Estate / Winery / Vineyard - these are the most common winery name words we see, and its interesting as each evokes an image. Sadly, there's no regulation here so the name is rather irrelevant.
You'd rather hope and expect that a wine company with 'winery' in their name actually made wine, and that 'vineyards' meant they grew grapes. When I see 'vineyard' (singular) I start thinking small lots and boutique, and when I read 'cellars' I think of subterranean caves. I'm not going to delve into a name and shame here, but be aware that these words don't technically have to mean anything. There is fortunately some correlation with these words, however, and a wine label that says 'Winery' was probably made by a winery.
The one word that needs to be treated separately is "Estate". This word actually does mean something. Only a wine that is produced from grapes grown by the winery, on lands that are either contiguous with the winery or on owned lands in the same appellation can qualify.
None of this really has an impact on quality, a wine made from purchased grapes isn't necessarily worse than one made from grapes the winery actually grew (Joseph Phelps Insignia isn't an Estate wine and its known as one of Napa's best cab's). I just think its fair that people know what the heck's going on under the hood...
Whats in a name
- Blog comment by Stephen Pavy, Sep 20, 2007.
Actually, beginning with the 2004 release of Insignia (the 31st vintage), Insignia has become 100% estate grown, produced and bottled. This was a goal set out in 1990 and has taken 15 years to achieve. Starting with the 2004, the plan is to be 100% estate from now on.