Category: Wine Law

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IRS Publishes New Audit Technique Guide for Wineries and Vineyards

The IRS recently issued a new Audit Technique Guide (“ATG”, available here) applicable to winery and vineyard operations. As with previous IRS guidance, the new ATG is meant to be used by IRS examiners; however the IRS anticipates the industry will rely upon the publication as a guide. It should be noted, the ATG should not … Continue Reading

Court Upholds San Diego County’s Winery Ordinance

On April 15th, a California Superior Court Judge denied a challenge to San Diego County’s new Winery Ordinance. The Ordinance, passed in 2010 and available here, eases restrictions on tasting rooms and sales for smaller producers and allows others to essentially “fast-track” registration as a “small winery” with such designation allowing for pre-approved events, such … Continue Reading

California State Water Board Moves on Frost Protection Program

The State Water Resources Control Board (“Board”) held a workshop last week on a proposed regulation designed to assess and mitigate water use from the Russian River by growers in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties during frost season. Though no formal action took place, the Board received numerous comments on the proposed regulation. The regulation would … Continue Reading

Stoel Rives Attorneys Speak at Wine Conference

This past week, Stoel Rives partners Chris Hermann and John McKinsey and associate Jake Storms all participated as panel speakers at the Best Practices for Owning and Operating a Winery conference, held at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, CA. John also acted as co-host of the conference, which covered a wide variety of … Continue Reading

Napa County Farm Bureau Holds Water Forum

On March 9th, the Napa County Farm Bureau held its first water forum in five or six years in St. Helena, California. Kicked off by Bureau President Jim Lincoln, the event was well attended, with over 100 concerned stakeholders listening to the most recent updates in California water issues. Phillip Miller, the Deputy Director of … Continue Reading

Sonoma Sets Fees, Program Schedule for Frost Protection Program

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has adopted the final measures for moving ahead with the County’s Frost Protection Program (the “Program”). This final act was merely a carry-over from the February 8 meeting where the Board adopted the fee structure for the Program and extended the time frame for implementation of the Program until 2012. … Continue Reading

Join us for our 2nd Annual Washington Wine Law Seminar

  Join Stoel Rives winery and vineyard attorneys and featured speaker Sean P. Sullivan, Editor, Washington Wine Report, on Thursday, February 17, at the 2nd Annual Washington Wine Law Seminar, in Woodinville, Washington at The Hollywood Schoolhouse. This seminar will address these pertinent topics and more: Regulatory Q&A panel The use of social media to promote your winery … Continue Reading

Join us for our 4th Annual Oregon Wine Law Seminar

Join Stoel Rives winery and vineyard attorneys this Thursday, February 3, at the 4th Annual Oregon Wine Law Seminar, in Newberg, Oregon at The Allison Inn & Spa. This seminar will address these pertinent topics and more: The use of social media to promote your winery Distillery operations at a winery Scope of permissible commercial activities – … Continue Reading

TTB Adopts New, Softer Rules for AVAs

 The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has, in a final rule/treasury decision (available here), issued new and revised regulations with respect to three formerly confusing areas pertaining to American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): brand names that conflict with AVA designations, the AVA application process, and the existence of smaller AVAs inside currently existing … Continue Reading

Renewable Electricity and Wine – A Perfect Pairing

     While wineries and vineyards have long been moving toward being “green,” several have taken the next step by installing renewable energy generation onsite. One of the most recent is August Cellars, just outside Newberg, Oregon. The winery recently installed a 150-foot-tall, 50-kilowatt wind turbine. August Cellars maneuvered around the somewhat prohibitive cost of the … Continue Reading

Conjunctive Labeling Comes to Sonoma County

               With the turn of the calendar and after nearly a year of political wrangling, conjunctive labeling will be the norm for Sonoma County wineries beginning in 2014. Passed by unanimous vote in both the state assembly and senate in August and signed by Governor Schwartzenegger at the end of September, AB 1798 will require … Continue Reading

New California Law Streamlines Instructional Tasting Licenses

          On the list of California laws affecting the wine industry in the New Year is AB 605 – the Instructional Tasting Events License. Introduced in 2009 and signed into law September 23, 2010, AB 605 adds to the Business and Professions Code sections 23396.6 and 25503.56. The additions allow the ABC to issue a … Continue Reading


On Tuesday, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance creating a plan designed to protect both vineyard frost protection measures and endangered species in the Russian River. After nearly a year of negotiations, the Board added Section 11B to the County Code, creating a registration program for grapegrowers and plan to assess … Continue Reading

Hermann attends Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin Gathering

 The Oregon chapter of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Sous-Commanderie de Portland held its first event on November 29 at Park Kitchen in downtown Portland.  Chapter member Scott  Wright of Scott Paul Wines presented "A Graduate Course: Burgundy 501."  We tasted four flights of White and Red Burgundy from Chablis and the Cote d’Or.  The presentation was superb … Continue Reading

California High-Speed Rail: Vineyards in California’s Central Valley Could be Impacted by its Tracks

  A legal update from our colleague Stacy Gillespie. The California High-Speed Rail Authority (“Authority”) will announce at its December 2, 2010 meeting which segment of the 800-mile HSR will be the first to be built. At its November 4, 2010 meeting, the Authority’s Chief Executive Officer, Roelof van Ark, presented the Authority’s Board members … Continue Reading

Stoel Winery Lawyers Attend Salud!

Last weekend, Stoel winery lawyers attended Salud! and enjoyed visiting with clients and friends at Domaine Drouhin on Friday afternoon and the Governor Hotel on Saturday evening.  Proceeds from this year’s Oregon Pinot Noir Auction topped $650,000, a reported 7 percent increase from 2009.  Donations help support the Salud! mission of providing Oregon’s seasonal vineyard works … Continue Reading