What is an Estate Winery?

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If you’re working with a limited knowledge of wine, choosing your next bottle is probably a process akin to judging a book by its cover. You look for labels that are eye-catching, artistic, and demonstrate a style in line with the flavor portfolio you’re hunting for. You narrow that section down to what’s in your price range for that evening. And then you take a gamble on your pretty new bottle.

But for the avid wine enthusiast, the bottle’s design is just the icing on the cake. Once you have a clear understanding of wine terminology—as well as your own palate & preferences—it’s not just about the look of the bottle. With a solid foundation of wine knowledge, you can develop an in-tune understanding of the wine you’re holding before you’ve even popped the cork.

Wine terminology is subtle, it’s nuanced, and can seem vague to beginner enthusiasts. The difference between a full-bodied red and a medium-bodied red might seem almost indiscernible to those just beginning their journey.

There’s one word that goes far too unnoticed on wine bottles across the United States. That word is “Estate.” What is an estate winery? What does “Estate Bottled” mean? Does it matter if a wine is “Estate Grown” or not? Find out now.

What is an Estate Winery?

The term “estate” in wine has deep agricultural value. Typically, “estate” means the winery controls 100% of the farming & growing. This doesn’t have to mean that all of the grapes are grown on the same plot of land, but it does mean they’re being controlled by the wine producers.

Why Does it Matter?

Consistency. Winemaking is a careful process. Like with any careful and meticulous process, consistency means everything.

What Does Estate Bottled Mean?

Things get a little murky when it comes to estate wines. How so? In the US, the term “estate bottled” is well-defined and regulated. But the more general term “estate” is not. To wear the label “estate bottled” with honor, both the winery and the vineyards must be located in the same AVA (American Viticultural Area). Second, the fruit must come from vineyards owned or controlled by the winery. If the wine producer is not dictating what’s planted, how it’s cultivated, and so forth, then it’s not estate-bottled. Finally, the wine must be produced from crush to finish without leaving the winery’s premises.

What Should I Look for On a Wine Label?

Looking for terms such as “estate” and “estate bottled” on your next wine label is certainly going to increase the odds you’re purchasing a high-quality wine. It’s not a guarantee. There are some incredible and fine-tuned non-estate wines that can’t be estate wines because they pull their grapes from multiple different parts of the country. Alternatively, there are estate wines that—while well-regulated—are not necessarily expertly produced. So don’t let the lack of “estate bottled” turn you away from trying something you might love. But do understand the efforts behind an estate-bottled wine.

When you pay for an estate wine, you’re paying for the additional care and attention that was put into it. The winemakers have paid careful attention to every step of that wine’s life, from growth to fermentation, to bottling, and beyond.

Find your new favorite winery in Pennsylvania.

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