Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
03.31.2009  
 

Who'll Take the Cake?

California wine producers in trademark food-fight

 
by Paul Franson
 
 
Layer Cake Wine
San Francisco, Calif. -- A lawsuit filed over a sweet subject is creating a sour taste at the Wine Group. One True Vine, owner of the Layer Cake wine brand, is suing The Wine Group for trademark infringement over its Cupcake brand.

One True Vine is owned by Jayson Woodbridge and Chris Ramonski, who also make expensive Cabernets under their Hundred Acre brand, based in St. Helena.

One True Vine created the Layer Cake label to sell various wines from around the globe at lower prices than Hundred Acres. It markets wines from Argentina, Australia, Italy, France and California, typically priced in the mid-teens (Layer Cake Napa Cab is $28). They're promoted with a heavy dose of nostalgia, including a homey story about Woodbridge's grandfather and a three-layer chocolate cake on the label. One True Vine introduced and sold the Australian wines in July 2006. It also registered the trademark.

Woodbridge, reached in Australia where he was working on the harvest of the Layer Cake Shiraz, exclaimed, "For me, Layer Cake is a labor of love. I built it as a dedication to my grandfather, a wine everyone can afford."

He added, "It's important to me. It's sad that they've taken our ideas and made their marketing materials so similar to ours. This is no different than people knocking off products in China."

Cupcake is a brand of Underdog Wine Merchants, a division of The Wine Group (TWG) of Tracy, Calif., which last year racked up the second largest volume of case sales (behind E & J. Gallo) of any wine company based in the United States, according to Wine Business Monthly's February 2009 estimate. It uses the offices of Concannon Vineyards in Livermore, Calif., as its address.

Cupcake Wine
Underdog styles itself as "The champion of the more interesting, albeit sometimes misunderstood or under-appreciated wines and wine styles." Its portfolio of wines includes A*Mano, Angel Juice, Big House, Boho Vineyards, Cardinal Zin, Chateau Laroque, Cupcake, Killer Juice, Monticello, Now & Zen, Osborne, Pinot Evil, Tempra Tantrum, just to name a few. Its website is underdogwinemerchants.com.

According to a 50-page deposition filed in Federal Court, the Wine Group first began using the Cupcake brand in April 2007 based, on filings with the TTB for label approval. It has offered a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay from California, and has applied to use the brand on a Riesling from Washington.

Its labels include cakes (in this case, cupcakes) as well as references to a grandfather and to layer cakes, and winemaker's notes since pulled from its website comparing the wines to layer cakes. The wines typically sell between $9.99 and $13.99 per 750ml bottle.

Both wines are sold through similar channels, including Cost Plus World Markets, Raley's and Nob Hill Markets; One True Vine even found a flyer from Cost Plus World Markets featuring the two brands side by side.

In its suit, One True Vine contends that the similar strategy of selling multiple varietals from different places, and the references to cakes are likely to confuse buyers. It sent a letter to The Wine Group asking it to stop using the Cupcake brand in May 2008, but Wine Group attorney Deborah Davis Han from Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin of San Francisco, disagreed, claiming confusion was not likely.

One True Vine has sued for an injunction to prevent The Wine Group from using the name (or similar brands incorporating "cake"). It also demanded The Wine Group's profits from the product and punitive damages.

Woodbridge seems determined to win. "I hate the idea of a lawsuit, but I'm going to defend my brand until the end of the earth. I have to go through this."

John Sutton, general counsel for the Wine Group, told Wines & Vines, "The Wine Group strongly believes this lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend its rights."

Jayson Woodbridge is a flamboyant vintner whose second vintage of his Hundred Acre Cabernet Sauvignon drew raves. The wine now sells for $200. He once introduced a Chardonnay containing flecks of gold. But he was also cited by Napa County for construction without a permit and even charged with making wine without the required permits. He made a $100,000 donation to charity and paid fines to settle the first complaint, and the criminal charges were later dropped. Many neighbors complained about his activity, and other vintners condemned his actions and attitude.

Read the lawsuit at: courthousenews.com/.
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
May 2015 $607 million
7%
$8,068 million
5%
May 2014 $569 million $7,651 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
May 2015 $141 million
4%
$1,896 million
14%
May 2014 $135 million $1,657 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
May 2015 355
15%
256
20%
May 2014 308 213
     
 
MORE » Released on 06.15.2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2015
 
Download full report »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • July 7
     
    Sanitation Seminar, Napa
     
  • July 8
     
    Sanitation Seminar, Greenfield
     
  • July 9
     
    Sanitation Seminar, Solvang
     
  • July 9-10
     
    Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: B.C. Eyes New Wine Appellation Rules »
 
Slight misquote or perhaps I misspoke so I will clarify the thought: People were not...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Pull Red Blotch Vines, Get Paid »
 
Maybe this would be a good time for the USDA to allocate some of its...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wine E-commerce Remains a Niche »
 
This shouldn't be a surprise. E-commerce is only about 5-7% of overall retail across the...
Reader: Barbara Insel
 
Article: Pull Red Blotch Vines, Get Paid »
 
I worked for a year with USDA in Washington to get Red Blotch identified as...
Reader: Bob Dempel
 
Article: Pull Red Blotch Vines, Get Paid »
 
I'll bet anyone in Napa and Sonoma counties I can find GRBaV in their red...
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 2015 Seasonal Harvest ...
 Napa, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Wine Director
 New York, NY
General Administration and
 Enologist
 Healdsburg, CA
Winemaker/Enologist
 Wine Manager
 Clifton, NJ
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Assistant Tasting Room...
 Windsor, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Cellar Worker
 Napa, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Sales Representative
 Greater Los Angeles Area, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Representative O...
 San Francisco, CA
Sales and Marketing
 General Line Technicia...
 Napa, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Dtc Outbound Sales Ass...
 Paso Robles, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.