petition states that the soils of the E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 55079 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules Wahluke Slope AVA are different from those of the proposed AVA. For example, the Adkins soil series, which is the most prominent soil series of the proposed AVA, is not found within the Wahluke Slope AVA. Instead, the most common soil series in the Wahluke Slope AVA is the Quincy soil series, which makes up 32.6 percent of the soils of the Wahluke Slope AVA but comprises less than 2 percent of the soils of the proposed Royal Slope AVA. Additionally, soils within the Wahluke Slope AVA are predominately classified as Entisols, rather than Aridisols. The petition states that Entisol soils are extremely well-drained due to their high sand content and are very susceptible to wind erosion. Although the soils of the Wahluke Slope AVA have been developed for viticulture, the petition states that vineyard owners with vines planted in Entisol soils face more challenges than owners of vineyards planted in Aridosol soils due to their ‘‘extreme droughtiness’’ and ‘‘extreme wind erosion hazard.’’ To the north of the proposed AVA, within the established Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA, the soils are also predominately Entisols. The Quincy soil series is also the most common soil series in this region, making up approximately 19 percent of the soils. Summary of Distinguishing Features In summary, the climate, topography, geology, and soils of the proposed Royal Slope AVA distinguish it from the surrounding regions. The following table summarizes the differences between the proposed AVA and the surrounding regions. SUMMARY OF DISTINGUISHING FEATURES khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Region Climate Topography Geology Proposed Royal Slope AVA. Moderately warm Winkler Region II with a long growing season. Rolling hills with gentle south-facing slopes. Remained relatively untouched by Ice Age floods; little exposed bedrock. North .................................. Slightly cooler temperatures with generally shorter growing season. East ................................... Slightly cooler temperatures with shorter growing season. Large, flat-floored valley with regions of sand dunes and ‘‘pothole’’ ponds. Rocky, steep-sided ‘‘scabland’’ coulee. South ................................. Significantly warmer temperatures with longer growing season. Rocky, steep-sided ‘‘scabland’’ coulee to immediate south; gently sloping terrain farther south in Wahluke Slope AVA. West .................................. Significantly cooler temperatures with significantly shorter growing season. Rocky, steep-sided canyon of the Columbia River; farther west, the rugged slopes of the Cascade Range. Ice Age floods deposited large quantities of sand and formed ‘‘pothole’’ ponds. Deeply eroded by Ice Age floods, leaving behind large quantities of exposed bedrock. To the immediate south, deeply eroded by Ice Age floods, leaving behind large quantities of exposed bedrock; farther south, the Wahluke Slope AVA is an alluvial fan created by Ice Age floods. Deeply eroded by Ice Age floods, leaving behind large quantities of exposed bedrock. Comparison of the Proposed Royal Slope AVA to the Existing Columbia Valley AVA T.D. ATF–190, which published in the Federal Register on November 13, 1984 (49 FR 44895), established the Columbia Valley AVA in central Washington and the north-central portion of Oregon. The Columbia Valley AVA is described in T.D. ATF–190 as a large, treeless basin of undulating hills surrounding the Snake, Yakima, and Columbia Rivers within the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains. The climate of the Columbia Valley AVA is characterized by a growing season length of over 150 days and annual rainfall totals of 15 inches or less. The proposed Royal Slope AVA is located in the western central portion of the Columbia Valley AVA and shares some broad characteristics with the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 established AVA. For example, the proposed AVA is also a treeless region of undulating hills and is adjacent to the Columbia River. Additionally, the growing season of the proposed AVA is longer than 150 days, with an average growing season length of 234 days. Furthermore, although precipitation is not a distinguishing feature of the proposed AVA, the petition notes that annual rainfall amounts within the proposed Royal Slope AVA average 6.5 inches, which is within the range of the annual precipitation amounts for the Columbia Valley AVA. However, the smaller proposed AVA is much more uniform in its climate, topography, geology, and soils than the much larger established Columbia Valley. For example, the proposed Royal Slope AVA does not contain any ‘‘scablands’’ or other regions with large amounts of PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Soils Deep, well-drained soils derived from glacial sediments and loess; predominately Aridisols of the Adkins soil series. Sandy soils; predominately Entisols of the Quincy soil series. Very little soil due to erosion. To the immediate south, very little soil due to erosion; in Wahluke Slope AVA, sandy soils, including Entisols of the Quincy soil series. Very little soil due to erosion. exposed bedrock. The proposed AVA also has a more limited variety of soils than the more diverse Columbia Valley AVA. TTB Determination TTB concludes that the petition to establish the approximately 156,389acre Royal Slope AVA merits consideration and public comment, as invited in this notice of proposed rulemaking. Boundary Description See the narrative description of the boundary of the petitioned-for AVA in the proposed regulatory text published at the end of this proposed rule. E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 55080 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Maps The petitioner provided the required maps, and they are listed below in the proposed 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, 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 § 4.25(e)(3) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(3)). If the wine is not eligible for 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 § 4.39(i)(2) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.39(i)(2)) for details. If TTB establishes this proposed AVA, its name, ‘‘Royal Slope,’’ 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 proposed regulation clarifies this point. Consequently, wine bottlers using the name ‘‘Royal Slope’’ in a brand name, including a trademark, or in another label reference as to the origin of the wine, would have to ensure that the product is eligible to use the AVA name as an appellation of origin if this proposed rule is adopted as a final rule. The approval of the proposed Royal Slope AVA would not affect any existing AVA, and any bottlers using ‘‘Columbia Valley’’ as an appellation of origin or in a brand name for wines made from grapes grown within the Royal Slope AVA would not be affected by the establishment of this new AVA. The establishment of the proposed Royal Slope AVA would allow vintners to use ‘‘Royal Slope’’ and ‘‘Columbia Valley’’ as appellations of origin for wines made from grapes grown within the proposed Royal Slope AVA, if the wines meet the eligibility requirements for the appellation. Public Participation Comments Invited TTB invites comments from interested members of the public on whether it VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 should establish the proposed AVA. TTB is also interested in receiving comments on the sufficiency and accuracy of the name, boundary, soils, climate, and other required information submitted in support of the petition. In addition, given the proposed Royal Slope AVA’s location within the existing Columbia Valley AVA, TTB is interested in comments on whether the evidence submitted in the petition regarding the distinguishing features of the proposed AVA sufficiently differentiates it from the existing Columbia Valley AVA. TTB is also interested in comments on whether the geographic features of the proposed AVA are so distinguishable from the surrounding Columbia Valley AVA that the proposed Royal Slope AVA should no longer be part of that AVA. Please provide any available specific information in support of your comments. Because of the potential impact of the establishment of the proposed Royal Slope AVA on wine labels that include the term ‘‘Royal Slope’’ as discussed above under Impact on Current Wine Labels, TTB is particularly interested in comments regarding whether there will be a conflict between the proposed AVA name and currently used brand names. If a commenter believes that a conflict will arise, the comment should describe the nature of that conflict, including any anticipated negative economic impact that approval of the proposed AVA will have on an existing viticultural enterprise. TTB is also interested in receiving suggestions for ways to avoid conflicts, for example, by adopting a modified or different name for the AVA. Submitting Comments You may submit comments on this notice by using one of the following three methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: You may send comments via the online comment form posted with this notice within Docket