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


Farella Advises Third Leaf Partners in Chatterbox Wine Marketing Acquisition

San Francisco, March 27, 2019: Farella Braun + Martel represented Third Leaf Partners in its acquisition of Chatterbox Wine Marketing, a direct-to-consumer sales group based in Napa, CA. Daniel E. Cohn and Carolina de...

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San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board Adopts General Permit for Vineyard Properties in the Napa River and Sonoma Creek Watersheds

Over the last several years, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, for the San Francisco Bay Region (Water Board), determined that adoption of Waste Discharge Requirements were needed to better protect the Napa River...

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Farella Braun + Martel Announces 2019 New Partner Elevations

SAN FRANCISCO, January 22, 2019: Farella Braun + Martel LLP is pleased to announce the election of senior associates Quinn Arntsen and Daniel Callaway to the partnership effective January 1, 2019. “Quinn and Dan...

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How to Plan for Successful Winery, Vineyard Business Succession

Harnessing the energy and ambition that tends to surface at the start of a new year, now may be a good time to consider your personal estate and business succession planning. Developing a plan...

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New California Laws Restrict Employer Access to Criminal and Pay Histories

Published by the North Bay Business Journal . If you are planning to hire new employees to work in your winery, you should be aware of two new employment laws that restrict employers from...

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Succession Planning for Wineries and Vineyards

As wine families tend their grapes, so too should they tend their business succession planning. Wineries and vineyards are unique assets to consider when crafting personal financial, estate and business succession plans for clients,...

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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: Legal Strategies for Smoke-Exposed Grapes

Following on last year’s Northern California firestorm in Napa, Lake, Sonoma, Mendocino, Butte and Solano counties, various North Bay regions have also seen wildfires in 2018. A large wildfire in Mendocino and Lake counties...

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