To Kalon Vineyards Harvest (copy)

Harvesting at historic To Kalon Vineyards in Oakville in 2006. The Vineyard House owner Jeremy Nickel has requested an injunction against Constellation Brands to keep the wine giant from selling wine under the label "To Kalon Vineyard Company." 

The Vineyard House has filed for an injunction against Constellation Brands to keep it from using the name “To Kalon Vineyard Company.”

If granted, the injunction would prohibit the sale of wine from To Kalon Vineyard Company, one of Constellation’s newest labels.

The move comes on the heels of an earlier lawsuit filed last March against Constellation Brands by The Vineyard House owner Jeremy Nickel. Nickel, in the lawsuit, alleged trademarks for “To Kalon” and “To Kalon Vineyard” names obtained by Robert Mondavi Winery, a Constellation subsidiary, were “obtained fraudulently” and were being used “to misrepresent” the wine to consumers.

To Kalon refers to one of Napa’s historic vineyards, planted by wine pioneer H.W. Crabb. Robert Mondavi Winery owns 450 acres of the property, though it is not the only winery using To Kalon grapes.

Beckstoffer Vineyards, which was involved in its own legal scuffle with Robert Mondavi Winery over its trademarks, owns 89 acres of what is thought to be the original To Kalon vineyard. Andy Beckstoffer sued over use of the To Kalon name and was granted limited royalty-free use of the To Kalon name in 2003.

The Vineyard House motion specifically mentions prohibiting the sale of the To Kalon Vineyard Company’s 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Highest Beauty ($200), released in September.

Constellation has previously said that the trademarks, filed in 1988 and 1994, respectively, are incontestable.

In March, Beckstoffer told the San Francisco Chronicle he believed his lawsuit against Robert Mondavi Winery was different than Nickel’s. Beckstoffer argued in one of his lawsuits that To Kalon was a geographical location, not “a marketing concept.”

There is dispute over whether the land Nickel claims is part of the original To Kalon Vineyard. Nickel owns 17 acres of a larger, 168-acre site purchased by H.W. Crabb in the 1880s, according to the lawsuit. Crabb purchased the original To Kalon vineyard in the late 1860s.

The earlier lawsuit, filed in March, was dismissed “with leave to amend” by a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California this summer, according to the Dismissal Order. The motion granted The Vineyard House a chance to appeal the dismissal, given it could further elaborate its claims that the trademarks for the To Kalon name had been obtained fraudulently and were misleading consumers. (The complaint filed by the Vineyard House alleges that Mondavi played down the historical significance of the name when applying for the trademarks).

The Vineyard House argued in its complaint that it has been barred “from using the names To Kalon or Crabb to accurately describe its products.”

Asked to comment on the filing, Constellation said it owned the exclusive rights to the To Kalon and To Kalon Vineyard trademarks, and that it had procured both “in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”

“The injunction request filed by The Vineyard House presents inaccurate and meritless claims,” a spokesperson for Constellation said in a written statement. “We remain committed to producing world-class wines with the highest degree of ethics and integrity, as we have done for more than 70 years.”

A hearing on the matter is set for early next year, according to the motion.

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You can reach Sarah Klearman at (707) 256-2213 or sklearman@napanews.com.


Sarah is a staff writer at the Register, covering the wine industry.

Wine industry reporter at the Napa Valley Register.