No. TTB–2019–0008 on ‘‘Regulations.gov,’’ the Federal erulemaking portal, at https:// www.regulations.gov. A direct link to that docket is available under Notice No. 186 on the TTB website at https:// www.ttb.gov/wine/winerulemaking.shtml. Supplemental files may be attached to comments submitted via Regulations.gov. For complete instructions on how to use Regulations.gov, visit the site and click on the ‘‘Help’’ tab. • U.S. Mail: You may send comments via postal mail to the Director, Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Bureau, 1310 G Street NW, Box 12, Washington, DC 20005. • Hand Delivery/Courier: You may hand-carry your comments or have them hand-carried to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005. Please submit your comments by the closing date shown above in this notice. Your comments must reference Notice No. 186 and include your name and mailing address. Your comments also must be made in English, be legible, and be written in language acceptable for public disclosure. TTB does not acknowledge receipt of comments, and TTB considers all comments as originals. In your comment, please clearly state if you are commenting for yourself or on behalf of an association, business, or other entity. If you are commenting on behalf of an entity, your comment must include the entity’s name, as well as your name and position title. If you comment via Regulations.gov, please enter the entity’s name in the ‘‘Organization’’ blank of the online comment form. If you comment via postal mail or hand delivery/courier, please submit your entity’s comment on letterhead. You may also write to the Administrator before the comment closing date to ask for a public hearing. The Administrator reserves the right to determine whether to hold a public hearing. Confidentiality All submitted comments and attachments are part of the public record and subject to disclosure. Do not enclose any material in your comments that you consider to be confidential or inappropriate for public disclosure. Public Disclosure TTB will post, and you may view, copies of this notice, selected supporting materials, and any online or mailed comments received about this proposal within Docket No. TTB–2019– 0008 on the Federal e-rulemaking portal, Regulations.gov, at https:// www.regulations.gov. A direct link to that docket is available on the TTB website at https://www.ttb.gov/wine/ wine_rulemaking.shtml under Notice No. 186. You may also reach the relevant docket through the Regulations.gov search page at https:// www.regulations.gov. For information on how to use Regulations.gov, click on the site’s ‘‘Help’’ tab. All posted comments will display the commenter’s name, organization (if any), city, and State, and, in the case of E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules mailed comments, all address information, including email addresses. TTB may omit voluminous attachments or material that the Bureau considers unsuitable for posting. You may also view copies of this notice, all related petitions, maps and other supporting materials, and any electronic or mailed comments that TTB receives about this proposal by appointment at the TTB Information Resource Center, 1310 G Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005. You may also obtain copies at 20 cents per 8.5- x 11-inch page. Please note that TTB is unable to provide copies of USGS maps or other similarly-sized documents that may be included as part of the AVA petition. Contact TTB’s Regulations and Rulings Division at the above address, by email at https:// www.ttb.gov/webforms/contact_ RRD.shtm, or by telephone at 202–453– 1039, ext. 175, to schedule an appointment or to request copies of comments or other materials. Regulatory Flexibility Act TTB certifies that this proposed regulation, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The proposed regulation imposes no new reporting, recordkeeping, or other administrative requirement. Any benefit derived from the use of a viticultural area 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 proposed 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 Karen A. Thornton of the Regulations and Rulings Division drafted this notice of proposed rulemaking. List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 9 Wine. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed Regulatory Amendment For the reasons discussed in the preamble, TTB proposes to amend 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: ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 Authority: 27 U.S.C. 205. Subpart C—Approved American Viticultural Areas 2. Add § 9. ll to read as follows: § 9. llRoyal Slope. (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this section is ‘‘Royal Slope’’. For purposes of part 4 of this chapter, ‘‘Royal Slope’’ is a term of viticultural significance. (b) Approved maps. The one United States Geological Survey (USGS) 1:100,000 scale topographic map used to determine the boundary of the Royal Slope viticultural area is ‘‘Priest Rapids, WA,’’ 2015. (c) Boundary. The Royal Slope viticultural area is located in Grant and Adams Counties in Washington. The boundary of the Royal Slope viticultural area is as described in paragraphs (c)(1) through (17) of this section: (1) The point of the beginning is on the Priest Rapids map at the intersection of the 250 meter elevation contour and the northern boundary of Section 8, T17N/R23E. From the beginning point, proceed east for approximately 7 miles along the northern boundaries of Sections 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, T17N/ R23E, and Sections 7 and 8, T17N/R24E to the northeast corner of Section 8, T17N/R24E; then (2) Proceed south for approximately 1 mile along the eastern boundary of Section 8 to the southeast corner of Section 8, T17N/R24 E; then (3) Proceed east for approximately 4 miles along the southern boundaries of Sections 9, 10, 11, and 12, T17N/R24E, to the southeastern corner of Section 12, T17N/R24E; then (4) Proceed north for approximately 1.8 miles along the eastern boundaries of Sections 12 and 1, T17N/R24E, to the intersection of the eastern boundary of Section 1 and the southern boundary of the Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area; then (5) Proceed easterly for approximately 20 miles along the boundary of the Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area to the intersection of the wildlife area boundary with O’Sullivan Dam Road/State Highway 262; then (6) Proceed east for approximately 1.5 miles along O’Sullivan Dam Road/State Highway 262 to the intersection of the road with an unnamed road known locally as H Road SE; then (7) Proceed southeasterly for approximately 1.6 miles along H Road SE to the intersection of the road with the southern boundary of Section 16, T17N/R28E; then (8) Proceed east for approximately 0.4 mile along the southern boundary of ■ PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 55081 Section 16 to the intersection of the southeastern corner of Section 16, T17N/R28E, and the western boundary of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge; then (9) Proceed southerly, then southwesterly, for approximately 8 miles along the western boundary of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and the concurrent western boundary of the Goose Lakes Unit of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area to the intersection of the wildlife refuge boundary with the eastern boundary of Section 14, T16N/ R27E; then (10) Proceed south along the eastern boundaries of Sections 14, 23, 26, and 35, T16N/R27E, to the intersection of the eastern boundary of Section 35 with State Highway 26; then (11) Proceed northwesterly for approximately 3 miles along State Highway 26 to the intersection of the highway with the 250-meter elevation contour in the southwest corner of Section 21, T16/R27E; then (12) Proceed westerly for approximately 28 miles along the 250meter elevation contour to the intersection of the elevation contour with the eastern boundary of Section 26, T16N/R23E; then (13) Proceed north for approximately 1,100 feet along the eastern boundary of Section 26 to the northeast corner of Section 26, T16N/R23E; then (14) Proceed west for 1 mile along the northern boundary of Section 26, T16N/ R23E, to the intersection with the eastern boundary of Section 22, T16N/ R23E; then (15) Proceed north for 1 mile along the eastern boundary of Section 22 to the northern boundary of Section 22, T16N/R23E; then (16) Proceed west for approximately 1.05 miles along the northern boundary of Section 22, T16N/R23E, to the intersection of the section boundary with the 250-meter elevation contour; then (17) Proceed northerly for approximately 10 miles along the 250meter elevation contour to return to the beginning point. Signed: July 10, 2019. Mary G. Ryan, Acting Administrator. Approved: September 23, 2019. Timothy E. Skud, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax, Trade, and Tariff Policy). [FR Doc. 2019–22266 Filed 10–11–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810–31–P E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 199 (Tuesday, October 15, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 55075-55081]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-22266]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

