Ask the Expert Sponsors

Ask the Expert Sponsors

NEW! Ask The Expert

Do you have a Legal question?

SCV Members now have the benefit of complimentary response from SCV Affiliate Member Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty.

How it works: Submit your general legal question by filling in the simple query form and the membership will typically receive a response within one-five business days.

Read the Ask the Expert Recent Questions


Latest Newsletters

Recent Questions - Ask The Expert

Labor Question

I’m a winery and vineyard owner using the services of a vineyard manager on a year-round basis. Since the services are not seasonal, they are not a farm labor contractor, right?

California defines what a “farm labor contractor” is broadly. In California, a vineyard management company is almost always considered a farm labor contractor (commonly referred to as an “FLC”). Vineyard management companies who are FLCs must comply with California laws regulating FLCs, including registration and licensing. Growers or owners who engage a vineyard management company/FLC have an affirmative statutory obligation to check the license and retain a copy for at least three years following the termination of services.


Intellectual Property Question

My wine label has a fanciful name that is similar to another winery’s brand. Is this okay since I am only using this name as a fanciful name and not a brand?

The terms “brand” and “fanciful name” as used on the TTB application for Certificate of Label Approval have no legal effect in the context of trademark law. A winery’s use of a “fanciful name” that is similar to another winery’s “brand,” or vice versa, can still result in liability for trademark infringement. Whenever a distinctive term appears on a wine label in a prominent manner it functions as a trademark. For instance, Francis Ford Coppola has a line called DIAMOND COLLECTION where that term appears on the label smaller and subordinate to the main brand FRANCIS COPPOLA, but still in a prominent manner. Therefore, the term DIAMOND COLLECTION still functions as a trademark and if another party used the same mark for its fanciful name or its brand name, there would likely be a trademark infringement problem. This highlights the need for performing a trademark clearance search before adopting a new name for your wine.


ABC/TTB change of control question

We are a winery and hold our permits as an LLC. My husband and I are the managers and originally held our membership interest as individuals each owning 50%. We have done some estate planning and now own the membership interest as one trust with the two of us as trustees. Does this need to be reported to ABC and TTB?

Yes. For both ABC and TTB this is recognized as a change in control and an application must be filed to reflect the 100% ownership change of your existing permits with both agencies. This should technically be done within 30 days of the change.


©2016 Sonoma County Vintners, 400 Aviation Boulevard, Suite 500, Santa Rosa, CA 95403