Appellations are used world-wide to designate agricultural products of a certain character and quality. The American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) are appellation areas within the US used to describe areas contributing to a specific territory for wine grapes. These areas are widely used in industry and research, yet available datasets are either prohibitively expensive, or lacking thorough documentation. The UC Davis library, in conjunction with UC Santa Barbara, Virginia Tech, and contributions from the general public, are creating a publicly accessible geospatial dataset of American Viticultural Areas boundaries. The AVA Project empowers researchers to study emerging environmental questions, evaluate wine production and marketing data, compare wine aesthetics by geography, and otherwise enrich science related to different wine-growing environments.
AVA boundaries are established by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) under the Department of the Treasury. Today there are 142 AVAs in California, each recognized for its distinctive topographical, climatic, and/or historic and cultural features. Some are as well-known as the Napa Valley AVA established in 1981, or as new as the Tehachapi Mountain AVA established in 2020.
We are creating this dataset using the official descriptions in the Federal Register. The AVA dataset is freely available for anyone to use. By developing a cooperative project aimed at making AVAs boundaries available as an open GIS dataset, we will extend to researchers and industry a tool that allows them to better visualize, publicize, and compare their data. The AVA data has been used for academic papers, books, industry maps, and won the 2018 Larry L. Sautter Award for advancing the university's mission of teaching, research, and public service.