27 CFR Part 9

[Docket No. TTB-2019-0008; Notice No. 186]
RIN 1513-AC53


Proposed Establishment of the Royal Slope Viticultural Area

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) proposes to 
establish the 156,389-acre ``Royal Slope'' viticultural area in Adams 
and Grant Counties, in Washington. The proposed viticultural area lies 
entirely within the existing Columbia Valley viticultural area. 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. TTB invites comments on this proposed addition to 
its regulations.

DATES: Comments must be received December 16, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may electronically submit comments to TTB on this 
proposal, and view copies of this document, its supporting materials, 
and any comments TTB receives on it within Docket No. TTB-2019-0008 as 
posted on Regulations.gov (https://www.regulations.gov), the Federal e-
rulemaking portal. Please see the ``Public Participation'' section of 
this document below for full details on how to comment on this proposal 
via Regulations.gov, U.S. mail, or hand delivery, and for full details 
on how to view or obtain copies of this document, its supporting 
materials, and any comments related to this proposal.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Karen A. Thornton, 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. 175.

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

[[Page 55076]]

Administrator to perform the functions and duties in the administration 
and enforcement of these provisions.
    Part 4 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 4) authorizes TTB to 
establish 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 
the 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;
     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;
     An explanation of the proposed AVA is sufficiently 
distinct from an existing AVA so as to warrant separate recognition, if 
the proposed AVA is to be established within, or overlapping, an 
existing AVA; and
     A detailed narrative description of the proposed AVA 
boundary based on USGS map markings.

Royal Slope Petition

    TTB received a petition from Dr. Alan Busacca, a licensed geologist 
and founder of Vinitas Vineyard Consultants, LLC, on behalf of the 
Royal Slope Wine Grower's Association, proposing the establishment of 
the ``Royal Slope'' AVA. The proposed Royal Slope AVA is located in 
east-central Washington and covers portions of Adams and Grant 
Counties. The proposed AVA lies entirely within the established 
Columbia Valley AVA (27 CFR 9.74) and does not overlap any other 
existing or proposed AVA, although a small portion of the proposed 
AVA's northern boundary is shared with the southern boundary of the 
established Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA (27 CFR 9.227). The 
proposed Royal Slope AVA covers 156,389 acres and contains 1 winery and 
13 commercially-producing vineyards that cover a total of approximately 
14,100 acres. Approximately 100 additional acres of wine grapes were 
planted in 2016, and winegrowers report that they plan to plant about 
200 additional acres of wine grapes in 2017 (Table 1).
    The distinguishing features of the proposed Royal Slope AVA are its 
climate, topography, geology, and soils. Unless otherwise noted, all 
information and data pertaining to the proposed AVA contained in this 
document are from the petition for the proposed Royal Slope AVA and its 
supporting exhibits.

