Proposed Expansion of the Clarksburg Viticultural Area, 71722-71726 [2020-24140]

Download as PDF 71722 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 218 / Tuesday, November 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau 27 CFR Part 9 [Docket No. TTB–2020–0013; Notice No. 198] RIN 1513–AC62 Proposed Expansion of the Clarksburg Viticultural Area Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking. AGENCY: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) proposes to expand the approximately 64,640-acre ‘‘Clarksburg’’ viticultural area by approximately 27,945 acres. The Clarksburg viticultural area is located in Sacramento, Solano, and Yolo Counties, in California, and the proposed expansion area is located in Sacramento and Solano Counties. The established Clarksburg viticultural area and the proposed expansion area are not located within any established 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 amendment to its regulations. DATES: Comments must be received by January 11, 2021. 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–2020–0013 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 or U.S. mail 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: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 SUMMARY: Background on Viticultural Areas TTB Authority Section 105(e) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), 27 VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:17 Nov 09, 2020 Jkt 253001 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 the functions and duties in the administration and enforcement of these provisions to the TTB Administrator through Treasury Order 120–01, dated December 10, 2013 (superseding Treasury Order 120–01, dated January 24, 2003). 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 the establishment of an AVA and provides that any interested party may petition TTB to establish a grape-growing region as an AVA. Petitioners may use the same procedures to request changes involving existing AVAs. Section 9.12(c) PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 9.12(c)) prescribes standards for petitions for modifying established AVAs. Petitions to expand an established AVA must include the following: • Evidence that the region within the proposed expansion area is nationally or locally known by the name of the established AVA; • An explanation of the basis for defining the boundary of the proposed expansion area; • A narrative description of the features of the proposed expansion area affecting viticulture, including climate, geology, soils, physical features, and elevation, that make the proposed expansion area similar to the established AVA and distinguish it from adjacent areas outside the established AVA boundary; • The appropriate United States Geological Survey (USGS) map(s) showing the location of the proposed expansion area, with the boundary of the proposed expansion area clearly drawn thereon; and • A detailed narrative description of the proposed expansion area boundary based on USGS map markings. Petition To Expand the Clarksburg AVA TTB received a petition from James Reamer of Reamer Farms vineyard, submitted on behalf of himself and other wine industry members, proposing to expand the established ‘‘Clarksburg’’ AVA. The Clarksburg AVA (27 CFR 9.95) was established by T.D. ATF–166, which published in the Federal Register on January 23, 1984 (49 FR 2758). The Clarksburg AVA covers approximately 64,640 acres in Sacramento, Solano, and Yolo Counties in California. The Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area are not located within any other AVA. Although the established Clarksburg AVA does contain the established Merritt Island AVA (27 CFR 9.68), the proposed expansion area is not adjacent to the Merritt Island AVA and therefore would not affect the boundaries of that AVA. The petition included a letter from the Clarksburg Winegrowers and Vintners Association supporting the proposed expansion. The proposed expansion area is adjacent to the southern portion of the established AVA and entirely encompasses Grand Island and Ryer Island, which together cover approximately 27,945 acres. The petitioner states that within the proposed expansion area there are 350 acres of grapevines on Grand Island and three vineyards on Ryer Island. Unless otherwise noted, all information and data pertaining to the proposed E:\FR\FM\10NOP2.SGM 10NOP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 218 / Tuesday, November 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules which are within the proposed expansion area. expansion area contained in this document come from the petition and its supporting exhibits. Boundary Evidence Name Evidence jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 The expansion petition provides evidence that the name ‘‘Clarksburg’’ is used to describe a region larger than just the established Clarksburg AVA. For example, the petition included information on three limousine tour services offering tours of the Clarksburg region that each include at least one location within the proposed expansion area. Baja Limo’s ‘‘Clarksburg Wine Tour’’ offers a stop at the Grand Island Vineyard’s winery, which is located within the proposed expansion area on Grand Island.1 Limousine Service Sacramento’s ‘‘Clarksburg Wine Testing Tours’’ also offers a stop at the Grand Island Vineyard’s tasting room and Six Hands Winery.2 The Six Hands Winery is located on Andrus Island, which is adjacent to the eastern boundary of the proposed expansion area but outside of the established AVA. Although the winery is not within the established AVA or the proposed expansion area, its inclusion on the tour offers evidence that the region known as ‘‘Clarksburg’’ extends beyond the boundaries of the Clarksburg AVA. Finally, Exotic Limousine’s ‘‘Concord–Clarksburg Wine Tour’’ travels from ‘‘Concord and the East Bay area to [the] Clarksburg appellation,’’ which includes ‘‘some of the very best wedding venues like the Grand Island Mansion.’’ 3 TTB notes that the Grand Island Mansion is a historic site located within the proposed AVA expansion area. Other examples of the use of the name ‘‘Clarksburg’’ to describe the proposed expansion area includes a vacation rental listing. This listing is for a property on Grand Island, which is within the proposed expansion area, and is listed under the general heading of ‘‘Clarksburg.’’ 4 Grand Island Vineyards, which is within the proposed expansion area, is included in a list of Clarksburg wineries on the American Winery Guide website.5 Finally, a map created by the Clarksburg Wine Growers and Vintners Association titled ‘‘Clarksburg Appellation Wine Country’’ shows the established AVA as well as Grand Island and Ryer Island, 1 www.bajalimo.net/clarksburg-wine-tours. 2 www.limoservicesacramento.com/clarksburgwine-tasting-tours. 3 www.limoserviceconcord.com/Concord_ clarksburg_wine_tour.php. 4 www.vrbo.com/1311885. 5 www.americanwineryguide.com/regions/ clarksburg-ava-wineries. