Monthly Archive for December, 2009

A very alert local news media…

We posted our previous blog, about an unnamed conglomerate, and their possible use of a ‘Santa Barbara’ label on Tuesday morning and by noon a reporter from the Santa Barbara News Press had spoken to several members of the Santa Barbara Winery staff to get more information and by Wednesday morning there was a front page article.

We first got wind of this from a former employee of the Foster Wine Group who casually mentioned, to a staff member, that ‘Santa Barbara’ kept coming up on top in focus groups the company was conducting. We don’t think he was alerting us, but rather congratulating us for our prescience. We then learnt from other sources that they were in serious developement.

You can’t copyright the name of a city but we believe  that similar labels will lead to confusion in the market. Different prices, different quality, similar name.

A year ago another large Wine Group put out a Chardonnay, it had a different name, but it matched our Chardonnay label in format, color and font. The wine was not of good quality and the retail price was below our production costs. It caused a lot of confusion. Fortunately, it disappeared quickly, but it may come back. There were a lot of unsold grapes this year and many companies thrive on exploiting distressed grape growers and buying them at rock bottom prices. Better than letting them rot in the field.

Grapes go in cycles, but unlike most agricultural products, there is a 3 year lag before you can harvest. The cycles eventually correct themselves but it can be painful.

It has come to our attention…

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery. A large conglomerate, based outside of the US, is planning on coming out with a label called ‘Santa Barbara Wine’. It doesn’t take much of a genius to see that such a label might be confusing with ‘Santa Barbara Winery’. We hope that this confusion is not intentional.

This conglomerate does have vineyards in Santa Barbara County and already has several labels identified with Santa Barbara and the county. Our label ‘Santa Barbara Winery’ has existed since 1962 and our distribution is in all but a few states as well as several countries but it is not in Australia.

Some have argued that we may, unintentionally, benefit from the confusion since they will undoubtedly spend much more on marketing than we can and the confusion would then benefit us. But confusion in the market-place is never a good thing and in the market-place David does not slay Goliath, just the opposite. We will write to the ATF and bring it to their attention and if anyone out there would like to help us here is the address to write to:

Assistant Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Department of the Treasury, Washington, DC 20226

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 The Last Day of Pressing at Lafond Winery & Vineyards

Today we pressed the last of our Syrah. These are lots that underwent extended maceration. After fermenting dry the wine was kept with the grapes for an extended time – three weeks or more.

Winemaker, Bruce McGuire, does this only with lots that he thinks are exceptional. The resulting wines are more complex, darker and more intense. And as in most years the last pressing is close to Christmas. Images are of today’s pressing.

Gift Cards

Are you stuck for a gift?

 You don’t know what to get? Our Gift Card is not only for wines but is honored at all our stores.
Fashion from 4 very different Clothing Stores, Gifts from our incredible Upstairs Home Gallery, our Wine Bistro Restaurant and California Cuisine, Pierre Lafond Market , and, of course, excellent wines… Solve your problem with a gift that is sure to be appreciated, one that will never go out of style and is certain to fit.

Call 805 963 3633 or go to our website and order directly. We will mail the Gift Card with a note from you.

Snow in the Mountains

Winter has really arrived when we see snow on the mountains and frost on the ground when overnight temperatures drop below freezing. Photo taken Tuesday, December 8, at noon.