Name Evidence

    The proposed Royal Slope AVA is a heavily farmed region of rolling 
hills that gently slope towards the south. According to the petition, 
one story of the origin of the region's name is that a pair of Scotsmen 
climbed the nearby Saddle Mountains in the early 1900's. As they 
surveyed the topography below, with its south-facing slopes that were 
desirable for farming, one of the men was purported to have exclaimed, 
``Now that's a royal slope!''
    The petition included examples of the use of the term ``Royal 
Slope'' to describe or refer to the region of the proposed AVA. The 
petition noted that the region of the proposed AVA is labeled as 
``Royal Slope'' on U.S.G.S. maps dating back to 1951. A search of the 
U.S. Board on Geographic Names database \1\ shows that ``Royal Slope'' 
is the name of a slope in Grant County, Washington, where the proposed 
AVA is located. A road within the proposed AVA is named Royal Slope 
Road, and a local dairy is named Sunny Royal Slope Dairy. Finally, the 
petition notes that the port district that serves the region of the 
proposed AVA is named the Port of Royal Slope.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ https://geonames.usgs.gov.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The petition also included several examples of use of the term 
``Royal Slope'' to refer to the region of the proposed AVA in printed 
and online media. For example, a 1996 thesis from Central Washington 
University is entitled ``Mid-Twentieth Century Pioneering of the Royal 
Slope, Central Washington.'' \2\ An article from a major agricultural 
weekly newspaper about the grain harvest within the region of the 
proposed AVA is entitled ``Triticale harvest under way on Royal 
Slope.'' \3\ An article from a local newspaper describes a businessman 
who started a fruit freezing and drying company after he ``moved to the 
Royal Slope in 1962.'' \4\ An article from an agricultural magazine 
describes an orchard manager's discovery of a new variety of apple in 
an orchard ``on Washington's Royal Slope.'' \5\ Several vineyards 
within the proposed AVA list their location as ``Royal Slope'' on their 
websites, including Lawrence Vineyards.\6\ Finally, the Washington Wine 
Commission's website describes the location of both Lawrence Vineyards 
and Stillwater Creek Vineyard as being on the Royal Slope.\7\ The 
petition also stated that the name ``Royal Slope'' is not used for any 
other geographic region in the United States, as attested to in the 
U.S. Board on Geographic Names Geographic Names Information System.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ http://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/thesis_projects/52.
    \3\ https://www.capitalpress.com/state/washington/triticale-harvest-under-way-on-royal-slope/article_7b741500-aa2a-5a7f-bfde-093d2d039ab4.html.
    \4\ www.Columbiabasinherald.com/crescent_bar_chronicle/news/business/article_8b7c49a2-327d-11e2-976c-001a4bcf887a.html.
    \5\ www.goodfruit.com/a-grower-reaches-out-to-consumers.
    \6\ www.lawrencevineyards.com.
    \7\ www.washingtonwine.org/explore/map.
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Boundary Evidence

    The proposed Royal Slope AVA is a rectangular region with an east-
west orientation. It is located on the south-facing slopes of a range 
of hills known as the Frenchman Hills. The northern boundary of the 
proposed AVA mainly follows the southern boundary of the

[[Page 55077]]

Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area, which is 
unavailable for commercial viticultural purposes due to its status as a 
wildlife refuge. The petition also states that the region to the north 
of the proposed AVA is within the geographical feature known as the 
Quincy Basin, which is very flat and has lower elevations than the 
proposed AVA. The proposed eastern boundary also follows wildlife 
refuge boundaries, namely the Goose and the Columbia National Wildlife 
Refuge. The proposed southern boundary largely follows the 250-meter 
(approximately 820 feet) elevation contour that separates the fertile, 
gently rolling terrain of the proposed AVA from the lower, less fertile 
``scablands'' of the Crab Creek Coulee. The proposed western boundary 
also follows the 250-meter elevation contour that separates the 
proposed AVA from less fertile lands along the Columbia River.

Distinguishing Features

    The distinguishing features of the proposed Royal Slope AVA are its 
climate, topography, geology, and soils.
Climate
    The petition included data on several aspects of climate gathered 
between 2009 and 2016 from three locations within the proposed Royal 
Slope AVA and five nearby locations outside the proposed AVA. The 
petition also included the same climate data for a location within the 
established Red Mountain AVA (27 CFR 9.167), which is approximately 40 
miles south of the proposed AVA, and a separate location within the 
established Horse Heaven Hills AVA (27 CFR 9.188), which is 
approximately 67 miles south of the proposed AVA. Due to the distance 
of both the Red Mountain AVA and the Horse Heaven Hills AVA from the 
proposed AVA, as well as the availability of sufficient climate data 
from sources closer to the proposed AVA, TTB does not consider the 
climate data from these two established AVAs to be relevant to the 
proposed Royal Slope AVA petition and is not including that data in 
this document.

                         Climate of the Proposed Royal Slope AVA and Surrounding Regions
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                Mean  annual                                      Number of days  Number of days
                                     air           Average        Cool-climate         with            with
   Weather station location      temperature       annual         viticulture      temperatures    temperatures
(direction from proposed AVA)     (degrees     growing degree    sustainability      below 32        above 95
                                 fahrenheit     days  (GDDs)   index \9\ (CCVSI)     degrees F       degrees F
                                    (F))             \8\                             annually        annually
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Royal Slope East, (within                52.2           2,951                242              79               9
 proposed AVA)...............
Royal City East, (within                 51.4           2,776                232              89               7
 proposed AVA)...............
Royal City West, (within                 51.8           2,978                229              95              12
 proposed AVA)...............
Broadview (west).............            47.2           1,940                159             161               6
Othello (east)...............            50.3           2,522                204             107               7
Frenchman Hills, (north).....            50.1           2,484                207             118               6
Quincy (north)...............            50.7           2,807                242              95               2
Desert Aire (south)..........            54.7           3,518                260              77              23
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Within the proposed Royal Slope AVA, the mean annual air 
temperature is slightly warmer than temperatures in the regions to the 
north, east, and west, and slightly cooler than in the region to the 
south. The petition describes the temperatures within the proposed AVA 
as warm but not excessively hot, making it a suitable climate for 
growing a variety of red and white varietals of Vitis vinifera grapes, 
including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Riesling.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ In the Winkler climate classification system, annual heat 
accumulation during the growing season, measured in annual growing 
degree days (GDDs), 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. See 
Albert J. Winkler, General Viticulture (Berkeley: University of 
California Press, 1974), pages 61-64.
    \9\ CCVSI represents the number of days between the last 
temperature below 29 degrees F in the spring and the first 
temperature below 29 degrees F in the fall.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The GDD totals from within the proposed AVA show a more significant 
difference between the climate of the proposed AVA and the surrounding 
regions. Two of the three stations within the proposed AVA have greater 
GDD totals than all of the surrounding regions except the region to the 
south, while the third station's GDD total is greater than all the 
surrounding regions except the region to the south and the Quincy 
station to the north. According to the petition, all three stations 
within the proposed AVA are classified as being within the Winkler 
Region II, which includes regions with GDD totals between 2,501 and 
3,000. The petition states that locations classified as Winkler Region 
II are suitable for growing all but the latest of the late-ripening 
grape varietals.
    The average CCVSI number for the three locations within the 
proposed Royal Slope AVA is 234, indicating a long growing period 
without hard freezes. Only the region to the south has a greater CCVSI 
number than any of the stations within the proposed AVA, while the 
Quincy station to the north has the same CCVSI number as the warmest 
station within the proposed AVA. The remaining stations outside of the 
proposed AVA have, on average, CCVSI numbers indicating between 30 and 
70 fewer growing season days than the locations within the proposed 
AVA. According to the petition, larger CCVSI numbers correlate with 
better sites to fully ripen grapes.
    In addition to having a long period of time between hard freezes, 
the proposed AVA also has fewer days per year with temperatures below 
32 degrees Fahrenheit (F) than most of the surrounding regions. The 
only location with fewer days with temperatures below 32 degrees F than 
all of the locations within the proposed AVA is the region to the 
south. The Quincy station, to the north, has more days with 
temperatures below 32 degrees F than two of the stations within the 
proposed AVA and the same number of days with temperatures below 32 
degrees F as one of the stations. This data shows the proposed AVA is 
at less risk of vine-damaging freezes due to having a smaller number of 
days per year with temperatures below 32 degrees F than most of the 
surrounding regions.
    Finally, the petition included information about the number of days 
with temperatures above 95 degrees F within the proposed AVA and 
surrounding regions. The proposed AVA has an average of only 9 days a 
year with temperatures over 95 degrees F, whereas the region to the 
south is

