The Sta. Rita growing region has been coming into its own in recent years. (photo by Renee Wilmeth for Wine and Whiskey Globe)

New world wines tend to be a lot less confusing when it comes to labels.  Not only are they in English, but they’re also a lot more clear about what grape you’re actually buying.  On the other hand, there aren’t as many quality indicators on a new world label, so it’s up to you to know a little bit more about what you’re buying.

Here’s a read, from top to bottom.

Clos Pepe Estate

Clos Pepe is the winery itself—well known and respected in the Santa Barbara area and one of the first to put the region’s pinots on the map. The family owners have since moved on but in 2012 the place was still theirs.

Sta. Rita Hills

Always written “Sta. Rita Hills”, it’s nevertheless pronounced “Santa Rita Hills” due to a lawsuit with a large Chilean producer when the AVA (American Viticultural Area) was formed.  Santa Rita Hills is one of six AVAs from the Santa Barbara area in California.

Pinot Noir

The noble grape.  Different AVAs have minimums, but based on Sta. Rita Hills requirements, the wine must be 100% pinot noir. This is likely a blend of several different clones.


The vintage, the year the grapes were grown and harvested

Alcohol 14.2% by volume

American producers are required to list the ABV on their labels and that can prove useful for wine lovers, too.  Not only does it give you a sense of how “hot” the wine will be when you open it, but it also gives you a sense of how the wine will age if you’re going to hang on to a higher quality bottle for a while.