Map of Santa Ana California

The laws and qualifications throughout the world that allow a bottle of sparkling wine to be labeled as Champagne are many and abundant. For instance, in order for a bottle of sparkling wine to carry that label, it has to be produced in Champagne, France, and be made with the traditional wine-making method known as méthode champenoise; if that sparkling wine is made anywhere else with the same method, it must be named differently, or else law suits and other legal prosecutions will quickly surface. This is because of the enforcement that the rules and regulations regarding the process and originality of Champagne-making has. In California, the champagne region of the United States, as well as other parts of the U.S., the same applies. So why do we see bottles with the Champagne name on American Shelves?

Champagne’s Legal Loophole

The loophole that allows Champagne bottles to be labeled Champagne in the U.S. originated in the First World War. By the year 1917, nearly all production facilities in the Champagne region were destroyed because of pivotal battles. After the war, reconstruction had to take place, which involved legally reconstructing the rights to the Champagne name. The loophole was unintentionally created when the Treaty of Versailles was developed. Article 275 was written to ensure that only Champagne from the Champagne region of France could be labeled as Champagne; however, the United States only signed the treatment. Its Senate never ratified it. Despite the pleas of France to fix this, nothing was implemented, and it looks like nothing will ever be.

France Hates the U.S.

The Champagne label, outside of the loophole the Treaty of Versailles birthed, has a long history of unsettlement and issues with trademark recognition. Winemakers have been making Champagne in California since the 1860s. The bottles of such sparkling wine were usually labeled as Champagne, along with a sign indicating that it was produced in California. This advertising method still holds true to this day, with labels like André Champagne , making sure people know their Champagne is Californian.

Another period worth mentioning was the Prohibition Era, which slighted the production of Champagne in California. The production of Champagne didn’t gain considerable momentum again until the 1970s, which saw the enormously successful production of cheaper champagnes. Winemakers in France were all the more enraged by this, and believe it or not, still are to this very day.

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