Here are some of the most common terms you will encounter on American-made wines and what these terms mean:
California: The label may say it's from California, but that might only mean the wine was grown anywhere in the state, not just the Napa Valley wine region. A high percentage of California wine comes from cheaper Central Valley grapes.
Coastal: Many of the wines with this term are a great value, but "Coastal" is not an AVA (American Viticultural Area) and in terms of appellation, means nothing.
Counties or Valleys: If the label says Napa Valley, Sonoma County or Willamette Valley this is good indicator. This means that a minimum of 85 percent of the wine was made from grapes grown in those areas.
Towns or Districts: If a town name like Yountville or a district name like Alexander Valley is displayed on the label it means even more specialization, and a better chance for high quality and probably a higher price.
Vineyard: This is the property where the grapes were grown. It is the best geographical feature a winery can put on a bottle. This is usually a reliable sign of quality.
Estate Bottled: If this term is on the wine label it is a sign of quality. It means that the wine was made from grapes grown on the estate, in vineyards owned or leased by the winery itself.
Produced and Bottled by: This term is a good indication of quality wine. It means that the winery produced the wine, from crushing the grapes to bottling. The only other term you will see that is better than this is "grown, produced and bottled by," which is essentially the same as "estate bottled."
We hope this quick summary of wine terms is helpful to you when you shop for wine. And remember to add your own personalized wine label to your favorite wine for that special touch to any celebration.