Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wine Law Seminar in Napa on July 22, 2011

On July 22, 2011, Networking Seminars will be presenting "Successfully Navigating the New Economy: Legal and Tax Issues Facing the Wine Industry."  The conference will take place from 9:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott and conclude with a networking wine reception sponsored by Napa Valley Vintners.  The conference will discuss legal and tax consequences for wine production, sales & distribution, including managing international opportunities, intellectual property issues, commonly overlooked tax savings and audit strategies, multi state tax issues and opportunities to raise capital and positioning your winery or vineyard for a successful sale. Attendees will be eligible for Continuing Professional Education Credit and Continuing Legal Education credit.  For more information on the conference follow the below link, and Lex Vini readers can qualify for a reduced attendance fee by entering the promotional code DPF.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wine Law Treatise Now Available on Amazon

The recently-published wine law treatise by Richard Mendelson, Wine in America: Law and Policy, is now available on  The treatise is intended to provide reference information on legal issues affecting the wine industry.  The subject areas include trade practices, labeling and advertising, business models for making wine and growing grapes, the commerce clause and the 21st amendment, wine brands and appellations of origin, land use issues for wineries and bars, counterfeit wine, public health and social responsibility and international institutions and accords.  The book is the first comprehensive treatise on wine law in the U.S.  The book was edited and written by Richard Mendelson, Director of the Program on Wine Law and Policy at UC Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law and Of Counsel at Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty.  Other contributing authors include many experts in the area of wine law including Jim Seff and Carrie Bonnington of Pillsbury Winthrop, Wendell Lee of the Wine Institute, Jim Terry, Scott Gerien and Erik Lawrence of Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty, Lynne Carmichael of Hinman & Carmichael and Jacques Audier of the University of Bordeaux.

Wine Law in America: Law and Policy

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Proposed Naches Heights AVA an Exception to Recent TTB Stated AVA Policy

On May 24, 2011, TTB published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to establish the Naches Heights American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Yakima County, Washington.  The Naches Heights AVA would be located within the Columbia Valley AVA.  TTB is asking for comments on the NPRM on or before July 25, 2011.  The proposed AVA is notable for its relatively limited viticultural production within the proposed area.  Recently, TTB has taken the position that the ratio of planted and planned vineyard acreage to the total acreage of the viticultural area is an important factor in TTB's evaluation of an AVA petition.  The higher the ratio, the greater the chance of success of the petition through TTB's vetting process.  The proposed Naches Heights viticultural area has 105 acres of commercial vineyards producing or expected to be in production soon.  The entire area encompasses 13,254 acres.  With only 0.79% of the total proposed area committed to viticulture, Naches Heights stands out as an exception to TTB's recently stated policies.

For more information or assistance on AVA formation, contact Carol Kingrey Ritter at

Friday, June 17, 2011

TTB Proposed Rulemaking Published for Coombsville AVA in Napa Valley

On May 24, 2011, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to establish the Coombsville viticultural area within Napa County and the North Coast and Napa Valley AVAs.  TTB is accepting comments on the NPRM until July 25, 2011.  Comments may be submitted online, by mail or in person as specifically provided in the NPRM. 
The proposed Coombsville AVA very closely resembles the previously proposed, and ultimately rejected, Tulocay AVA.  The proposed Coombsville AVA is 11,075 acres as opposed to the previously proposed Tulocay AVA with 11,200 acres.  The reduced size keeps the proposed Coombsville viticultural area within Napa County and the Napa Valley AVA.  After receiving and reviewing public comment on the NPRM proposing to establish the Tulocay AVA, TTB found that "Tulocay" was not the correct geographic name for the viticultural area.  TTB went on to suggest that "Coombsville" or "Coombsville District" might be appropriate names for the area.  As a result, Thomas Farella of Farella-Park Vineyards submitted the Coombsville petition to TTB that is the subject of the current NPRM. 
In addition to seeking general comments in response to the proposal to establish the Coombsville viticultural area, TTB is seeking comments on specific issues raised in the petition and the NPRM, including the sufficiency and accuracy of the name, boundary, climate and soils evidence and, given the proposed Coombsville viticultural area’s location within the existing Napa Valley and North Coast viticultural areas, TTB is seeking comments on whether the evidence submitted in the petition regarding the distinguishing features of the proposed viticultural area sufficiently differentiates the proposed viticultural area from those existing viticultural areas.  To this end, TTB is also interested in comments regarding whether the geographic features of the proposed viticultural area are so distinguishable from the surrounding Napa Valley and North Coast viticultural areas that the proposed Coombsville viticultural area should no longer be part of those viticultural areas.  To review the NPRM go to the following link:
For additional information or assistance on AVA matters contact Carol Kingrey Ritter at

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

E-Verify Requirements for Farm Labor Likely to Increase Following Supreme Court Decision

E-Verify is the federal government’s electronic employment verification system.  It is an Internet-based system that allows an employer, using information reported on an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to determine the eligibility of that employee to work in the United States.  The E-Verify system is operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration.  It is free to employers and is limited to determining the employment eligibility of new hires only.  Proponents of immigration reform hail it as a step in the right direction, while many others raise concerns that the accuracy of the system is unacceptably low and that the system increases the risk of  identify theft.

Participation in E-Verify is voluntary for most businesses.  Some companies are required by state law or federal regulation to use E-Verify.  For example, most employers in Arizona and Mississippi are required to use E-Verify and E-Verify is also mandatory for employers with certain federal contracts (with a performance period over 120 days at a value of over $100,000) or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause.  On May 26, 2011, the United States Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s “Legal Arizona Workers Act,” which contains a mandatory E-Verify requirement to maintain an Arizona business license.  This means that more governmental entities will likely begin making E-Verify a key component in their immigration reform policies.  

California currently does not require employers to use E-Verify and legislation to make it mandatory in the state have so far failed.  Some individual California cities, such as Mission Viejo, Lancaster, Temecula and Lake Elsinore, have passed ordinances requiring the use of E-Verify for all city businesses.  Costa Mesa, San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, and San Jose have all recently considered such legislation.  For now, E-Verify is voluntary for most California businesses.  The federal government through the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has initiated the “I E-Verify” program where businesses that have voluntarily adopted the use of the E-Verify program are recognized on a DHS-created list.  The list is intended to boost the stature of the participating employers with immigration-conscious customers.

We will continue to follow the California trend and report to you as it progresses. 

For more information on labor and employment issues contact Jennifer Phillips at