by Fred McMillin
for September 3, 1998


An "American" Wine?


The label says, "American Sauvignon Blanc." So where were the grapes grown?

Appellation of origin is a geographical term that tells you where the grapes were grown that were used to make the wine. If a winery puts the name of the grape on the label, the appellation of origin must also be shown.

...Dr. Marian Baldy, The University Wine Course

The Rest of the Story


OK, so the appellation of origin will tell us the source of the grapes for Barefoot American Sauvignon Blanc...or will it? The answer is, NO. The USA appellation system is only 20 years old, and still has some loose ends. Australian author James Halliday's appraisal is even more blunt, including words like "inconsistent," "irrational," and "many intelligent winemakers have despaired of the system."

Now, the term "American" tells us only that the wine's grapes came from two or more states. To find out which ones, we asked the winemaker, Jennifer Wall. The Sauvignon Blanc is from the State of Washington, to which has been added some Chenin Blanc from California. The result is an unusual mix of herb and floral flavors which Jennifer calls "one of my personal favorites," a phrase she seldom uses...and you can try it for only $5.

The Wine

Sauvignon Blanc, Appellation—American
Barefoot Cellars, St. Helena, Napa Valley
Tasting Notes—If you like pure refreshment, chill for three hours in the frig before serving. If you want to taste fully the unusual floral-herb flavors, cool it only 1 hour.
Rating—RECOMMENDED in its price range.
Contact—Adrienne Barner, (707) 524-8000
Price—$5 range
Food Recommendation—Herbed chicken; quiche


Speaking of quiches, about the time the appellation system was being established, my wife and I were sitting in James Beard's New York apartment. A guest teacher made cheese tarts, and afterwards we bought her new cookbook, which we still own. She signed the book, "To Ruth and Fred, Love and quiches. Julia Child."

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.



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