Thursday, July 13, 2006

What Price Will be Paid to Protect Napa?

Over a year ago, I pointed out the potential fallout from the Napa Vintners' success in their court battle with Bronco and Fred Franzia. I pointed out that other wines using geographic names could be put at risk.

Its interesting to note that supporters of the protectionist bill created to preserve the use of appellation names in Napa have now taken a prejudicial stance against protecting other regions. A bill by state Senator Wes Chesbro is attempting to give parity between the counties by protecting more of their names from being used "incorrectly". Initially, Chesbro’s bill restricted the use of California county names to those labels actually using grapes from ALL California counties. Needless to say, Sutter Home (Sutter County is where gold was discovered in California) was less than pleased about the proposed bill. After rethinking his approach, Chesbro has essentially redacted his draft to include only the counties producing the highest-value grapes (Sonoma, Mendocino, San Benito, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey), though he isn’t phrasing it in that way for fear it be seen as a bill protecting the higher-end growing regions. Methinks the Kautz family, who own Sonoma Creek and use non-Sonoma fruit, are using their extensive political connections to beat this bill by creating opposition from the
Wine Institute and probably other political channels.

Fred Franzia of Bronco has seen this bill for what it is, and has asked the Wine Institute to reconsider its opposition to the bill (which doesn’t align with their endorsement of the Napa protectionist law). Oddly, the Wine Institute endorsed the Napa law, but feels that Chesbro’s bill would interfere with “long-term intellectual property rights”. Odd that they didn’t feel that way about Mr. Franzia’s IP rights on his Napa Ridge brand for which he paid $40 million!

Therefore, I suggest Mr. Franzia rename his Napa Ridge brand to conform with the Napa law. My suggestions include:

“Napah Ridge”
“Nearly Napa”
“DCTN (Darn Close to Napa) Ridge”
“BRINCO (Blended Right In Napa County) Ridge”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are incorrect re the position of the Kautz family. The Kautz's are making their wine in Sonoma and using Sonoma grapes for their program. Any non-sonoma part of the Sonoma Creek brand is very minimal.

July 14, 2006 3:45 PM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

That is quite possible. I was told the Kautz's were planning to use fruit from their extensive central valley holdings in the brand, but perhaps they have changed their plans.

Thanks for the correction.


July 17, 2006 11:44 AM  

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