GREENFIELD, CA. December 21, 2018 — Mesa Del Sol Wine Cellar had two pieces of good news this month: the winery learned that the Department of the Treasury agreed to expand the Arroyo Seco viticulture area to include Mesa Del Sol, and the winery has been selected for the 2018 Best of Greenfield Award in the Wines category by the Greenfield Award Program.
Ann Hougham, owner of Mesa Del Sol Vineyards had originally petitioned the United States Alcohol and Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), a division of the Department of the Treasury, to include the winery in the Arroyo Seco American Viticultural Area (AVA).
She had initially thought that the winery was part of the Arroyo Seco AVA, but discovered it was not, so she couldn’t use that designation on her wines. So she petitioned the TTB to include it starting in 2014. The process was long and arduous, but in December of 2016 she was informed her petition was sitting on the agency director’s desk, ready to be signed off and head to a 90-day public comment period.
A few weeks later she was told that there was a halt because the new Trump administration was coming in, which was customary. Then, in January 2017, she was informed that the Treasury Department was waiting for positions to be filled by the new administration and then a regulatory freeze came halted things entirely.
That prompted Hougham to write a letter to the TTB and the administration expressing her frustration in the lack of movement due to the freeze that wass “egregiously affecting my business.”
Her letter she argued:
“A ruling on this petition has no tax implications. Every person and entity is in favor of this ruling. In my case, a ruling in favor and the publishing of this petition is righting something that was previously thought to be fact. A favorable ruling on this petition has absolutely no tax implications. For me and the other wineries that purchase my grapes, however, it is taxing.
“The Arroyo Seco AVA is an up and coming region for wines of distinction. Wines made from grapes grown on my land have been garnering high honors. At this juncture I am not able to claim that the grapes grown on my land are in the Arroyo Seco AVA nor label wines as such.
“A blanket regulatory freeze that encompasses AVA publishing is not pertinent to our country’s problems. It is petitioned by industry, is not required and is voluntary. It makes me wonder how many other businesses are affected by this “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.” I am extremely frustrated I can attest to that!!”
Then, earlier this month, Hougham received notice from TTB that her petition had been approved:
“After careful review of the petition, TTB finds that the evidence provided by the petitioner sufficiently demonstrates that although the proposed expansion area shares some of the broader characteristics of the larger Monterey and Central Coast AVAs, it is also similar to the established Arroyo Seco AVA and should also be recognized as part of that AVA,” the review said, with the change effective January 14, 2019.
The Arroyo Seco appellation encompasses about 18,240 acres in the valley adjacent to the Arroyo Seco River and was granted federal AVA status in 1983, and amended June 15, 2006. The new ruling expands the Arroyo Seco AVA by approximately 90 acres, using geographical distinguishing features instead of the section line that is currently used as a demarcation line.
Each year, the Greenfield Award Program identifies companies that have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Greenfield area a great place to live, work and play.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2018 Greenfield Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Greenfield Award Program and data provided by third parties.
About Greenfield Award Program
The Greenfield Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Greenfield area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.
The Greenfield Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.