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Participate In U.S. Wine Authenticity Project

Wine Institute and partners, including ETS Laboratories, are beginning an important U.S. wine authenticity project to ensure a bottle of wine’s legitimacy, help combat fraud and counterfeits and most importantly to protect its integrity. This initiative will create a California wine variety database that will serve as a set of technical criteria for the global regulatory community to determine authenticity.

There are now both private and regulatory laboratories throughout the world using a technique known as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to verify a wine’s origin and variety. Such techniques depend upon large databases of authentic wine sample analyses to be valid.


We’re asking you to join us in this project by providing wine samples over the next two to four weeks for this year’s effort. In order to build a comprehensive array of samples, this will be a multi-year project.

Samples will be analyzed at ETS Laboratories, using NMR spectroscopy equipment.

The wine sample’s spectra or digital signature — which contains hundreds of signals that provide information about its composition — will be analyzed with statistics and chemometrics, in order to create the wine authenticity database. This important set of data will provide a reference for wine varieties and wine production regions. It will not be able to identify a wine from a specific producer or brand since the association with that winery will be anonymized.

Wine samples must be at least 95% of one grape variety, with 10 varieties accepted: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zinfandel.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided funding to help kickstart sample collection and testing. The only cost to the winery is for the sample collection and shipment to or drop-off at the laboratory. For a true representative slice of U.S. wine, wineries that are non-Wine Institute members and those outside of California will be asked to participate.

Your Participation is Important  

Providing samples is relatively easy with a few steps and filling out a form with basic questions. The various steps for participation are set up in order to protect you, the information and the database.

  • Submit an email to sample administrator Dr. Patricia Howe at to express interest in participating. She will personally respond and send you materials to confirm participation. You will then receive a second email — an invitation to participate.
  • You will receive a “code” for identification — be sure to check that it didn’t go to spam.
  • You will complete a brief form for each sample submitted. The form has basic questions including variety, AVA, wine or processing condition and location where sample was taken.
  • You will use ETS labels and containers and standard ETS drop-offs. Note that your name should not go on the labels but instead use your “code.”

For more explicit instructions, please refer to this document, which includes links to videos on the first page.


Contact Dr. Patricia Howe, sample administrator, or Katherine Bedard, Wine Institute senior director of international public policy