Support builds for 'Sonoma County' wine label

Sonoma County wineries are gaining ground in their campaign for a law they hope will strengthen the region's brand and boost wine sales.

Eight of the county's nine wine and grape trade groups say they would support a law that would require wines made from local grapes to feature Sonoma County on the label. The ninth has yet to announce the results of its vote.

A similar labeling law, in effect in Napa since the late 1980s, has been widely credited with raising the valley's profile with consumers.

"It's really been great to see the wine industry come together around such a major issue that stands to benefit vintners and growers alike," said Honore Comfort, executive director of the Sonoma County Vintners.

The lone holdout is the Russian River Valley Winegrowers, the county's largest industry group with 100 wineries and 150 grape growers. The group was supposed to confirm the results of its voting last week but has postponed an announcement until later this week.

Comfort said she is not concerned about the delay.

"We're waiting for the response from Russian River, but at this point we're feeling positive with the broad-based support we have across the county," Comfort said.

The delay has less to do with the controversy surrounding the proposed law and more with logistics, said Lee Hodo, spokeswoman for Russian River Winegrowers.

"It's really more herding cats. I think it's as simple as that," Hodo said.

Since debate on the subject has at times been contentious, the group has taken pains to make sure its members have all the information they need to make a wise decision, she said.

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