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:17 Nov 09, 2020 Jkt 253001 The established Clarksburg AVA is a roughly triangular region at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River. The lands within the Clarksburg AVA are mostly islands surrounded by rivers and/or sloughs. The Sacramento River Deep Water Ship Channel forms the majority of the western boundary, while the eastern boundary is formed by Interstate 5, a levee, and the Sacramento River. The southern boundary is formed by the Sacramento River, Steamboat Slough, Miner Slough, and Sutter Slough. To the north of the Clarksburg AVA is the city of Sacramento, which is too heavily urbanized for commercial viticulture. The proposed expansion area is adjacent to the southern boundary of the Clarksburg AVA and consists of Ryer Island and Grand Island. The proposed boundary expansion would begin on the current boundary at the intersection of Miner Slough and the levee connecting the slough to the Sacramento River Deep Water Ship Channel. Instead of continuing east along Miner Slough to Steamboat Slough, as the current boundary does, the proposed boundary expansion would proceed south along Miner Slough to its confluence with Cache Slough. The proposed boundary would then proceed south along the Cache Slough to its confluence with the Sacramento River and then eastnortheasterly along the Sacramento River to its intersection with the Delta Cross Channel and the Southern Pacific Railroad near Walnut Grove. At this point, the proposed expansion area boundary would rejoin the current Clarksburg AVA boundary. To the west of both the AVA and the proposed expansion area is the Yolo Bypass that diverts floodwaters away from the city of Sacramento. Because of its frequent flooding, the petition states that this region is suitable only for wildlife habitat and summer annual crops. To the east of the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area is the Central Valley. To the south of the proposed expansion area are Andrus Island and Brennan Island, both of which have a persistently high water table that makes the potential for vineyards unlikely. Distinguishing Features The petition states that the soils, climate, and topography of the proposed expansion area are similar to those of the established Clarksburg AVA. PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 71723 Soils T.D. ATF–166 describes the soils of the Clarksburg AVA as poorly drained clay and clay loam soils. Little information is given about the soils of the surrounding regions except that viticulture to the west of the AVA is made impossible due to the combination of soils and flooding, and that the soils to the south of the AVA contain poorly drained organic and mineral soils. The expansion petition provides more detailed information about the soils of the Clarksburg AVA and the surrounding regions. The expansion petition states that the lands within the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area readily fall into two groups: The alluvial fan–basin group and the flood plain–basin–blackswamp group. These landform groups influenced the development of the soils in the AVA. The alluvial fan–basin group lands are found mostly in the western portion of the Clarksburg AVA. Common soils found in these lands include the Lang, Laugenour, Maria, Merritt, Sycamore, Tyndall, and Valdez series. Egbert, Omni, Sacramento, and Willows soils are also present. The eastern portion of the Clarksburg AVA is characterized by flood plain–basin– blackswamp landforms. Soils commonly found in this region include the Columbia, Consumnes, Lang, Laugenour, Sailboat, and Valpac series, as well as Clear Lake, Dierssen, and Tinnin soils. The proposed expansion area contains both flood plain–basin–blackswamp landforms and alluvial fan–basin landforms. Grand Island, in the eastern portion of the proposed expansion area, consists mostly of flood plain–basin– blackswamp landforms. Soils found in both Grand Island and the Clarksburg AVA include the Consumnes, Egbert, Laugenour, and Sailboat series. Ryer Island, in the western portion of the proposed expansion area, contains alluvial fan–basin landforms. Soils of the Egbert, Sacramento, and Valdez series are found in both the Clarksburg AVA and Ryer Island. The expansion petition states that all of the soils of the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area share several characteristics, including low-tomoderate levels of organic material, poor to somewhat-poor drainage, and a combination of silt, clay, sand, and loam. Because of the poor drainage quality of the soils in both the proposed expansion area and the Clarksburg AVA, a well-placed and maintained system of ditches and canals is necessary, as are tile drains in some locations. The E:\FR\FM\10NOP2.SGM 10NOP2 71724 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 218 / Tuesday, November 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules drainage systems lower the water table and allow the vineyard root zones to become better aerated. As a result, a better environment is created for the bottom of the vine trunks and the major roots that originate for them. The petition states that ridges in the vine rows called berms also allow for better drainage and are common features in both the AVA and the proposed expansion area. Additionally, vineyard owners often use rootstocks with greater-than-average tolerances of wet soils in order to limit the risk of significant root dieback and root diseases. None of the alluvial fan–basin landform soils found in the proposed expansion area and the Clarksburg AVA are found in the regions to the east and south. These regions also contain a type of marshland soil called Rindge mucky silt loam, which is not found in either the Clarksburg AVA or the proposed expansion area. Furthermore, the soils to the east and south contain greater concentrations of organic matter. To the west of the proposed expansion area and the Clarksburg AVA, the common soils include the Capay and Pescadero series, which are not found in either the proposed expansion area or the AVA. Climate T.D. ATF–166 included precipitation as a distinguishing feature of the Clarksburg AVA, stating that the AVA received an average of 16 inches of rain annually. The regions to the north and east were described as having higher annual rainfall amounts, while the regions to the south and west had lower annual amounts. T.D. ATF–166 also briefly discussed temperature, noting that Sacramento, which is north of the Clarksburg AVA, is generally 8 to 10 degrees warmer than the AVA in the summer. The proposed expansion petition includes information about the average annual rainfall amounts of the Clarksburg AVA and the surrounding regions, which suggest that the Clarksburg AVA receives less rainfall annually than the surrounding regions. However, the petition did not include annual average rainfall amounts from within the proposed expansion area for comparison. The proposed expansion petition did include the growing season rainfall amounts 6 for a location on