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To-Kalon lawsuit dismissed, then reinstated and combined as both parties refile, but “iconic” still all about myth, Benjamins, and grapes at $38K/Ton

NOTE 1:Following is the WII’s original article. A new headline and litigation summary  have been added.

NOTE 2 : To Kalon has variously been written as To-Kalon and ToKalon. We have chosen to use the version with a hyphen because that is the style used by the U.S. National Park Service in their Historic Landscapes Survey  (large pdf. Be patient with download).

Brief Litgation Summary

  • TVH filed suit against RMW March 11, 2019
  • The TVH action was dismissed (with leave to amend) on June 27, 2019
  • TVH refiled and requested a preliminary injunction to stop RMW from using To Kalon on its wines on Nov. 18, 2019
  • RMW then filed its own complaint against TVH on Jan. 10, 2020
  • The Judge ordered the cases consolidated into TVH’s existing case number on Feb. 25.


Jeremy Nickel’s federal lawsuit against Constellation/Robert Mondavi Winery over its To-Kalon trademark  was dismissed by a federal judge yesterday, but still remains  an ongoing story that is very much more than meets the eye … and less.


On June 27, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California handed Nickel a setback by by dismissing the lawsuit “with leave to amend.” (Full legal documents for premium subscribers). Her decision gives Nickel/Vineyard House until  today (July 1)  to file an amended complaint to re-start the litigation.


Nickel on June 30, emailed Wine Industry Insight the following statement which summarizes part of his original complaint to say he intends to file an amended complaint today and issued this


The Judge criticized Vineyard House’s filings and said that they had not argued its Lanham Act/trademark issues properly.


The parties have been dug in. Constellation has wanted the case dismissed and has gotten its way, if only temporarily. Vineyard House as an opportunity push its arguments


The opposing  points of view are summarized in their respective case management statements (Full legal documents for premium subscribers).


  • Constellation Case Management Statement – 06/10/19

  • Vineyard House Case Management Statement – 06/11/19

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  • Layers and layers of details from Vintage House did not sway judge

  • Iconic = An Enological Triptych: Wine price + grape price = vineyard real estate price.  The Napa Valley $ ratio.

  • The Crabb Genesis

  • Mondavi goes all “dog in the manger”

  • Price of cult To-Kalon grapes for über expensive cult wines? Upwards of $37,000/ton

  • But To-Kolon isn’t the only “Big Benjamin” Vineyard

  • Special Fruit Must Stay Scarce: It’s not about quality but exclusivity

  • Special Fruit Must Also Maintain Its Myth

  • The Vineyard House still has opportunity to make a case why trademark should be invalidated

Map from The True Story of To-Kalon Vineyard by Matt Stamp. Right-click map to view a larger image.

Premium Subscriber documents

  • To-Kalon – Historic Landscapes Survey – U.S. National Park Service

  • Vineyard House Napa County Parcel Report

  • Vineyard House Parcel Map

  • Vineyard House v. Constellation Brands – Complaint – 03/18/19

  • Vineyard House – Exhibits to Complaint

  • Dismissal With Leave To Amend – 062719

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