TEHACHAPI — After years of hard work, Tehachapi Mountains has received accreditation for its award-winning wines.

On Wednesday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, announced that local vintners can now label their bottles of wine as the Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area. 

Established by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, this action will allow Tehachapi wines to compete with other well-known AVAs in the state such as Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles. There are currently 251 AVAs in the United States, including 140 in California.

Jim Arnold, Triassic Vineyards' owner and president of Tehachapi Wine Growers Commission, was instrumental in the Tehachapi Mountains receiving its AVA accreditation.

“I am excited that the Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area has been approved. This means a lot for the Tehachapi wine growers, the greater Tehachapi area and Kern County. In addition to being known as 'The Land of Four Seasons,' Tehachapi will become known as an exceptional wine-growing region tucked away in the Tehachapi Mountains," said Arnold.

Arnold said that if it wasn't for the efforts of Bob and Patty Souza and Chuck McCollough, Tehachapi's original wine growers, the recent accreditation could not have been possible.

In 2018, Tehachapi area vineyard owners filed a petition with the TTB to establish an AVA in the region. It was accepted as perfected and ready for rule-making later that year. 

“This announcement is welcome news for our community, which has been working to establish the Tehachapi Mountains AVA for several years and is something I have strongly supported and urged the administration to finalize," McCarthy wrote in a news release.

The Tehachapi Mountains AVA will encompass approximately 58,000 acres of some of the highest elevations in the country.

According to Julie Bell, Tehachapi Mountains AVA petition author, the establishment of the Tehachapi Mountains AVA will give Tehachapi area winegrowers the ability to develop and market their wine based on the reputation of the Tehachapi area for producing high-quality wine grapes.

"The high altitude, yet warm conditions truly make the Tehachapi area unique, providing winegrowers a setting to grow and fully ripen quality wine grapes, which require both warm, sunny days and cool nights to develop the subtle flavors necessary to make outstanding wines," Bell said in the news release.

McCarthy said that the AVA designation will also help stimulate the local economy by further putting Tehachapi wines on the map.

"I think this is the most wonderful thing that could happen to Tehachapi. Now, we are a wine-growing region, and we get to be recognized for it, and I couldn't be happier," Tehachapi Mayor Susan Wiggins said Wednesday.

City Manager Greg Garrett also voiced his excitement. 

"The city of Tehachapi is thrilled to raise a glass in cheers to our local wine growers," Garrett said Wednesday. "The accreditation of the Tehachapi Mountains AVA not only brings our local growers and winemakers into the spotlight, but all of our community will benefit from the positive economic benefit it brings us. This accreditation could not have been possible without the leadership of Congressman McCarthy and the growers working together to achieve this goal. Akin to a good blend of wine."

According to Zack Scrivner, 2nd District Kern County supervisor, the AVA accreditation provides an important economic development tool for the regional vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms, which will, in turn, increase tourism and sales.

"I congratulate the Tehachapi Wine Growers Commission and the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council who have worked so hard to bring this important designation to our beautiful region,” Scrivner wrote.

The Tehachapi Mountains AVA will become effective 30 days following publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.

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