Ryer Island, within the proposed expansion area, and from within the Clarksburg AVA. The data shows that during the growing seasons from 2013 to 2017, the Ryer Island location received a total of 2.5 inches of rain, while the Clarksburg AVA location received 3.1 inches. However, the proposed expansion petition did not include growing season rainfall amounts from the surrounding regions for comparison, so TTB is unable to determine if the growing season rainfall amounts within the proposed expansion area are more similar to those of the Clarksburg AVA than to those of the surrounding regions. The expansion petition also provides more detailed information on temperatures in the region than what was included in T.D. ATF–166. The information on the growing season mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures from within the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area is included in the following table, and suggests that the climate of the proposed expansion area is similar to that of the Clarksburg AVA. The petition states that temperature within the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area are suitable for growing a variety of wine grapes, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. TABLE—GROWING SEASON TEMPERATURE AVERAGES IN DEGREES FAHRENHEIT Location Mean Maximum Minimum Within Clarksburg AVA Clarksburg 7 ................................................................................................................................. 67.7 85.8 52.3 Lake Winchester 8 ........................................................................................................................ 67.8 85.0 53.2 ................................................................................................................................ 68.7 85.1 53.3 Grand Island 10 ............................................................................................................................. 67.8 83.7 53.4 Within Proposed Expansion Area jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Ryer Island 9 The expansion petition also includes graphs showing the average growing season mean, minimum, and maximum temperatures gathered from the Western Regional Climate Center 11 for a weather station location within the Clarksburg AVA and 10 weather station locations in the surrounding regions. For each location, the data was collected from a minimum of 38 years, which provides a broad picture of the climate of the region.12 The graphs do not include data from within the proposed expansion area. However, the other data in the petition demonstrates that the proposed expansion area has temperatures similar to the Clarksburg AVA. Therefore, TTB believes that the Clarksburg location used in the graphs is an acceptable stand-in for the proposed expansion area for the purpose of comparison to the surrounding regions. The graphs show that the location within the Clarksburg AVA had the lowest growing season mean temperature of all the locations. Additionally, the Clarksburg location had a lower growing season maximum temperature than all but two of the locations and a lower average growing season minimum temperature than all but three of the locations. Most notably, the temperatures for the Clarksburg location were all lower than the temperatures for the two Sacramento weather stations, supporting the claim in T.D. ATF–166 that temperatures in the Clarksburg AVA are typically lower 6 The growing season is defined as April 1 through October 31. 7 Data source: Lodi Winegrape Commission via Western Weather Group, 2013–2017. https:// lodi.westernweathergroup.com. 8 Data source: Private weather station at Reamer Farms, 2012–2014, and Ranch Systems, 2016–2017. 9 Data source: Lodi Winegrape Commission via Western Weather Group, 2013–2017. https:// lodi.westernweathergroup.com. 10 Data source: Private weather station at Rio Viento Vineyard, 2012–2014, and Ranch Systems, 2016–2017. 11 www.wrcc.dri.edu. 12 For a listing of all weather station locations and the period of record for each, see Exhibit 9 of the expansion petition in Docket TTB–2020–0013 at www.regulations.gov. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:17 Nov 09, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\10NOP2.SGM 10NOP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 218 / Tuesday, November 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 than those in Sacramento to the north of the AVA. Topography T.D. ATF–166, which established the Clarksburg AVA, did not consider topography to be a distinguishing feature of the Clarksburg AVA, only noting that the ‘‘lower terraces to the east’’ of the AVA are prone to flooding.13 However, the expansion petition includes topographic information to demonstrate that the proposed expansion area is more topographically similar to the Clarksburg AVA than the surrounding regions outside the AVA. The petition includes a table of the highest and lowest elevations from locations within the Clarksburg AVA, which is north of the proposed expansion area, as well as from within the proposed expansion area and the regions to the south, west, and east. The expansion petition states that due to the low elevations throughout the Sacramento Delta, the islands once regularly flooded. The entire delta would flood periodically during spring tides and river floods, and the islands furthest downstream would flood daily during high tides. However, a system of levees, open ditches, and canals has made viticulture possible within the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area. Within the proposed expansion area, elevations range from a lowest point of 10 feet below sea level to a highest point of 5 feet above sea level. Within the current boundaries of the Clarksburg AVA, elevations range from 10 feet below sea level to 10 feet above sea level. By comparison, elevations in the surrounding regions are generally lower than within the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area. The region east of the proposed expansion area has elevations between 15 feet below sea level on Tyler Island and Staten Island, and 5 feet above sea level at the city of Walnut Grove and the upper portion of Andrus Island. To the south of both the AVA and proposed expansion area, elevations range from 20 feet below sea level to 0 feet above sea level. To the west of the proposed expansion area, elevations range from 5 feet below sea level on Liberty Island and the Egbert Tract Reclamation District to a high of 10 feet above sea level on the Egbert Tract. The petition states that the generally lower elevations in the surrounding regions also mean that the depths to water tables are appreciably shallower than within the AVA and the proposed expansion area. As a result, 13 48 FR 2759. