An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown; other types of food often have appellations as well. Restrictions other than geographical boundaries, such as what grapes may be grown, maximum grape yields, alcohol level, and other quality factors, may also apply before an appellation name may legally appear on a wine bottle label. The rules that govern appellations are dependent on the country in which the wine was produced.
The tradition of wine appellation is very old. The oldest references are to be found in the Bible, where wine of Samaria, wine of Carmel, wine of Jezreel, or wine of Helbon are mentioned. This tradition of appellation continued throughout the Antiquity and the Middle Ages, though without any officially sanctioned rules. Historically, the world's first exclusive (protected) vineyard zone was introduced in Chianti, Italy in 1716 and the first wine classification system in Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary, in 1730.
In 1935, the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO), a branch of the French Ministry of Agriculture, was created to manage wine-processing in France. In the Rhone wine region Baron Pierre Le Roy Boiseaumarié, a lawyer and winegrower from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, obtained legal recognition of the Côtes du Rhône appellation of origin in 1937. The AOC seal, or Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, was created and mandated by French laws in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
Before 1935, despite the fact that the INAO was yet to be created, champagne enjoyed an appellation control by virtue of legal protection as part of the Treaty of Madrid (1891). The treaty stated that only sparkling wine produced in Champagne and adhering to the standards defined for that name as an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée could be called champagne. This right was reaffirmed in the Treaty of Versailles after World War I.
Germany is unusual among wine-producing countries in that its most prestigious classifications, the various grades of Prädikatswein, are based on the ripeness of the grapes, though their geographical origins are also legally defined. Thus Germany's geographical classification, Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA), is akin to France's second-tier Vin Délimité de Qualité Superieure.
Historically, the world's first vineyard classification system was introduced in Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary, in 1730. Vineyards were classified into three categories depending on the soil, sun exposure, and potential to develop Botrytis cinerea. The subdivisions were: first-class, second-class and third-class wines. A decree by the Habsburg crown in 1757 established a closed production district in Tokaj. The classification system was completed by the national censuses of 1765 and 1772.
The world's third-oldest appellation control, after Chianti and Tokaj was introduced in Portugal in 1756, pertaining to port wine, which was produced in the region of the Douro valley.
Canadian wine appellations are regulated by the Vintners Quality Alliance system. The system covers the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.
British Columbia is divided into four "Designated Viticultural Areas" ("DVAs"): Okanagan Valley, Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, and the Similkameen Valley. Ontario includes four DVAs: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, Pelee Island, and Prince Edward County.
On June 11, 2012, Nova Scotia Launched its first appellation called Tidal Bay.
The American Viticultural Area ("AVA") is for the United States. The only requirement to use the AVA name on the wine label is that 85% of the wine must have come from grapes grown within the geographical AVA boundaries. The first American Viticultural Area was in Augusta, Missouri, in 1980. Augusta's wine region approval was based largely on its long historical relationship with wine in the United States. The Augusta wine-growing area is a 15-square-mile (39 km2) plot of land along the Missouri River, which moderates temperature and provides an appropriate climate for growing grapes. European Union: Protected Designation of Origin
Austria: Districtus Austriae Controllatus
Cyprus: Ελεγχόμενη Ονομασία Προέλευσης
France: Appellation d'origine contrôlée
Germany: German wine classification
Greece: ονομασία προελεύσεως ελεγχομένη
Italy: Denominazione di Origine Controllata
Luxembourg: Appellation contrôlée
Portugal: Denominação de Origem Controlada
Romania: Denumire de Origine Controlată
Spain: Denominación de Origen
United Kingdom: Quality Wine Scheme
Switzerland: Appellation d'origine contrôlée
Australia: Australian Geographical Indications
Canada: Vintners Quality Alliance
Brazil: Denominação de Origem
Chile: see Chilean wine
South Africa: Wine of Origin
United States: American Viticultural Area