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It’s Petite Sirah, People. TTB only accepts new labels with the “i”

Life was getting to be pretty great. I had spent years getting wine writers to understand that Petite Sirah is spelled with an “i” and not the “y.”

“Petite Sirah” (versus Petite Syrah ~ I even have a hard time writing it with the “y”) is the only accepted form of Petite Sirah.

Why? Come on… Syrah, Shiraz, Petite Sirah… Isn’t that enough confusion to deal with

So, TTB issued an order… All future Petite Sirah would be spelled with an “i.”

Now, as with all things legal like this, if a brand already had a “y” on the label (Stags’ Leap Winery, for instance), they’re okay with the “y” until they change their label, vintages excluded from that ruling. So, Stags’ Leap has continued with the “y.” That’s why you still see it that way for them.

And, about two years ago, things were nicely beginning to fall into place. My “Change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ and just say ‘yes!'” job on that front was just about done.

Web 2.0…

Along comes the interactivity part of the Internet, which has allowed for everyone to journal his/her wine experiences, and “Petite Syrah” returns with a vengeance.

At first, I thought, okay, here we go, again, and I tried to keep up. But then I realized, it’s a losing battle. It’s just too demanding a job to tell every Tom, Dick, and Mary why – when they write Petite Syrah – they’re just wrong, 99.99 percent of the times.

So, like fingers down a black board, are the days of my life on this little Petite Sirah marketing problem.

What kills me the most?

If they only really looked at the label, they’d get it right, and that’s what’s so wrong. It’s just sloppy.

I’ll give them an “A” for effort, but it’s an “E” for execution.

HEADS UP: Petite Sirah with an “i” gives you a 99.99 percent probability rate for being correct, when it’s time to spell it.

I know I’m not writing this for my regular readers, but it needs to be on the Internet as a searchable item, so thanks for letting me have my occasional rant.

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15 Responses to “It’s Petite Sirah, People. TTB only accepts new labels with the “i””

  1. Loweeel says:

    Great post! 🙂

  2. Jo says:


    Thanks and happy aggregating! (We can use all the help we can get.)

  3. Jo says:

    Mike Gee,

    And, I’m darned pleased with ya!

  4. Honey says:

    Hey you go Jo…!!!

    I am glad I got it right early on…or I would be more confused than I was looking for the darn wine…

  5. Matt says:

    It’s Durif, People. TTB should only accept labels with the D.

    A vine breeder by the name of Durif, intentionally bred this variety to have certain characteristics. He should get the credit, even if he is dead.

  6. Jo says:


    Sorry, when Charles McIver brought it to US, he called it Petite Sirah, and it’s been that ever since. Our history books are full of Petite Sirah, and it’s too late to turn back the clocks.

    Let France, that could give a rat’s patuty, call it whatever they want. I’m all for an American heritage cultivar, that’s been in this country since its 1884 introduction in the US, be one of our historical cultivars – like Zinfandel, which could/should (?) not called Primitivo in the US.

    Maybe if the French had been nicer to it, I’d feel differently, but they shun it to this day, and don’t even want it in the Rhone. (I’m French, BTW, on my mother’s Bernier side of the family.)

    Durif is the know ampelographer who crossed it, and Francois Durif gets credit, but so does McIver for bringing it here.

  7. Victor says:

    Hi Jo,

    The day I will call Petite Sirah Durif is the day they pry my last empty bottle of Petite Sirah from my cold dead stained blue hands!
    Great Posting Jo!

  8. Randy Watson says:

    It HAD to be written! 🙂

  9. Jo says:


    Someone’s always got to present the other side, lest we be unbalanced.

  10. Jo says:


    How true… it’s not the first time, nor will it be the last. We live with spell check, because it’s just so easy to make mistakes.

  11. joanne says:

    And it is PETIT…not PETITE, as it is so often incorrectly written. And Durif keeps things more clear. One site even says that petit syrah and syrah are the same grape. Wrong!

  12. Jo says:

    Sorry, Joanne,

    It is NOT Petit. I can’t let you get away with that one, further confusing an already confused population.

    If it were, every bottle in the US would be forced by the TTB to have the spelling you suggest (I can’t even write it again) on the label.

    It’s Petit Verdot, but that’s another story.

    Thanks for commenting, though, not to put you off. I just have to keep it completely clear, after having studied it – about every day – since February 2002. that kind of specialization makes one a bit myopic. ;^)

  13. Fabius says:

    Anyone know why it’s Petite Sirah, but Petit Verdot?

  14. Jo says:

    I don’t know the answer to that one, Fabius, but it’s a great question.

    I often wondered that myself.

    I suspect that it might have to do with masculine and feminine, with the “e” being the feminine version., but I’m only second guessing from my two years of high school French, and my grandparents ~ the Berniers (rhymes with Viogniers).

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