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:17 Nov 09, 2020 Jkt 253001 functional root zones are very shallow, and the potential for viticulture in these regions is feasible but limited. Although topography was not considered to be a distinguishing feature of the Clarksburg AVA in T.D. ATF–166, we are including a discussion of topography in this proposed rule because TTB agrees that the range of elevations within the proposed expansion area appears to be similar to that of the Clarksburg AVA. The data in the expansion petition suggests that the regions to the south and east have lower elevations than both the proposed expansion area and the Clarksburg AVA. While the data indicates that the elevations to the west of the proposed expansion area are within the range of those of the Clarksburg AVA, the frequency of flooding in the Yolo Bypass would be a logical reason for not including it in the proposed expansion area. TTB is seeking comment on whether the topography of the proposed expansion area provides additional support for including the proposed expansion area in the established AVA. TTB Determination TTB concludes that the petition to expand the boundaries of the established Clarksburg 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 expansion area in the proposed regulatory text published at the end of this proposed rule. Maps The proposed boundary change to the Clarksburg AVA would affect the portion of the current AVA boundary shown on the 1:24,000 scale Liberty Island, Isleton, and Courtland quadrangle maps, and would add the 1:24,000 scale Rio Vista quadrangle map to the list of maps in the regulatory text of 27 CFR 9.95. The petitioner included copies of these maps in the expansion petition. You may also view a map of the proposed expansion of the Clarksburg AVA boundary on the AVA Map Explorer on the TTB website, at https://www.ttb.gov/wine/ava-mapexplorer. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 71725 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. The approval of the proposed expansion of the Clarksburg AVA would not affect any other existing viticultural area, including the established Merritt Island AVA, which is located within the Clarksburg AVA. The proposed expansion of the Clarksburg AVA would allow vintners to use ‘‘Clarksburg’’ as an appellation of origin for wines made primarily from grapes grown within the proposed expansion area if the wines meet the eligibility requirements for the appellation. The proposed AVA expansion would not affect any vintners using ‘‘Merritt Island’’ as an appellation of origin on wine labels. Public Participation Comments Invited TTB invites comments from interested members of the public on whether it should expand the Clarksburg AVA as proposed. TTB is specifically interested in receiving comments on the similarity of the proposed expansion area to the established Clarksburg AVA, as well as the differences between the proposed expansion area and the areas outside the Clarksburg AVA. Please provide specific information in support of your comments. Submitting Comments You may submit comments on this notice of proposed rulemaking by using one of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: You may send comments via the online comment form posted with this notice within Docket No. TTB–2020–0013 on ‘‘Regulations.gov,’’ the Federal erulemaking portal, at http:// www.regulations.gov. A direct link to that docket is available under Notice No. 198 on the TTB website at https:// www.ttb.gov/wine/winerulemaking.shtml. Supplemental files may be attached to comments submitted E:\FR\FM\10NOP2.SGM 10NOP2 71726 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 218 / Tuesday, November 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules 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. Please submit your comments by the closing date shown above in this notice. Your comments must reference Notice No. 198 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. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 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–2020– 0013 on the Federal e-rulemaking portal, Regulations.gov, at http:// 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. 198. You may also reach the relevant docket through the Regulations.gov search page at http:// www.regulations.gov. For information on how to use Regulations.gov, click on the website’s ‘‘Help’’ tab. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:17 Nov 09, 2020 Jkt 253001 All posted comments will display the commenter’s name, organization (if any), city, and State, and, in the case of 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 obtain copies of this proposed rule, all related petitions, maps and other supporting materials, and any electronic or mailed comments that TTB receives about this proposal at 20 cents per 8.5- x 11-inch page. Please note that TTB is unable to provide copies of USGS maps or any similarlysized documents that may be included as part of the AVA petition. Contact TTB’s Regulations and Rulings Division by email using the web form at https:// www.ttb.gov/contact-rrd, or by telephone at 202–453–1039, ext. 175, 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 an AVA name would be the result of a proprietor’s efforts and consumer acceptance of wines from that area. Therefore, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required. Executive Order 12866 It has been determined that this 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 1. The authority citation for part 9 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 27 U.S.C. 205. PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Subpart C—Approved American Viticultural Areas 2. Section 9.95 is amended by adding paragraph (b)(9), revising paragraphs (c)(4) and (5), redesignating paragraphs (c)(6) through (12) as paragraphs (c)(7) through (13), and adding new paragraph(c)(6) to read as follows: ■ § 9.95 Clarksburg. * * * * * (b) * * * (9) Rio Vista, Calif., 1978 (minor revision 1993). (c) * * * (4) Then south along Miner Slough to the point where it joins Cache Slough. (5) Then south along Cache Slough to the point where it joins the Sacramento River. (6) Then east, then generally northeasterly along the meandering Sacramento River to the point where it meets the Delta Cross Channel at the Southern Pacific Railroad. * * * * * Signed: September 5, 2020. Mary G. Ryan, Administrator. Approved: October 9, 2020. Timothy E. Skud, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax, Trade, and Tariff Policy). [FR Doc. 2020–24140 Filed 11–9–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810–31–P DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau 27 CFR Part 9 [Docket No. TTB–2020–0014; Notice No. 199] RIN 1513–AC65 Proposed Establishment of the Ulupalakua Viticultural Area Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking. AGENCY: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) proposes to establish the approximately 70-acre ‘‘Ulupalakua’’ viticultural area on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The proposed viticultural area is not within any other established 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. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\10NOP2.SGM 10NOP2

