Press Release: Robert Mondavi Winery Corporation Fraudulently Acquired Trademarks & Monopolized Historic Napa Legacy
July 10, 2019
The Robert Mondavi Winery Corporation fraudulently acquired trademarks "ToKalon" & "ToKalon Vineyard" and monopolized one of the most famed and revered legacies in Napa Valley. The true legacy of H.W. Crabb and the famed ToKalon estate that he planted over 150 years ago is not solely owned by one beverage giant – but is shared by many in Napa Valley.
“The legacy of the iconic ToKalon estate and the wine and viticulture pioneer H.W. Crabb represent a specific place within Napa Valley and a unique history that is well documented and not owned exclusively by one corporation. It is truly fraudulent to misrepresent that famed legacy and that unique history for one corporation to own their exclusive use,” stated Jeremy Nickel, The Vineyard House.
To trademark "ToKalon" & "ToKalon Vineyard" the Robert Mondavi Winery Corporation fraudulently claimed that “ToKalon” had little historical or geographic significance while knowing that it did. In a November 30, 1987 affidavit supporting their trademark application to the United States Patent & Trademark Office the Robert Mondavi Winery Corporation claimed:
The affidavit is fraudulent because the Robert Mondavi Winery Corporation knew that “ToKalon” was indeed significant and that it had meaning and significance in the wine industry, especially as the geographical name of a specific vineyard. The Robert Mondavi Winery Corporation commissioned a study by wine historian William Heintz that confirmed the importance of the “ToKalon” name and property. In a letter from wine historian William Heintz on March 8, 1979 and addressed to Tim Mondavi at the Robert Mondavi Winery, Heintz offers to prepare a report on the history and legacy of H.W. Crabb’s ToKalon and summarizes Crabb’s importance within the state’s wine history.
In a subsequent letter from William Heintz to Tim Mondavi at the Robert Mondavi Winery and dated March 7, 1980 that accompanied the completed report Heintz authored at the request of the Mondavis and titled “The Vineyards and Wine of H.W. Crabb, Oakville, Ca. and His ToKalon Label” Heinz references the extensive information that is available on the importance of the “ToKalon” name.
“Growing up in the Napa Valley I learned the importance of preserving and protecting our unique heritage and history that help to make Napa Valley such a special place from my father. He instilled in me the importance of place and history and the people who lived that history. It has been my lifelong passion to preserve that history for future generations so that they can better understand the pioneers like H.W. Crabb who helped to forge the early history of the Napa Valley that we all love so much,” stated Nickel.
H.W. Crabb’s ToKalon estate began with an initial purchase of 240 acres in 1868 and expanded with the acquisition of 119 acres in 1879 and 168 acres in 1889. At ToKalon, Crabb helped establish Napa Valley as a premier wine region through his experimentation with varietals, production of high-quality wine, and vine cutting sales. As a pioneering viticulturalist and winemaker, he was respected for his technical expertise and shared his extensive knowledge through lectures and articles. At the time of Crabb’s death in 1899, the 527-acre ToKalon estate was regarded as one of the most significant vineyards in Napa Valley.