[[Page 55078]]

significantly hotter, averaging 23 days a year. The regions to the 
north, east, and west all have fewer very hot days than the proposed 
AVA. The petition states that at temperatures above 95 degrees F, grape 
vines shut down photosynthesis, slowing or even stopping the synthesis 
of sugars and other ripening factors. As a result, harvest may be 
delayed into the fall, when seasonal rains or cold snaps could damage 
fruit still left on the vine.
    The petition also provided information on the average minimum 
nighttime temperature during veraison, mean minimum temperature, and 
mean annual wind run for each of the locations. However, because the 
petition did not discuss the viticultural effects of those aspects of 
climate, TTB was unable to determine if they were distinguishing 
features of the proposed AVA, and they are not discussed in this 
document. All of the climate data is available in the online docket for 
this proposed AVA, Docket No. TTB-2019-0008, at www.regulations.gov.
Topography
    The proposed Royal Slope AVA is located on the gentle, south-facing 
slopes of an east-west trending range of hills called the Frenchman 
Hills. Elevations within the proposed AVA range from 610 feet in the 
extreme southeastern portion of the proposed AVA to 1,756 feet in the 
extreme northeastern portion. The majority of the slope angles within 
the proposed AVA are less than 15 percent, but very few slopes have 
angles less than 3 percent. The slopes are gentle enough for 
agricultural purposes, including vineyards, and are not as freeze-prone 
as flatter terrains such as valley floors.
    To the north of the proposed AVA, the Frenchman Hills fall away to 
the Quincy Basin, a large, flat-floored valley. The portion of the 
Quincy Basin along the northeastern edge of the proposed AVA is also 
covered with sand dunes and ``pothole'' ponds that formed in the low 
areas between dune crests. This region of pothole ponds and dunes is 
also part of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area and is therefore 
unavailable for commercial agricultural purposes.
    To the east, south, and west of the proposed AVA are the Crab Creek 
Coulee and the canyon of the Columbia River, respectively. The 
topography of these regions is characterized by large areas of craggy, 
exposed bedrock with steep slopes that are mostly greater than 35 
percent. The petition describes Crab Creek Coulee as a ``moonscape of 
bedrock-dominated scabland'' that is suitable only for wildlife habitat 
and light livestock grazing. The floor of the coulee is significantly 
lower than the elevations within the proposed AVA, with the lowest 
point within the coulee being 490 feet. Along the Columbia River, the 
elevations are also lower than within the proposed AVA, and the terrain 
is generally too steep and rocky for cultivation. West of the Columbia 
River, the topography quickly rises to form the foothills of the 
Cascade Range, which has higher elevations and steeper slopes than the 
proposed AVA and lacks the climate, slope orientation, or soils 
suitable for cultivation.
Geology
    According to the petition, the entire Columbia Valley AVA, 
including the region of the proposed Royal Slope AVA, is underlain with 
Miocene-era basaltic bedrock and has been affected by Ice Age 
megafloods. However, the petition states that these floods affected the 
various sub-regions of the Columbia Valley AVA in different ways. For 
example, in the region of the proposed Royal Slope AVA, floodwaters 
followed flood channels to the east and northeast of the proposed AVA, 
within the Frenchman Hills. The waters entered the region in a 
relatively smooth fashion, and the proposed AVA remained largely above 
the floodwaters. As a result, the region of the proposed AVA was not 
heavily eroded and remained a landscape of gentle hills with deep soils 
suitable for cultivation.
    By contrast, the regions to the east and south of the proposed AVA 
were affected by very fast, deep, and turbulent flood waters that 
flowed into the valley separating the Frenchman Hills and the proposed 
Royal Slope AVA from the Saddle Mountains. As these fast-moving waters 
flowed through the narrow valley, they cut deeply into the landscape 
and formed the eroded ``scablands'' of the Crab Creek Coulee. Similarly 
strong floodwaters flowed through the Columbia River, to the west of 
the proposed AVA, and created a steep, deeply-scarred river canyon. To 
the north of the proposed AVA, the floodwaters flowed more gently and 
smoothly over the flat landscape of the Quincy Basin, depositing vast 
amounts of sand that formed depths of over 100 feet in places and 
creating a landscape of dunes and ``pothole'' lakes.
    Farther south of the Crab Creek Coulee is the established Wahluke 
Slope AVA (27 CFR 9.192) on the southern slopes of the Saddle 
Mountains. Although the Wahluke Slope AVA is a gently sloping region 
with a gently undulating surface, the petition states that the Wahluke 
Slope AVA has a different geologic history than the proposed Royal 
Slope AVA. According to the petition, the Wahluke Slope AVA is located 
on an alluvial fan or fan delta. The fan formed when the repeated Ice 
Age megafloods flowing in the many floodways and coulees around the 
region of the proposed Royal Slope AVA combined in the channel of the 
Columbia River and traveled south. These floodwaters then broke through 
a narrow watergap in the Saddle Mountains, known as Sentinel Gap. Since 
the gap is only about a mile wide, it restricted the flow of the 
floodwaters, which backed up to great depth upstream of the gap and 
eventually jetted through the gap with great force. The floodwaters 
carried sand, silt, cobbles, gravels, and boulders through the gap and 
deposited them in a widening fan-shaped triangle that formed the slope 
on which the Wahluke Slope AVA is located.
Soils
    The soils within the proposed Royal Slope AVA are a combination of 
sediments and soils from glacial floods and wind-blown post-glacial 
sand and silt (loess). The soils within the proposed AVA are generally 
deep enough for vines to extend their roots far into the soil before 
encountering bedrock or other impediment. The predominant soils are 
classified as Aridisols, which are characterized by loamy-to-sandy 
textures and very low amounts of humified organic material, so vine 
vigor is naturally low. The soils are also well drained and have 
naturally low soil moisture, so growers can easily control vine 
development via the timing and amounts of drip irrigation applied 
during the growing season. The petition states that the major soil 
series are Warden, Sagemoor, Adkins, and Kennewick, which together 
comprise approximately 59 percent of the total soil in the proposed AVA 
and approximately 75 percent of the vineyard acreage.
    To the immediate east, west, and south of the proposed AVA are the 
scablands of the Crab Creek Coulee and the Columbia River Valley. In 
these regions, the Ice Age floodwaters stripped away most of the soil, 
leaving behind exposed bedrock. Normal erosion processes in post-
glacial times have continuously removed any loose soil materials, 
maintaining the scabland characteristics and leaving behind a rocky 
landscape unable to support agricultural activities.
    Farther south of the proposed AVA, within the established Wahluke 
Slope AVA, the soils are deep and fertile enough for agricultural 
purposes, including viticulture. However, the petition states that the 
soils of the