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 218 (Tuesday, November 10, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 71722-71726]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-24140]



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27 CFR Part 9





Proposed Expansion of the Clarksburg Viticultural Area and 
Establishment of the Ulupalakua Viticultural Area; Proposed Rules

Federal Register / Vol. 85 , No. 218 / Tuesday, November 10, 2020 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

27 CFR Part 9

[Docket No. TTB-2020-0013; Notice No. 198]
RIN 1513-AC62


Proposed Expansion of the Clarksburg 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 
expand the approximately 64,640-acre ``Clarksburg'' viticultural area 
by approximately 27,945 acres. The Clarksburg viticultural area is 
located in Sacramento, Solano, and Yolo Counties, in California, and 
the proposed expansion area is located in Sacramento and Solano 
Counties. The established Clarksburg viticultural area and the proposed 
expansion area are not located within any established 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 
amendment to its regulations.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 11, 2021.

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-2020-0013 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 or U.S. mail 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 the functions 
and duties in the administration and enforcement of these provisions to 
the TTB Administrator through Treasury Order 120-01, dated December 10, 
2013 (superseding Treasury Order 120-01, dated January 24, 2003).
    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 the establishment of an AVA and 
provides that any interested party may petition TTB to establish a 
grape-growing region as an AVA. Petitioners may use the same procedures 
to request changes involving existing AVAs. Section 9.12(c) of the TTB 
regulations (27 CFR 9.12(c)) prescribes standards for petitions for 
modifying established AVAs. Petitions to expand an established AVA must 
include the following:
     Evidence that the region within the proposed expansion 
area is nationally or locally known by the name of the established AVA;
     An explanation of the basis for defining the boundary of 
the proposed expansion area;
     A narrative description of the features of the proposed 
expansion area affecting viticulture, including climate, geology, 
soils, physical features, and elevation, that make the proposed 
expansion area similar to the established AVA and distinguish it from 
adjacent areas outside the established AVA boundary;
     The appropriate United States Geological Survey (USGS) 
map(s) showing the location of the proposed expansion area, with the 
boundary of the proposed expansion area clearly drawn thereon; and
     A detailed narrative description of the proposed expansion 
area boundary based on USGS map markings.

Petition To Expand the Clarksburg AVA

    TTB received a petition from James Reamer of Reamer Farms vineyard, 
submitted on behalf of himself and other wine industry members, 
proposing to expand the established ``Clarksburg'' AVA. The Clarksburg 
AVA (27 CFR 9.95) was established by T.D. ATF-166, which published in 
the Federal Register on January 23, 1984 (49 FR 2758). The Clarksburg 
AVA covers approximately 64,640 acres in Sacramento, Solano, and Yolo 
Counties in California. The Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion 
area are not located within any other AVA. Although the established 
Clarksburg AVA does contain the established Merritt Island AVA (27 CFR 
9.68), the proposed expansion area is not adjacent to the Merritt 
Island AVA and therefore would not affect the boundaries of that AVA. 
The petition included a letter from the Clarksburg Winegrowers and 
Vintners Association supporting the proposed expansion.
    The proposed expansion area is adjacent to the southern portion of 
the established AVA and entirely encompasses Grand Island and Ryer 
Island, which together cover approximately 27,945 acres. The petitioner 
states that within the proposed expansion area there are 350 acres of 
grapevines on Grand Island and three vineyards on Ryer Island. Unless 
otherwise noted, all information and data pertaining to the proposed

[[Page 71723]]

expansion area contained in this document come from the petition and 
its supporting exhibits.

Name Evidence

    The expansion petition provides evidence that the name 
``Clarksburg'' is used to describe a region larger than just the 
established Clarksburg AVA. For example, the petition included 
information on three limousine tour services offering tours of the 
Clarksburg region that each include at least one location within the 
proposed expansion area. Baja Limo's ``Clarksburg Wine Tour'' offers a 
stop at the Grand Island Vineyard's winery, which is located within the 
proposed expansion area on Grand Island.\1\ Limousine Service 
Sacramento's ``Clarksburg Wine Testing Tours'' also offers a stop at 
the Grand Island Vineyard's tasting room and Six Hands Winery.\2\ The 
Six Hands Winery is located on Andrus Island, which is adjacent to the 
eastern boundary of the proposed expansion area but outside of the 
established AVA. Although the winery is not within the established AVA 
or the proposed expansion area, its inclusion on the tour offers 
evidence that the region known as ``Clarksburg'' extends beyond the 
boundaries of the Clarksburg AVA. Finally, Exotic Limousine's 
``Concord-Clarksburg Wine Tour'' travels from ``Concord and the East 
Bay area to [the] Clarksburg appellation,'' which includes ``some of 
the very best wedding venues like the Grand Island Mansion.'' \3\ TTB 
notes that the Grand Island Mansion is a historic site located within 
the proposed AVA expansion area.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ www.bajalimo.net/clarksburg-wine-tours.
    \2\ www.limoservicesacramento.com/clarksburg-wine-tasting-tours.
    \3\ www.limoserviceconcord.com/Concord_clarksburg_wine_tour.php.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Other examples of the use of the name ``Clarksburg'' to describe 
the proposed expansion area includes a vacation rental listing. This 
listing is for a property on Grand Island, which is within the proposed 
expansion area, and is listed under the general heading of 
``Clarksburg.'' \4\ Grand Island Vineyards, which is within the 
proposed expansion area, is included in a list of Clarksburg wineries 
on the American Winery Guide website.\5\ Finally, a map created by the 
Clarksburg Wine Growers and Vintners Association titled ``Clarksburg 
Appellation Wine Country'' shows the established AVA as well as Grand 
Island and Ryer Island, which are within the proposed expansion area.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ www.vrbo.com/1311885.
    \5\ www.americanwineryguide.com/regions/clarksburg-ava-wineries.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Boundary Evidence

