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Mondavi sues Napa neighbour

Robert Mondavi Winery is suing Schrader Cellars of Calistoga over the winery's use of the ToKalon Vineyard name on the front label of its wine.

Mondavi is seeking ‘injunctive relief’ – ie demanding Schrader stop selling the wine, the Beckstoffer Original Tokalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – as well as damages of around US$135,000 (€134,000).

According to Frederick Schrader, the owner of Schrader Cellars, the wine, which was released in August at $75 (€74) a bottle, has long been sold out. He estimates that about the revenue is profit, which would put the monetary damages to Mondavi at about $135,000.

Clay Gregory, Mondavi’s vice president and general manager said, ‘our priority is the injunctive relief.’

Mondavi owns approximately 250 acres of the original 369-acre Hamilton Crabb vineyard which dates from 1868. Mondavi, which has since added about 300 contiguous acres to the original property, registered the trademark ‘To Kalon’ in 1988 and six years later, it trademarked the vineyard name.

Grape grower Andy Beckstoffer, whose grapes went into the Schrader Cabernet, purchased 89 acres of the original Tokalon vineyard at the end of 1993. University of California Davis also owns a portion of the original property.

Gregory said, ‘we have no problem (with the use of the name) on a back label or on sales materials. But we do have a problem with the use on a front label. We tried to work out a non-litigious solution and that was not successful.’

Beckstoffer said, ‘We own a portion of the original Tokalon and we think we have a right to tell everybody that. We believe we have a fair use of a true fact.

‘I’m surprised they would pick on little Fred Schrader. I don’t like the idea of two Napa Valley families fighting like this.’

Written by Alan Goldfarb18 November 2002

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