[[Page 55079]]

Wahluke Slope AVA are different from those of the proposed AVA. For 
example, the Adkins soil series, which is the most prominent soil 
series of the proposed AVA, is not found within the Wahluke Slope AVA. 
Instead, the most common soil series in the Wahluke Slope AVA is the 
Quincy soil series, which makes up 32.6 percent of the soils of the 
Wahluke Slope AVA but comprises less than 2 percent of the soils of the 
proposed Royal Slope AVA. Additionally, soils within the Wahluke Slope 
AVA are predominately classified as Entisols, rather than Aridisols. 
The petition states that Entisol soils are extremely well-drained due 
to their high sand content and are very susceptible to wind erosion. 
Although the soils of the Wahluke Slope AVA have been developed for 
viticulture, the petition states that vineyard owners with vines 
planted in Entisol soils face more challenges than owners of vineyards 
planted in Aridosol soils due to their ``extreme droughtiness'' and 
``extreme wind erosion hazard.''
    To the north of the proposed AVA, within the established Ancient 
Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA, the soils are also predominately 
Entisols. The Quincy soil series is also the most common soil series in 
this region, making up approximately 19 percent of the soils.

Summary of Distinguishing Features

    In summary, the climate, topography, geology, and soils of the 
proposed Royal Slope AVA distinguish it from the surrounding regions. 
The following table summarizes the differences between the proposed AVA 
and the surrounding regions.

                                       Summary of Distinguishing Features
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Region                     Climate           Topography            Geology              Soils
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Proposed Royal Slope AVA........  Moderately warm     Rolling hills with  Remained            Deep, well-drained
                                   Winkler Region II   gentle south-       relatively          soils derived
                                   with a long         facing slopes.      untouched by Ice    from glacial
                                   growing season.                         Age floods;         sediments and
                                                                           little exposed      loess;
                                                                           bedrock.            predominately
                                                                                               Aridisols of the
                                                                                               Adkins soil
                                                                                               series.
North...........................  Slightly cooler     Large, flat-        Ice Age floods      Sandy soils;
                                   temperatures with   floored valley      deposited large     predominately
                                   generally shorter   with regions of     quantities of       Entisols of the
                                   growing season.     sand dunes and      sand and formed     Quincy soil
                                                       ``pothole'' ponds.  ``pothole'' ponds.  series.
East............................  Slightly cooler     Rocky, steep-sided  Deeply eroded by    Very little soil
                                   temperatures with   ``scabland''        Ice Age floods,     due to erosion.
                                   shorter growing     coulee.             leaving behind
                                   season.                                 large quantities
                                                                           of exposed
                                                                           bedrock.
South...........................  Significantly       Rocky, steep-sided  To the immediate    To the immediate
                                   warmer              ``scabland''        south, deeply       south, very
                                   temperatures with   coulee to           eroded by Ice Age   little soil due
                                   longer growing      immediate south;    floods, leaving     to erosion; in
                                   season.             gently sloping      behind large        Wahluke Slope
                                                       terrain farther     quantities of       AVA, sandy soils,
                                                       south in Wahluke    exposed bedrock;    including
                                                       Slope AVA.          farther south,      Entisols of the
                                                                           the Wahluke Slope   Quincy soil
                                                                           AVA is an           series.
                                                                           alluvial fan
                                                                           created by Ice
                                                                           Age floods.
West............................  Significantly       Rocky, steep-sided  Deeply eroded by    Very little soil
                                   cooler              canyon of the       Ice Age floods,     due to erosion.
                                   temperatures with   Columbia River;     leaving behind
                                   significantly       farther west, the   large quantities
                                   shorter growing     rugged slopes of    of exposed
                                   season.             the Cascade Range.  bedrock.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Comparison of the Proposed Royal Slope AVA to the Existing Columbia 
Valley AVA