    The established Clarksburg AVA is a roughly triangular region at 
the confluence of the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River. The 
lands within the Clarksburg AVA are mostly islands surrounded by rivers 
and/or sloughs. The Sacramento River Deep Water Ship Channel forms the 
majority of the western boundary, while the eastern boundary is formed 
by Interstate 5, a levee, and the Sacramento River. The southern 
boundary is formed by the Sacramento River, Steamboat Slough, Miner 
Slough, and Sutter Slough. To the north of the Clarksburg AVA is the 
city of Sacramento, which is too heavily urbanized for commercial 
viticulture.
    The proposed expansion area is adjacent to the southern boundary of 
the Clarksburg AVA and consists of Ryer Island and Grand Island. The 
proposed boundary expansion would begin on the current boundary at the 
intersection of Miner Slough and the levee connecting the slough to the 
Sacramento River Deep Water Ship Channel. Instead of continuing east 
along Miner Slough to Steamboat Slough, as the current boundary does, 
the proposed boundary expansion would proceed south along Miner Slough 
to its confluence with Cache Slough. The proposed boundary would then 
proceed south along the Cache Slough to its confluence with the 
Sacramento River and then east-northeasterly along the Sacramento River 
to its intersection with the Delta Cross Channel and the Southern 
Pacific Railroad near Walnut Grove. At this point, the proposed 
expansion area boundary would rejoin the current Clarksburg AVA 
boundary.
    To the west of both the AVA and the proposed expansion area is the 
Yolo Bypass that diverts floodwaters away from the city of Sacramento. 
Because of its frequent flooding, the petition states that this region 
is suitable only for wildlife habitat and summer annual crops. To the 
east of the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area is the 
Central Valley. To the south of the proposed expansion area are Andrus 
Island and Brennan Island, both of which have a persistently high water 
table that makes the potential for vineyards unlikely.

Distinguishing Features

    The petition states that the soils, climate, and topography of the 
proposed expansion area are similar to those of the established 
Clarksburg AVA.
Soils
    T.D. ATF-166 describes the soils of the Clarksburg AVA as poorly 
drained clay and clay loam soils. Little information is given about the 
soils of the surrounding regions except that viticulture to the west of 
the AVA is made impossible due to the combination of soils and 
flooding, and that the soils to the south of the AVA contain poorly 
drained organic and mineral soils.
    The expansion petition provides more detailed information about the 
soils of the Clarksburg AVA and the surrounding regions. The expansion 
petition states that the lands within the Clarksburg AVA and the 
proposed expansion area readily fall into two groups: The alluvial fan-
basin group and the flood plain-basin-blackswamp group. These landform 
groups influenced the development of the soils in the AVA. The alluvial 
fan-basin group lands are found mostly in the western portion of the 
Clarksburg AVA. Common soils found in these lands include the Lang, 
Laugenour, Maria, Merritt, Sycamore, Tyndall, and Valdez series. 
Egbert, Omni, Sacramento, and Willows soils are also present. The 
eastern portion of the Clarksburg AVA is characterized by flood plain-
basin-blackswamp landforms. Soils commonly found in this region include 
the Columbia, Consumnes, Lang, Laugenour, Sailboat, and Valpac series, 
as well as Clear Lake, Dierssen, and Tinnin soils.
    The proposed expansion area contains both flood plain-basin-
blackswamp landforms and alluvial fan-basin landforms. Grand Island, in 
the eastern portion of the proposed expansion area, consists mostly of 
flood plain-basin-blackswamp landforms. Soils found in both Grand 
Island and the Clarksburg AVA include the Consumnes, Egbert, Laugenour, 
and Sailboat series. Ryer Island, in the western portion of the 
proposed expansion area, contains alluvial fan-basin landforms. Soils 
of the Egbert, Sacramento, and Valdez series are found in both the 
Clarksburg AVA and Ryer Island.
    The expansion petition states that all of the soils of the 
Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area share several 
characteristics, including low-to-moderate levels of organic material, 
poor to somewhat-poor drainage, and a combination of silt, clay, sand, 
and loam. Because of the poor drainage quality of the soils in both the 
proposed expansion area and the Clarksburg AVA, a well-placed and 
maintained system of ditches and canals is necessary, as are tile 
drains in some locations. The

[[Page 71724]]

