Villa Maria not threatening Sainsbury’s with legal action over label

Despite reports to the contrary, Villa Maria is not threatening Sainsbury’s with legal action over the supermarket’s own-label Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc called Villetta.

Although db ran a news story on 2 June about the similarity between Sainsbury’s Villetta and Villa Maria, it was New Zealand’s Bob Cambell MW who was the first to write about the resemblance. Picture credit: The Real Review

Following a story on Business Insider last month, and picked up by the drinks business yesterday, we were contacted by Patrick McGrath, who is the head of Villa Maria’s UK importer, Hatch Mansfield, who made it clear that at no point has Villa Maria suggested legal action in relation to the Villetta label.

While he acknowledged that Villa Maria is concerned about the similarities in appearance between its brand and the own-label that appeared on the shelves of Sainsbury’s earlier this year, he also stressed that, as managing director of the UK agent for the well-known New Zealand winery, he was personally dealing with the matter through constructive dialogue with the supermarket.

In fact, ahead of the news that featured on Business Insider, which claimed that Villa Maria founder Sir George Fistonich​ was seeking legal advice, db had already exposed the striking resemblance between long-established New Zealand brand Villa Maria and Sainsbury’s own-label Villetta Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

In February, Sedimentblog drew attention to the striking resemblance between the world’s biggest Chilean wine brand and Sainsbury’s new private-label. Picture source: sedimentblog.co.uk

Writing on 2 June this year, having visited a branch of Sainsbury’s on London’s Clapham High Street that same day, it was noted that Sainsbury’s Villetta Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has, like Villa Maria, a white label with a gold surround, while the supermarket own-label wine has a similar wing-like logo in almost the same shade of red as the producer brand.

We also noted at the time that wine retailers are awash with private-label lookalikes of leading brands, while the discounters, such as Aldi and Lidl, which only stock exclusive lines, are littered with products that either appear like famous equivalents, or sound like them.

However, we also pointed out that the Villetta Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is not the first label to appear on the shelves of Sainsbury’s that bears a resemblance to a market-leading brand.

Indeed, in January, the grocer introduced a new private-label range of Chilean wines called Camino del Angel that appears as though it was chosen to be similar to Chile’s largest wine brand Casillero del Diablo.

Not only that, but the packaging of the supermarket label seems to incorporate almost identical features to the established Chilean brand, from the appearance of the capsule, to the font type, emblem design, and white, red and black colour scheme.

As we featured more than one month ago, in both cases, the producer brands and the own-label lines are on the shelves, but occupying different levels – as you can see in the pictures below.

On each previous occasion we have reported on such similarities, Sainsbury’s has been contacted for comment, but has failed to respond.

This photograph taken by db on 2 June shows Villa Maria (top) and Villetta (below) in Sainbury’s on Clapham High Street, London

And this one shows Casillero del Diablo (top shelf) and Camino del Angel (bottom) in the same store

2 Responses to “Villa Maria not threatening Sainsbury’s with legal action over label”

  1. Charles says:

    I suppose ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ but a less charitable view is that it comes close to plagarism.

    If the supermarkets believe in the quality of their product they ought not to feel the need to confuse the consumer unless of course the confusion is deliberate……..!

  2. No publicity is bad publicity. Let’s not get too cynical.

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