Officials in Oregon, and at a U.S. government agency, are jumping on claims that a California winery makes an Oregon pinot. A Napa Valley California winery called Copper Cane sells more pinot noir made from Oregon grapes than most Oregon wineries. Often at a lower price point too. Oregon winemakers are calling the California version a low quality product.
Currently, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, as well as Oregon’s liquor agency, are ruling Copper Cane’s labels as having improperly referenced Oregon wine. Oregon’s reputation is at stake, for they’re wineries firmly believe that there is a quality difference in where the wine is cured. Oregon’s climate allows for producing a delicate pinot noir in its cool, rainy weather prone region. According to state Rep. David Gomberg and winemaker Jim Bernau, Copper Cane does not properly prepare their pinot in a way that Oregon is proud to represent. Gomberg stated, “Part of this is prestige and marketing.”
Grapes for Copper Cane’s pinot noirs are imported from Oregon. Jim Bernau complains that, “Copper Cane takes something valuable that isn’t theirs and deeply discounts it. They can’t use Oregon AVAs if the wine is not made in the AVA.”
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission ended up informing Copper Cane that only wines “finished” in Oregon can claim to be from Oregon. The federal TTB informed Copper Cane that it has to ditch seven of its labels. A major grocery store chain in Oregon has ordered the staff to remove any of Copper Cane’s wines and Gomberg wants the federal government to stop Copper Cane from selling it’s “Oregon” wine in the rest of the country.
On Copper Cane’s side of things, they claim that they were simply engaged in fanciful marketing. However, the state of Oregon has determined that they crossed a fraudulent line. Copper Cane believes that they are being blatantly attacked just because they’re sales are better. They see it as a financial issue with Oregon wineries and not a pride issue as they claim.
It seems that Oregon is very proud of their brand name and they don’t want someone else claiming that their product is the same. At the same time, it can be hard to tell if these accusations are for financial gains, as business competition these days is over the top competitive and very cut throat. In any event, it would seem that the courts are going to rule in favor of Oregon on this one.