drainage systems lower the water table and allow the vineyard root 
zones to become better aerated. As a result, a better environment is 
created for the bottom of the vine trunks and the major roots that 
originate for them. The petition states that ridges in the vine rows 
called berms also allow for better drainage and are common features in 
both the AVA and the proposed expansion area. Additionally, vineyard 
owners often use rootstocks with greater-than-average tolerances of wet 
soils in order to limit the risk of significant root dieback and root 
diseases.
    None of the alluvial fan-basin landform soils found in the proposed 
expansion area and the Clarksburg AVA are found in the regions to the 
east and south. These regions also contain a type of marshland soil 
called Rindge mucky silt loam, which is not found in either the 
Clarksburg AVA or the proposed expansion area. Furthermore, the soils 
to the east and south contain greater concentrations of organic matter. 
To the west of the proposed expansion area and the Clarksburg AVA, the 
common soils include the Capay and Pescadero series, which are not 
found in either the proposed expansion area or the AVA.
Climate
    T.D. ATF-166 included precipitation as a distinguishing feature of 
the Clarksburg AVA, stating that the AVA received an average of 16 
inches of rain annually. The regions to the north and east were 
described as having higher annual rainfall amounts, while the regions 
to the south and west had lower annual amounts. T.D. ATF-166 also 
briefly discussed temperature, noting that Sacramento, which is north 
of the Clarksburg AVA, is generally 8 to 10 degrees warmer than the AVA 
in the summer.
    The proposed expansion petition includes information about the 
average annual rainfall amounts of the Clarksburg AVA and the 
surrounding regions, which suggest that the Clarksburg AVA receives 
less rainfall annually than the surrounding regions. However, the 
petition did not include annual average rainfall amounts from within 
the proposed expansion area for comparison. The proposed expansion 
petition did include the growing season rainfall amounts \6\ for a 
location on Ryer Island, within the proposed expansion area, and from 
within the Clarksburg AVA. The data shows that during the growing 
seasons from 2013 to 2017, the Ryer Island location received a total of 
2.5 inches of rain, while the Clarksburg AVA location received 3.1 
inches. However, the proposed expansion petition did not include 
growing season rainfall amounts from the surrounding regions for 
comparison, so TTB is unable to determine if the growing season 
rainfall amounts within the proposed expansion area are more similar to 
those of the Clarksburg AVA than to those of the surrounding regions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ The growing season is defined as April 1 through October 31.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The expansion petition also provides more detailed information on 
temperatures in the region than what was included in T.D. ATF-166. The 
information on the growing season mean, maximum, and minimum 
temperatures from within the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion 
area is included in the following table, and suggests that the climate 
of the proposed expansion area is similar to that of the Clarksburg 
AVA. The petition states that temperature within the Clarksburg AVA and 
the proposed expansion area are suitable for growing a variety of wine 
grapes, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and  Chardonnay.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ Data source: Lodi Winegrape Commission via Western Weather 
Group, 2013-2017. https://lodi.westernweathergroup.com.
    \8\ Data source: Private weather station at Reamer Farms, 2012-
2014, and Ranch Systems, 2016-2017.
    \9\ Data source: Lodi Winegrape Commission via Western Weather 
Group, 2013-2017. https://lodi.westernweathergroup.com.
    \10\ Data source: Private weather station at Rio Viento 
Vineyard, 2012-2014, and Ranch Systems, 2016-2017.

                        Table--Growing Season Temperature Averages in Degrees Fahrenheit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Location                                   Mean           Maximum         Minimum
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Within Clarksburg AVA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Clarksburg \7\..................................................            67.7            85.8            52.3
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lake Winchester \8\.............................................            67.8            85.0            53.2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Within Proposed Expansion Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ryer Island \9\.................................................            68.7            85.1            53.3
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grand Island \10\...............................................            67.8            83.7            53.4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The expansion petition also includes graphs showing the average 
growing season mean, minimum, and maximum temperatures gathered from 
the Western Regional Climate Center \11\ for a weather station location 
within the Clarksburg AVA and 10 weather station locations in the 
surrounding regions. For each location, the data was collected from a 
minimum of 38 years, which provides a broad picture of the climate of 
the region.\12\ The graphs do not include data from within the proposed 
expansion area. However, the other data in the petition demonstrates 
that the proposed expansion area has temperatures similar to the 
Clarksburg AVA. Therefore, TTB believes that the Clarksburg location 
used in the graphs is an acceptable stand-in for the proposed expansion 
area for the purpose of comparison to the surrounding regions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ www.wrcc.dri.edu.
    \12\ For a listing of all weather station locations and the 
period of record for each, see Exhibit 9 of the expansion petition 
in Docket TTB-2020-0013 at www.regulations.gov.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The graphs show that the location within the Clarksburg AVA had the 
lowest growing season mean temperature of all the locations. 
Additionally, the Clarksburg location had a lower growing season 
maximum temperature than all but two of the locations and a lower 
average growing season minimum temperature than all but three of the 
locations. Most notably, the temperatures for the Clarksburg location 
were all lower than the temperatures for the two Sacramento weather 
stations, supporting the claim in T.D. ATF-166 that temperatures in the 
Clarksburg AVA are typically lower

[[Page 71725]]

than those in Sacramento to the north of the AVA.
Topography
    T.D. ATF-166, which established the Clarksburg AVA, did not 
consider topography to be a distinguishing feature of the Clarksburg 
AVA, only noting that the ``lower terraces to the east'' of the AVA are 
prone to flooding.\13\ However, the expansion petition includes 
topographic information to demonstrate that the proposed expansion area 
is more topographically similar to the Clarksburg AVA than the 
surrounding regions outside the AVA. The petition includes a table of 
the highest and lowest elevations from locations within the Clarksburg 
AVA, which is north of the proposed expansion area, as well as from 
within the proposed expansion area and the regions to the south, west, 
and east.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ 48 FR 2759.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The expansion petition states that due to the low elevations 
throughout the Sacramento Delta, the islands once regularly flooded. 
The entire delta would flood periodically during spring tides and river 
floods, and the islands furthest downstream would flood daily during 
high tides. However, a system of levees, open ditches, and canals has 
made viticulture possible within the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed 
expansion area. Within the proposed expansion area, elevations range 
from a lowest point of 10 feet below sea level to a highest point of 5 
feet above sea level. Within the current boundaries of the Clarksburg 
AVA, elevations range from 10 feet below sea level to 10 feet above sea 
level.
    By comparison, elevations in the surrounding regions are generally 
lower than within the Clarksburg AVA and the proposed expansion area. 
The region east of the proposed expansion area has elevations between 
15 feet below sea level on Tyler Island and Staten Island, and 5 feet 
above sea level at the city of Walnut Grove and the upper portion of 
Andrus Island. To the south of both the AVA and proposed expansion 
area, elevations range from 20 feet below sea level to 0 feet above sea 
level. To the west of the proposed expansion area, elevations range 
from 5 feet below sea level on Liberty Island and the Egbert Tract 
Reclamation District to a high of 10 feet above sea level on the Egbert 
Tract. The petition states that the generally lower elevations in the 
surrounding regions also mean that the depths to water tables are 
appreciably shallower than within the AVA and the proposed expansion 
area. As a result, functional root zones are very shallow, and the 
potential for viticulture in these regions is feasible but limited.
    Although topography was not considered to be a distinguishing 
feature of the Clarksburg AVA in T.D. ATF-166, we are including a 
discussion of topography in this proposed rule because TTB agrees that 
the range of elevations within the proposed expansion area appears to 
be similar to that of the Clarksburg AVA. The data in the expansion 
petition suggests that the regions to the south and east have lower 
elevations than both the proposed expansion area and the Clarksburg 
AVA. While the data indicates that the elevations to the west of the 
proposed expansion area are within the range of those of the Clarksburg 
AVA, the frequency of flooding in the Yolo Bypass would be a logical 
reason for not including it in the proposed expansion area. TTB is 
seeking comment on whether the topography of the proposed expansion 
area provides additional support for including the proposed expansion 
area in the established AVA.

