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Lawsuit alleges botched custom crush of grapes

Patrick Vinatieri asserts his wine was 'spoiled'

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A Napa Valley vintner is suing a family-owned winery in south Napa for $3 million, alleging the company spoiled his wine, according to court records.

Patrick Vinatieri alleged in his complaint that his wine had been “spoiled” and “contaminated” by Spelletich Family Wine Co., a custom-crush facility at Napa Valley Commons, formerly Napa Valley Corporate Park. The alleged damages exceed $375,000, Vinatieri stated in the court document.

The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Napa County Superior Court, alleges “the wine is not salvageable.”

Kristen Spelletich, director of operations at the family-owned company, said Spelletich was served with legal papers on Wednesday. “Our legal counsel will review said cause of action and respond via the court,” she wrote in an email.

Neither Vinatieri nor his attorney, John Houston of San Francisco, could be reached for comment.

According to the suit, Vinatieri entered into a verbal agreement with the Spelletich family in 2009 to custom crush, store and maintain his wine. Under the arrangement, Vinatieri purchased the barrels and racks and paid about $7,000 to have his grapes custom crushed and $10 per barrel per month to store and maintain the wine, according to the document.

Vinatieri’s website states the winery produces 150 to 450 cases a year. In August, Vinatieri said he paid Spelletich Family Wine Co. $15,000 to remove his wine.

He received 20 barrels instead of 25 or 26 barrels, according to the court filing. The wine, the suit contends, was spoiled and contaminated and the alcohol content was 17 percent instead of 14 percent as the defendants had communicated. The wine also tested “very high” in sulfites, according to the filing.

Historically, Vinatieri said he sold his wine for $15,000 or more per barrel, according to the court document. A case management conference is scheduled for May 20.

Vinatieri, who does business as Vinatieri Vineyards LLC in the 6000 block of Solano Avenue near Yountville, filed for bankruptcy in December 2012, according to federal court documents.

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