    T.D. ATF-190, which published in the Federal Register on November 
13, 1984 (49 FR 44895), established the Columbia Valley AVA in central 
Washington and the north-central portion of Oregon. The Columbia Valley 
AVA is described in T.D. ATF-190 as a large, treeless basin of 
undulating hills surrounding the Snake, Yakima, and Columbia Rivers 
within the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains. The climate of the 
Columbia Valley AVA is characterized by a growing season length of over 
150 days and annual rainfall totals of 15 inches or less.
    The proposed Royal Slope AVA is located in the western central 
portion of the Columbia Valley AVA and shares some broad 
characteristics with the established AVA. For example, the proposed AVA 
is also a treeless region of undulating hills and is adjacent to the 
Columbia River. Additionally, the growing season of the proposed AVA is 
longer than 150 days, with an average growing season length of 234 
days. Furthermore, although precipitation is not a distinguishing 
feature of the proposed AVA, the petition notes that annual rainfall 
amounts within the proposed Royal Slope AVA average 6.5 inches, which 
is within the range of the annual precipitation amounts for the 
Columbia Valley AVA. However, the smaller proposed AVA is much more 
uniform in its climate, topography, geology, and soils than the much 
larger established Columbia Valley. For example, the proposed Royal 
Slope AVA does not contain any ``scablands'' or other regions with 
large amounts of exposed bedrock. The proposed AVA also has a more 
limited variety of soils than the more diverse Columbia Valley AVA.

TTB Determination

    TTB concludes that the petition to establish the approximately 
156,389-acre Royal Slope AVA merits consideration and public comment, 
as invited in this notice of proposed rulemaking.

Boundary Description

    See the narrative description of the boundary of the petitioned-for 
AVA in the proposed regulatory text published at the end of this 
proposed rule.

[[Page 55080]]

Maps

    The petitioner provided the required maps, and they are listed 
below in the proposed 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, 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 Sec.  4.25(e)(3) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(3)). 
If the wine is not eligible for 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 Sec.  4.39(i)(2) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 
4.39(i)(2)) for details.
    If TTB establishes this proposed AVA, its name, ``Royal Slope,'' 
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 
proposed regulation clarifies this point. Consequently, wine bottlers 
using the name ``Royal Slope'' in a brand name, including a trademark, 
or in another label reference as to the origin of the wine, would have 
to ensure that the product is eligible to use the AVA name as an 
appellation of origin if this proposed rule is adopted as a final rule.
    The approval of the proposed Royal Slope AVA would not affect any 
existing AVA, and any bottlers using ``Columbia Valley'' as an 
appellation of origin or in a brand name for wines made from grapes 
grown within the Royal Slope AVA would not be affected by the 
establishment of this new AVA. The establishment of the proposed Royal 
Slope AVA would allow vintners to use ``Royal Slope'' and ``Columbia 
Valley'' as appellations of origin for wines made from grapes grown 
within the proposed Royal Slope AVA, if the wines meet the eligibility 
requirements for the appellation.

Public Participation

Comments Invited

    TTB invites comments from interested members of the public on 
whether it should establish the proposed AVA. TTB is also interested in 
receiving comments on the sufficiency and accuracy of the name, 
boundary, soils, climate, and other required information submitted in 
support of the petition. In addition, given the proposed Royal Slope 
AVA's location within the existing Columbia Valley AVA, TTB is 
interested in comments on whether the evidence submitted in the 
petition regarding the distinguishing features of the proposed AVA 
sufficiently differentiates it from the existing Columbia Valley AVA. 
TTB is also interested in comments on whether the geographic features 
of the proposed AVA are so distinguishable from the surrounding 
Columbia Valley AVA that the proposed Royal Slope AVA should no longer 
be part of that AVA. Please provide any available specific information 
in support of your comments.
    Because of the potential impact of the establishment of the 
proposed Royal Slope AVA on wine labels that include the term ``Royal 
Slope'' as discussed above under Impact on Current Wine Labels, TTB is 
particularly interested in comments regarding whether there will be a 
conflict between the proposed AVA name and currently used brand names. 
If a commenter believes that a conflict will arise, the comment should 
describe the nature of that conflict, including any anticipated 
negative economic impact that approval of the proposed AVA will have on 
an existing viticultural enterprise. TTB is also interested in 
receiving suggestions for ways to avoid conflicts, for example, by 
adopting a modified or different name for the AVA.

Submitting Comments

    You may submit comments on this notice by using one of the 
following three methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: You may send comments via the 
online comment form posted with this notice within Docket No. TTB-2019-
0008 on ``Regulations.gov,'' the Federal e-rulemaking portal, at 
https://www.regulations.gov. A direct link to that docket is available 
under Notice No. 186 on the TTB website at https://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine_rulemaking.shtml">https://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine_rulemaking.shtml. Supplemental files may be attached to comments 
submitted via Regulations.gov. For complete instructions on how to use 
Regulations.gov, visit the site and click on the ``Help'' tab.
     U.S. Mail: You may send comments via postal mail to the 
Director, Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and 
Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW, Box 12, Washington, DC 20005.
     Hand Delivery/Courier: You may hand-carry your comments or 
have them hand-carried to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 
1310 G Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005.
    Please submit your comments by the closing date shown above in this 
notice. Your comments must reference Notice No. 186 and include your 
name and mailing address. Your comments also must be made in English, 
be legible, and be written in language acceptable for public 
disclosure. TTB does not acknowledge receipt of comments, and TTB 
considers all comments as originals.
    In your comment, please clearly state if you are commenting for 
yourself or on behalf of an association, business, or other entity. If 
you are commenting on behalf of an entity, your comment must include 
the entity's name, as well as your name and position title. If you 
comment via Regulations.gov, please enter the entity's name in the 
``Organization'' blank of the online comment form. If you comment via 
postal mail or hand delivery/courier, please submit your entity's 
comment on letterhead.
    You may also write to the Administrator before the comment closing 
date to ask for a public hearing. The Administrator reserves the right 
to determine whether to hold a public hearing.

Confidentiality

    All submitted comments and attachments are part of the public 
record and subject to disclosure. Do not enclose any material in your 
comments that you consider to be confidential or inappropriate for 
public disclosure.