TTB Determination

    TTB concludes that the petition to expand the boundaries of the 
established Clarksburg 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 
expansion area in the proposed regulatory text published at the end of 
this proposed rule.

Maps

    The proposed boundary change to the Clarksburg AVA would affect the 
portion of the current AVA boundary shown on the 1:24,000 scale Liberty 
Island, Isleton, and Courtland quadrangle maps, and would add the 
1:24,000 scale Rio Vista quadrangle map to the list of maps in the 
regulatory text of 27 CFR 9.95. The petitioner included copies of these 
maps in the expansion petition. You may also view a map of the proposed 
expansion of the Clarksburg AVA boundary on the AVA Map Explorer on the 
TTB website, at https://www.ttb.gov/wine/ava-map-explorer.

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.
    The approval of the proposed expansion of the Clarksburg AVA would 
not affect any other existing viticultural area, including the 
established Merritt Island AVA, which is located within the Clarksburg 
AVA. The proposed expansion of the Clarksburg AVA would allow vintners 
to use ``Clarksburg'' as an appellation of origin for wines made 
primarily from grapes grown within the proposed expansion area if the 
wines meet the eligibility requirements for the appellation. The 
proposed AVA expansion would not affect any vintners using ``Merritt 
Island'' as an appellation of origin on wine labels.

Public Participation

Comments Invited

    TTB invites comments from interested members of the public on 
whether it should expand the Clarksburg AVA as proposed. TTB is 
specifically interested in receiving comments on the similarity of the 
proposed expansion area to the established Clarksburg AVA, as well as 
the differences between the proposed expansion area and the areas 
outside the Clarksburg AVA. Please provide specific information in 
support of your comments.

Submitting Comments

    You may submit comments on this notice of proposed rulemaking by 
using one of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: You may send comments via the 
online comment form posted with this notice within Docket No. TTB-2020-
0013 on ``Regulations.gov,'' the Federal e-rulemaking portal, at http://www.regulations.gov. A direct link to that docket is available under 
Notice No. 198 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

[[Page 71726]]

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.
    Please submit your comments by the closing date shown above in this 
notice. Your comments must reference Notice No. 198 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-2020-0013 on the Federal e-
rulemaking portal, Regulations.gov, at http://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. 198. You may 
also reach the relevant docket through the Regulations.gov search page 
at http://www.regulations.gov. For information on how to use 
Regulations.gov, click on the website's ``Help'' tab.
    All posted comments will display the commenter's name, organization 
(if any), city, and State, and, in the case of 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 obtain copies of this proposed rule, all related 
petitions, maps and other supporting materials, and any electronic or 
mailed comments that TTB receives about this proposal at 20 cents per 
8.5- x 11-inch page. Please note that TTB is unable to provide copies 
of USGS maps or any similarly-sized documents that may be included as 
part of the AVA petition. Contact TTB's Regulations and Rulings 
Division by email using the web form at https://www.ttb.gov/contact-rrd, or by telephone at 202-453-1039, ext. 175, 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 an AVA name would be the result of a proprietor's 
efforts and consumer acceptance of wines from that area. Therefore, no 
regulatory flexibility analysis is required.

Executive Order 12866

    It has been determined that this 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. Section 9.95 is amended by adding paragraph (b)(9), revising 
paragraphs (c)(4) and (5), redesignating paragraphs (c)(6) through (12) 
as paragraphs (c)(7) through (13), and adding new paragraph(c)(6) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  9.95  Clarksburg.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (9) Rio Vista, Calif., 1978 (minor revision 1993).
    (c) * * *
    (4) Then south along Miner Slough to the point where it joins Cache 
Slough.
    (5) Then south along Cache Slough to the point where it joins the 
Sacramento River.
    (6) Then east, then generally northeasterly along the meandering 
Sacramento River to the point where it meets the Delta Cross Channel at 
the Southern Pacific Railroad.
* * * * *

    Signed: September 5, 2020.
Mary G. Ryan,
Administrator.
    Approved: October 9, 2020.
Timothy E. Skud,
Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax, Trade, and Tariff Policy).
[FR Doc. 2020-24140 Filed 11-9-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4810-31-P