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SOMM star sued by Napa Valley event and tour company

 

Has SOMM star Dustin Wilson followed his verve across a forbidden legal line with his retail operation and associated businesses?

 

Napa Valley luxury wine event and tour company founder Mary T. Beller thinks so.

 

Beller, who owns Verve Wine Country LLC (aka Verve Napa Valley)  has sued Verve Management LLC — owned by Wilson and partner Derrick Mize. The complaint was filed May 25 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Napa law firm Dickenson, Peatman and Fogarty .

 

According to court documents, Verve Wine Country’s lawsuit alleges a substantial list of federal and state law violations including trademark/trade dress infringements, and unfair competition/business practices.

 

Verve Management had not yet filed a legal response as of May 29. The initial case management conference is scheduled for August 23.

Verve Wine Country

According to Beller’s legal complaint, Verve Wine Country’s services also include:

“Concierge services, food, wine and alcohol information and education (including winemaking and wine blending classes), sommelier services, wine collector/cellar consultations, recommendations for wine and food pairing, planning and booking wine tours and tastings, and private events most often featuring food and wine. Plaintiff’s activities regularly result in significant wine sales on the part of its alcohol industry partners, which include hundreds of alcohol beverage producers, retailers and other businesses in Northern California.”

In addition to the use of “Verve” and its variations (Verve Wine Country, Verve Napa Valley, Verve Destination Management) since 2012, Beller’s complaint notes that her company “has continuously used in commerce the tagline CURATED WINE TOURS to market and sell its services worldwide, including in the State of California and throughout the United States, and from at least April 30, 2014 expanded such tagline to CURATED WINE COUNTRY TOURS AND EVENTS.”

Verve Management violations alleged

Verve Management’s primary operation so far has been Verve Wine: an online wine sales operation combined with a Tribeca-area retail store in New York City. In April Verve Wine announced it was opening a San Francisco store and starting a region-oriented, by-subscription wine club, The Grand Tour.

 

According to Beller’s Verve Wine Country complaint:

“[I]n or around November 2016, Defendant Verve  Management LLC began doing business under the names and marks VERVE, VERVE MANAGEMENT, VERVE WINE, VERVE WINE & SPIRITS and THE GRAND TOUR BY VERVE WINE, and using associated CURATED branding, such as the taglines EXPERTLY CURATED and SOMMELIER CURATED WINES (collectively hereafter the “Infringing and incorporating a similar blue and white color palette motif (at times incorporating yellow-orange accents) for its signage, store interior, website, and other branding.”

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Complaint Document Available to Wine Executive News Premium Subscribers

The full text of the Verve v. Verve Complaint is available to premium subscribers of Wine Executive News.

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