← Return to Archives - Subscribe to FREE NewsFetch Email Newsletter
From: lewis.perdue@wineindustryinsight.com

Subject: Ruby Grapes sues Intercoastal Wine charging criminal pandemic profiteering. - WINE EXECUTIVE NEWS | August 5, 2020

Date: 2020-08-05 08:48:13

To: Emailing List Subscriber
Please use CMD+F (Mac) or CRTL+ F(Windows) to find your specific search term within this issue of NewsFetch. This "double search" is due to our links sourcing from websites not within WineIndustryInsight.

Ruby Grapes sues Intercoastal Wine charging criminal pandemic profiteering. -- WINE EXECUTIVE NEWS Premium Member Briefing | August 5, 2020


You are receiving this email because you are a premium VIP subscriber to Wine Executive News Premium Member.

If you do not wish to receive this, please click the following link: >>>> [UNSUBSCRIBE] <<<<



Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 1.38.22 PM

VIP Wine Executive News Member Briefing

The premium, VIP service of Wine Industry Insight

From editor & publisher, Lewis Perdue
August 5, 2020


Ruby Grapes sues Intercoastal Wine charging criminal pandemic profiteering.

A Livermore public warehouse/wine and beer wholesaler has sued its Lodi warehouse company in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California charging racketeering, state-of-emergency price gouging, fraud, and other charges.


The plaintiff, Ruby Grapes LLC alleges in its complaint (pdf premium) that Intercoastal Wine Company of Lodi increased storage rates by 1,250% on $7 million worth of wine after Ruby Grapes informed Intercoastal that it would be moving its wine from Intercoastal's warehouse. The complaint states that Ruby Grapes has used Intercoastal Wine since 2018 to store approximately 70,000 gallons of wine for 8 cents per gallon.


California Secretary of State records indicate that Intercoastal is owned by Mitch and Rachele Spaletta of Stockton. Employee Erica Bettencourt was also named as a defendant in the Complaint. Intercoastal Wine's California ABC licenses are currently a Type 17 and a Type 20 Off-Sale (Internet only) for beer and wine.


Ruby Grapes LLC is owned by Raindrop Investments whose CEO is Hakam Mission, CEO of Mission Trading Company, a large global supplier of auto parts. It is licensed by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) as a Type 14 Public Warehouse and Type 17 Beer and Wine Wholesaler.


Public documents do not support other public announcements about the case that there is a winery involved with this case. There may be a Type 02 Winegrower license in transfer, but that is still under investigation by the ABC.


Pandemic profiteering alleged


The huge rate increase, Ruby Grapes alleges in its complaint, would violate California's anti-price-gouging statute that prohibits raising the price by more than 10% of many categories of goods and services after an emergency has been declared. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4, 2020, and Ruby Grapes informed Intercoastal of its intention to move "on or after June 1, according to the complaint."


According to Ruby Grape's complaint, on Friday, July 10, 2020, Intercoastal "provided Plaintiff with a 72-hour notice to either remove their wine or pay $0.50 per gallon, a 625% increase. Given the volume of Wine, Defendants knew that it would be practically impossible for Plaintiff to remove its wine within the 72-hour ultimatum. The notice further provided that Plaintiff could not remove its wine until all invoices were paid."


The storage charges were soon thereafter increased to $1 per gallon: a 1,250% increase.


In addition to the storage increase, the Ruby Grapes complaint stated that Intercoastal, "willfully and intentionally damaged Plaintiff’s wine so that Plaintiff would no longer be a direct competitor of Defendants.....[a]fter Plaintiff provided notice that it would be moving its Wine, Defendants stopped properly storing Plaintiff’s wine."


"Defendants agreed to and did conduct and participate in the enterprise's affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity and for the unlawful purpose of intentionally defrauding and extorting monies from the plaintiff," said the Ruby Grapes complaint.


Ruby Grapes is also charging unfair competition, unjust enrichment, civil conspiracy, and theft by conversion. Ruby Grapes is seeking damages to be determined at trial and an injunction to compel Intercoastal to properly treat wine in its possession.


The Federal Court has set a Case Management Statement deadline of October 28. The Initial Case Management Conference has been set for November 4 in Oakland.


Odd statements about change of ownership hint at sale of Lodi family winery

This section is for premium subscribers.


Premium Subscribers can go directly to the premium version by logging in Here:

Not a Wine Executive News subscriber?

 Subscribe to Wine Executive News now, and get the rest of this original article along with everything else on the site every day, including original documents, spreadsheets,and source materials for just $29.99 per month or $209 per year

New Subscriber Info

You can always contact me directly at: lewis.perdue@wineindustryinsight.com or by replying to this email.

When you sign up for premium, I always check to see if you are also getting the free News Fetch. If not, I sign you up so you will get the news quickly.


3 More places where you can find VIP premium content


Every article that contains premium content will usually be the top link in the daily News Fetch unless some monumental news bumps it to #2.
For your convenience and future reference, all of the News Fetch emails are automatically converted to web pages and can be found here: NewsFetch Newsletter Archives.

In addition, articles that contain premium content will also be in the "Features" category on the Wine Industry Insight web site.

Why 2 billing systems?

Because our billing company of the past nine years was bought by a company that does not accept American Express, we have had to change our subscription process, and the method of accessing premium content. (Here’s more about that.)


================= CONTACT DATA ====================
Lewis Perdue
670 W. Napa St., Suite H, Sonoma, CA 95476
Phone: 707-326-4503, fax: 707-940-4146
Email: lewis.perdue@wineindustryinsight.com