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

CARES Act Money for Wineries?

Beginning tomorrow morning, April 3 rd , the Small Business Administration will begin accepting applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under the new CARES Act. Amid the flurry of news, small winery owners may...

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News

Farella Braun + Martel Announces 2020 Partner Elevations

SAN FRANCISCO/ST. HELENA, Calif., January 21, 2020: Northern California legal powerhouse Farella Braun + Martel is pleased to announce the election of senior associates Evan Abrams, Lauren Galbraith, and Alex Reese to the partnership...

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News

Farella Advises on Sale of Diamond Creek Winery to Maison Louis Roederer

SAN FRANCISCO/ST. HELENA, March 16, 2020: Farella Braun + Martel represented the family of the late Boots Brounstein on the sale of their Diamond Creek Winery in Calistoga, Calf. to French Champagne producer Maison...

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Publication

Wine Businesses, Lenders, and Difficult Conversations

The COVID-19 pandemic and public health efforts to combat it will impact different wine businesses in different ways. Those that depend on on-premise and direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, such as restaurant, hospitality, and tasting room...

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News

North Bay Wineries Taking Insurers to Court Over Denied Smoke Taint Claims

Tyler Gerking, chair of Farella's Insurance Recovery Group, was quoted in the Napa Valley Register article, "North Bay Wineries Taking Insurers to Court Over Denied Smoke Taint Claims." In the article, Tyler said he would expect...

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Publication

Force Majeure and Contractual Non-Performance During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Never in the experience of most of us has an event so thoroughly interrupted business as usual as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Everywhere, contract parties facing severe stress in their businesses are reassessing their contractual...

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Publication

Updated California Shelter-In-Place Orders Include New Requirement for Social Distancing Protocol

Several California counties updated their Shelter-In-Place orders to extend the compliance period and to further define and restrict essential business activities. An overview of the new restriction was published by Farella here . One...

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News

Farella Represents the Bundschu Company in its Acquisition of Valley of the Moon Winery

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5, 2020: Farella Braun + Martel represented the Bundschu Company in its acquisition of the 60 acre winery and vineyard property at the historic Rancho Agua Caliente in Glen Ellen, California...

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Event

Coronavirus Was Unexpected, but Is It Force Majeure? (Webinar)

Join speakers, Matt Lewis and Janice Reicher, on the webinar discussing "Coronavirus Was Unexpected, but Is It Force Majeure?"

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Publication

Is Your Wine Business an Essential Business?

As of March 18 th , eight Bay Area counties have issued “Shelter-In-Place” orders for all residents.  These counties include Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and Napa counties...

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