A grapegrower near Calistoga is suing a winery for allegedly breaching a three-year contract and refusing to accept and pay for grapes valued at up to $194,000, according to court documents filed in Napa County Superior Court.

Under the three-year contract signed in May 2012, Jeff Hill of Hill Winery Company LLC near St. Helena, had agreed to purchase grapes for three years from Diamond Mountain Vineyard — grapes valued at up to $194,000 per year, according to the filings. The lawsuit, filed on Feb. 27, focuses on the first year of the three-year contract.

The complaint alleges that Jeff Hill breached the contract when he did not accept the grapes in 2012. The grapes were picked, crushed and the juice remains at Diamond Mountain Vineyard, said Kevin Block of Block, DeVincenzi and Zelazny LLP of Napa, the attorney who represents Frederic Constant, owner of Diamond Mountain Vineyard.

Jeff Hill’s attorney, Bruce Miroglio of St. Helena, said Thursday that his client has received the complaint. “We will respond in an appropriate time,” he said.

“It will be resolved in an amicable and fair way,” Miroglio predicted, referring to the allegations in the complaint.

The six-page lawsuit alleges breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory fraud and concealment. The complaint, which does not specify dollar amounts, seeks damages, attorney fees and cost of the lawsuit, according to the court filing.

Hill Wine Company allegedly did not monitor the condition of the grapes during the growing season, then rejected the crop, saying it did not meet the quality set in the contract and did not pay the grapegrower, according to the complaint.

Diamond Mountain Vineyard produces cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, claret and syrah at 2,121 feet altitude in the 2100 block of Diamond Mountain Road. The complaint focuses on the 2012 Constant Vineyards harvest — between 10 and 15 tons of cabernet sauvignon valued at $9,500 per ton; three to five tons of merlot valued at $6,500 per ton and one to two tons of cabernet franc at $500 per ton, according to the agreement.

Hill was expected to pay half of the total costs when the grapes were picked and the other half 30 days after the harvest, according to the agreement. The contract, which spells out farming practices at the vineyard, also specified that any past due amount would accrue 15 percent interest.

Hill Wine Company, located at 1001 Silverado Trail, was established in 2008, according to the company’s website.

(1) comment


With as much buying and selling that goes on in this county it surprises me there more litigation reported…. might be a quality indicator…of people doing the business

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