Photo: vinAmité Cellars owner Ray Coulombe
A trademark conflict is causing vinPerdu Cellars of Oliver
to change its name to vinAmité Cellars.
Proprietor Ray Coulombe (ironically a former advertising
executive) is rebranding to avoid confusion with Napa Valley wine called Vin
defines the new name this way: “vinAmité: Harmony, a meeting of minds, a
joining of Old World and New World approaches, a family of wines for family and
friends. Living in harmony with each other and with our wines is felt by
customers who visit us and get to know our wines.”
previous name of this winery, which opened its tasting room last year, meant
hidden wine. “Only the name has changed,” Ray said in a news release. “There
are no changes to our line of fine wines other than their natural evolution
conflicts are nothing new in the wine industry. Several recent examples come to
Vineyard on Vancouver Island released a red several years ago under the brand,
Fusion. The winery seldom produces more than 100 cases of this each year.
an Argentina winery launched a hugely successful wine under the name, Fuzion,
selling thousands of cases across North America. Rather than take a David vs
Goliath stand, Alderlea’s owner, Roger Dosman, simply sold his brand to the
Argentinians and renamed his wine, Matrix.
the Okanagan, Prudence Mahrer launched Ruby Tuesday Winery in 2009, naming the
Naramata Road producer after her favourite Rolling Stones song. Unfortunately
for her, there already was a massive restaurant chain in the United States
(with one outlet in Niagara Falls) called Ruby Tuesday.
their lawyers wrote Prudence, her first instinct was to fight them. However,
financial prudence prevailed and she switched her winery’s name to Ruby Blues.
The name change appears not to have had any impact on the throngs of consumers
in the winery’s parking lot.
Albertyn, the winemaker and co-proprietor at Maverick Estate Winery, has had
lightning strike twice. He called his flagship red blend Rubicon even though a
California winery had operated as Rubicon between 2006 and 2011 when the owner,
Francis Ford Coppola, changed it to the historic name of Inglenook.
got no kickback from Coppola about Rubicon. However, Meerlust Estate in
Stellenbosch, South Africa, also has a red called Rubicon which, according to
South African wine writer John Platter, is “among SA’s original Bordeaux-style
reds.” Having trained in Stellenbosch, Bertus would have been aware of the wine
but also counted on the fact that Meerlust is not in this market.
Meerlust had a recent ownership change and the new owners took a more
aggressive stance on protecting the brand globally. Maverick changed the name
of its wine to Rubeus. To paraphrase Ray Coulombe, nothing else has changed: it
still is one of the best red wines in the Okanagan.
also named Maverick’s port-style wine Sofia, after one of his children. This
time, he heard from Coppola, who has a line of wines in California under the
Sofia label. Bertus now calls his wine Fia.
anyone in the industry will tell you, if is increasingly difficult to come up
with original names for wines or wineries that have not already been
trademarked. A winery owner in Washington State once complained to me that “the
car companies own all the best names.”
a wine writer can get tangled in trademark issues. I was once dragged into a dispute
between an Okanagan winemaker no longer in business and an Oregon winery called
Sokol Blosser over a trademark called Evolution.
Canadian producer had trademarked a package, not a wine, as Evolution. When he
tried to get Sokol Blosser to cease and desist, the Americans hired a
crackerjack trademark lawyer to research how actively the Canadian was using
lawyer phoned, among others, several wine writers. I don’t know what others
said. I did not think the Canadian Evolution was still in the market. In fact,
I had to be reminded that the package had won an award in 2005 at an industry
lunch I attended.
Canadian winery owner was incensed that I had, without meaning to, undermined
his case against Sokol Blosser. He never spoke to me again.