Consumer Products + Manufacturing

Wine

Farella’s dedicated team fulfills a unique need in the wine industry, offering our clients the exclusive combination of the resources of a full-service, urban legal practice with the competitive advantage gained by the firm’s longstanding local presence in the Napa Valley. Our clients benefit directly from our deep ties to the wine community, and from our first-hand knowledge of the people, deals, and issues affecting this dynamic industry that is vital to the Northern California and global economies.

Being on the ground in Napa Valley, we provide the specialized market knowledge, approach and deep industry contacts of a local practice. When needed, we access the depth of Farella’s estate planning, business succession, tax, intellectual property, litigation, environmental, and real estate groups to quickly identify and address our clients’ issues and deploy a focused legal team to resolve them. Our goal is to maximize the opportunities our clients have before them, whether it be an acquisition or disposition, a transition, a brand new venture, or a joint venture with an industry partner.

Our Clients Lead the Industry

We work directly with winery owners, helping them confront the myriad of regulatory, land use, family, and financing constraints inherent in doing business in the industry. We often act as outside general counsel to our clients. By developing close relationships and listening to our clients’ concerns directly from the source, we do not lawyer in a vacuum. Our knowledge of and access to the people involved in the wine industry, as well as our market knowledge as to the deals that are happening, provides us with valuable information that we leverage every day to our clients’ advantage. In doing so, we seek to remove the constraints facing our clients’ families and businesses and devise creative solutions to help them achieve their goals. Our teams are smartly-staffed and nimble—led by one or more Farella partners who remain actively engaged in every facet of a matter.

In addition to winery owners, we also often represent owners of large and small companies in matters ranging from simple contracts or real estate leases to complex, tax-sensitive business transactions and investments. Farella’s lawyers also represent foreign interests looking to diversify in the wake of uncertainty in the European Union.

Serving Clients From Grape to Glass

Farella’s wine industry practice is comprised of skilled lawyers who represent clients across the full spectrum of legal needs. As many of our clients are smaller, privately-held family businesses, our transactional, real estate, land use, estate planning, and business succession planning teams are deeply involved in the practice. Our tax and regulatory lawyers are intimately versed in the unique needs of our wine industry clients. Our team is adept at solving zoning issues that are critical to our wine industry clients’ success and guide our clients to help them navigate interactions with city councils, boards of supervisors and planning commissions. When disputes arise, our litigation teams in intellectual property, environmental, real estate, and land use appear in courtrooms throughout the region and across the United States to protect and defend our wine industry clients’ interests.

Areas of legal needs that we advise our wine industry clients include:

  • Minority and majority investment in wine businesses
  • Land use permits and variances, erosion control, water and waste management, lot line adjustments, CEQA, and environmental compliance
  • Estate planning, succession plan development, wealth transfer, and protection of assets
  • Corporate formation and operational developments, including wine start-ups
  • Due diligence to determine the legal status and market value of brand assets, including complex title, entitlement, and permitting matters
  • Farm management arrangements, grape contracts, and distributor agreements
  • Federal and state regulations on the production, labeling, marketing and distribution of wine, beer, and spirits, as well as on the structuring of licensed entities
  • Compliance with the Bioterrorism Act, California's Proposition 65, and advertising, consumer protection and privacy, e-commerce, trade practice, antitrust, and weights and measures laws
  • Trademarks and other protection of wine-related intellectual property
  • Construction claims, distribution rights and obligations, securities and partnership disputes, employment issues, environmental claims, intellectual property conflicts, and insurance coverage issues

Our Commitment to the Industry

Our commitment to our clients’ success in the wine industry includes our active participation in major agricultural trade groups including the California Association of Winegrape Growers and the Napa County Farm Bureau. We are also active members of the International Wine Lawyers Association.

Noting our decades-long presence in Napa Valley and our St. Helena office serving the needs of our wine industry clients, the widely-read legal news source Law360 recognized our firm as a “California Powerhouse” in 2018. Our lawyers also regularly appear in national and California-based rankings from U.S. News - Best Lawyers, the Daily Journal, The Legal 500 United States, and Super Lawyers and Rising Stars annual lists of the top lawyers in Northern California.

Firm Highlights

Publication

How Changes to California’s Fire Regulations Could Affect North Coast Housing Projects

Both the Board of Forestry and the State Senate are considering changes to state fire regulations that would affect real estate development in California. The first set of changes can be found in the...

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Publication

Mitigating the Uncertainty of Smoke Taint in Wine Grapes

Smoke taint has dominated the worries of the California wine industry recent years. With unsettled climate conditions and continued droughts, there is no reason to think that smoke taint will not continue to be...

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Publication

New Statewide Winery Order: What Wineries Need to Know

Buzz Hines and John Ugai, along with guest speakers, Timothy Simpson and Mehran Ebrahimi from GSI Environmental Inc, discuss "New Statewide Winery Order: What Wineries Need to Know." The new statewide General Waste Discharge...

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News

Calif. Wineries Prep for Coverage Fight for Wildfire Smoke

Tyler Gerking spoke to Law360 for the article "Calif. Wineries Prep for Coverage Fight for Wildfire Smoke."  An insurance recovery partner, Tyler said he has heard from many wineries and vineyards that have voiced concerns...

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Publication

Fire Season Preparedness: What Wineries Should Do Now - Video

Farella's Quinn Arntsen and MaryJo Lopez with guest speaker Christopher Thompson of Napa Communities Firewise Foundation discuss "Fire Season Preparedness: What Wineries Should Do Now." California is at the start of another dry year...

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Publication

Preparing Your Wine Business for California's New 2022 Employment Laws

Farella employment lawyers Chandra Andrade and Rebecca Stephens discuss California's new employment laws affecting wine businesses, what to look for, and what to do next, including: Template employment document updates in light of amendments to...

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Publication

Navigating the Wine Industry’s Property Insurance Conundrum

Property insurance is both a prudent choice by a business, as well as, in certain circumstances, a requirement, such as when a winery borrows money from a bank or commercial lender. If and when...

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News

Selling a Wine Business? Here’s What You Need to Know

Lauren Galbraith was quoted in the Wine Industry Advisor article "Selling a Wine Business? Here’s What You Need to Know." Read the full article here .

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Publication

Disaster Matters: Property Insurance and the Wine Industry

Farella's Alexis Sinclair with guest speakers: Marc Levine from California's 10th Assembly District, Michael Miiller from California Association of Winegrape Growers, Mike Ryan from InterWest, and Jed Taborski from Silicon Valley Bank, discuss "Disaster Matters...

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News

Successful Succession Planning for Family-Owned Wine Businesses

Family Wealth Partner Lauren Galbraith spoke with Jeff Siegel for the Wine Industry Network article "Successful Succession Planning for Family-Owned Wine Businesses."  Read the full article here . 

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