Public Disclosure

    TTB will post, and you may view, copies of this notice, selected 
supporting materials, and any online or mailed comments received about 
this proposal within Docket No. TTB-2019-0008 on the Federal e-
rulemaking portal, Regulations.gov, at https://www.regulations.gov. A 
direct link to that docket is available on the TTB website at https://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine_rulemaking.shtml under Notice No. 186. You may 
also reach the relevant docket through the Regulations.gov search page 
at https://www.regulations.gov. For information on how to use 
Regulations.gov, click on the site's ``Help'' tab.
    All posted comments will display the commenter's name, organization 
(if any), city, and State, and, in the case of

[[Page 55081]]

mailed comments, all address information, including email addresses. 
TTB may omit voluminous attachments or material that the Bureau 
considers unsuitable for posting.
    You may also view copies of this notice, all related petitions, 
maps and other supporting materials, and any electronic or mailed 
comments that TTB receives about this proposal by appointment at the 
TTB Information Resource Center, 1310 G Street NW, Suite 400, 
Washington, DC 20005. You may also obtain copies at 20 cents per 8.5- x 
11-inch page. Please note that TTB is unable to provide copies of USGS 
maps or other similarly-sized documents that may be included as part of 
the AVA petition. Contact TTB's Regulations and Rulings Division at the 
above address, by email at https://www.ttb.gov/webforms/contact_RRD.shtm, or by telephone at 202-453-1039, ext. 175, to 
schedule an appointment or to request copies of comments or other 
materials.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    TTB certifies that this proposed regulation, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The proposed regulation imposes no new reporting, 
recordkeeping, or other administrative requirement. Any benefit derived 
from the use of a viticultural area 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 proposed 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

    Karen A. Thornton of the Regulations and Rulings Division drafted 
this notice of proposed rulemaking.

List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 9

    Wine.

Proposed Regulatory Amendment

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, TTB proposes to amend 
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. Add Sec.  9. __ to read as follows: Sec.  9. __Royal Slope.
    (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this 
section is ``Royal Slope''. For purposes of part 4 of this chapter, 
``Royal Slope'' is a term of viticultural significance.
    (b) Approved maps. The one United States Geological Survey (USGS) 
1:100,000 scale topographic map used to determine the boundary of the 
Royal Slope viticultural area is ``Priest Rapids, WA,'' 2015.
    (c) Boundary. The Royal Slope viticultural area is located in Grant 
and Adams Counties in Washington. The boundary of the Royal Slope 
viticultural area is as described in paragraphs (c)(1) through (17) of 
this section:
    (1) The point of the beginning is on the Priest Rapids map at the 
intersection of the 250 meter elevation contour and the northern 
boundary of Section 8, T17N/R23E. From the beginning point, proceed 
east for approximately 7 miles along the northern boundaries of 
Sections 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, T17N/R23E, and Sections 7 and 8, T17N/
R24E to the northeast corner of Section 8, T17N/R24E; then
    (2) Proceed south for approximately 1 mile along the eastern 
boundary of Section 8 to the southeast corner of Section 8, T17N/R24 E; 
then
    (3) Proceed east for approximately 4 miles along the southern 
boundaries of Sections 9, 10, 11, and 12, T17N/R24E, to the 
southeastern corner of Section 12, T17N/R24E; then
    (4) Proceed north for approximately 1.8 miles along the eastern 
boundaries of Sections 12 and 1, T17N/R24E, to the intersection of the 
eastern boundary of Section 1 and the southern boundary of the Desert 
Unit of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area; then
    (5) Proceed easterly for approximately 20 miles along the boundary 
of the Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area to the 
intersection of the wildlife area boundary with O'Sullivan Dam Road/
State Highway 262; then
    (6) Proceed east for approximately 1.5 miles along O'Sullivan Dam 
Road/State Highway 262 to the intersection of the road with an unnamed 
road known locally as H Road SE; then
    (7) Proceed southeasterly for approximately 1.6 miles along H Road 
SE to the intersection of the road with the southern boundary of 
Section 16, T17N/R28E; then
    (8) Proceed east for approximately 0.4 mile along the southern 
boundary of Section 16 to the intersection of the southeastern corner 
of Section 16, T17N/R28E, and the western boundary of the Columbia 
National Wildlife Refuge; then
    (9) Proceed southerly, then southwesterly, for approximately 8 
miles along the western boundary of the Columbia National Wildlife 
Refuge and the concurrent western boundary of the Goose Lakes Unit of 
the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area to the intersection of the 
wildlife refuge boundary with the eastern boundary of Section 14, T16N/
R27E; then
    (10) Proceed south along the eastern boundaries of Sections 14, 23, 
26, and 35, T16N/R27E, to the intersection of the eastern boundary of 
Section 35 with State Highway 26; then
    (11) Proceed northwesterly for approximately 3 miles along State 
Highway 26 to the intersection of the highway with the 250-meter 
elevation contour in the southwest corner of Section 21, T16/R27E; then
    (12) Proceed westerly for approximately 28 miles along the 250-
meter elevation contour to the intersection of the elevation contour 
with the eastern boundary of Section 26, T16N/R23E; then
    (13) Proceed north for approximately 1,100 feet along the eastern 
boundary of Section 26 to the northeast corner of Section 26, T16N/
R23E; then
    (14) Proceed west for 1 mile along the northern boundary of Section 
26, T16N/R23E, to the intersection with the eastern boundary of Section 
22, T16N/R23E; then
    (15) Proceed north for 1 mile along the eastern boundary of Section 
22 to the northern boundary of Section 22, T16N/R23E; then
    (16) Proceed west for approximately 1.05 miles along the northern 
boundary of Section 22, T16N/R23E, to the intersection of the section 
boundary with the 250-meter elevation contour; then
    (17) Proceed northerly for approximately 10 miles along the 250-
meter elevation contour to return to the beginning point.

    Signed: July 10, 2019.
Mary G. Ryan,
Acting Administrator.

    Approved: September 23, 2019.
Timothy E. Skud,
Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax, Trade, and Tariff Policy).
[FR Doc. 2019-22266 Filed 10-11-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4810-31-P