California winery suing NY distributor for rejecting ‘smoke tainted’ wines

California estate Westside Winery is suing Long Island wine distributor SMT Acquisitions for wrongly accusing it of selling wines from the 2017 vintage that were affected with smoke taint.

Westside Winery is suing SMT Acquisitions for wrongly accusing it of selling 2017 wines that were affected with smoke taint

As reported by the New York Post, SMT Acquisitions rejected 4,841 cases of Noble Tree wine from the Sonoma-based Westside Winery because it believed the grapes used to make it were exposed to smoke from California wildfires.

The Port Washington-based firm was under contract to accept Noble Tree wines from the 2017 vintage according to the Brooklyn Federal Court claim filed by Westside Winery.

Noble Tree wines from the 2017 vintage were rejected by SMT

“SMT Acquisitions asserts it is not obligated to take possession of, or pay for, the 2017 wines on the basis that they are purportedly ‘smoke tainted’ due to certain California wild fires. It’s simply not true,” said the claim filed by Westside.

As reported by the New York Post, the grapes used to make the 2017 Noble Tree wines “were harvested and in indoor storage tanks before the wild fire referenced by SMT Acquisitions”.

Westside is suing SMT for the US$400,000 it is owed for the rejected 2017 wine.

Smoke taint is an ongoing problem in wine regions like California that are prone to wildfires, and the issue is being exacerbated by climate change.

However, grapes affected with smoke taint rarely end up in bottled wines as wineries reject them before they make it into the crusher.

“Wineries choose to err on the side of caution and reject problem grapes rather than accept grapes that would compromise the reputation of their brands,” John Aguirre of the California Association of Winegrape Growers told the NY Post.

The association recently donated US$1.5 million in federal funding to study the issue of smoke taint in wines.

Westside Wines produces a number of different wines under the Noble Tree brand, including a Russian River Valley Chardonnay, a Russian River Valley Grenache, and Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County.

Last August, the Mendocino Complex fires grew to become the largest fire in California’s history, spreading over an area of 469 square miles, with smoke from the fires reaching as far as New York.

A couple of Mendocino County wineries, including Fetzer Vineyards, were issued evacuation orders, but Lake County vineyards bore the brunt of the smoke, with staff having to be sent home due to the fires.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

We encourage debate in the comments section and always welcome feedback, but if you spot something you don't think is right, we ask that you leave an accurate email address so we can get back to you if we need to.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Key Account Manager

MMI Maldives

Financial Controller

London City Bond
Barking, UK

Duty Manager

The Whisky Exchange
Great Portland Street, London

Spirits Advisor

The Whisky Exchange
London, UK

International Sales Manager

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London, UK

Brand Marketing Executive

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London, UK

Cellar Door Manager

House of Townend
Melton, North Ferriby, UK

Marketing Manager

The Whisky Exchange
Whitby Avenue, Park Royal, London NW10 7SF

Millésime Bio 2020

27th Jan 2020

Maisons Marques et Domaines Annual Tasting

London,United Kingdom
29th Jan 2020

Austrian Wine Tasting

London,United Kingdom
3rd Feb 2020
Click to view more