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Courtwatch: Family Feuds Over Tudal Winery

John Tudal is suing his two sisters, Janet Tudal Baltas and Marilyn Tudal-Fidge, over their refusal to sell him Tudal Winery on Big Tree Road near St. Helena, according to the complaint filed in Napa County Superior Court this week. The winery, which their parents built in 1979, is also home to John Tudal's label, Cerruti Cellars
by Kerana Todorov
February 09, 2018

A Napa Valley winery is at the center of a family feud, with a brother fighting two sisters in court over the family winery, according court records.

John Tudal is suing his two sisters, Janet Tudal Baltas and Marilyn Tudal-Fidge, over their refusal to sell him Tudal Winery on Big Tree Road near St. Helena, according to the complaint filed in Napa County Superior Court this week. The winery, which their parents built in 1979, is also home to John Tudal’s label, Cerruti Cellars.

Tudal alleged in his lawsuit their mother, the late Alma Tudal, in 2013 agreed to a five-year lease agreement, allowing him to lease Tudal Winery, according to the complaint. The lease agreement also gave him the exclusive right to buy the property for $3.5 million, according to the complaint for alleged breach of contract. The dispute include the winery, a house and an adjacent lot where a second residence is located.

Tudal said he has spent about $75,000 on maintenance at the winery over the years, according to court records.

But Tudal Baltas and Tudal-Fidge consider the 2013 lease void, according to court records. On Jan. 5, they said Tudal Winery was going to “’ignore’” the purchase option included in the lease agreement, John Tudal reported in his lawsuit.

Cerruti Cellars may be evicted from the winery at 1015 Big Tree Road if Tudal’s sisters have their way, according to court records. Cerruti Cellars, named after Alma Tudal’s father, is listed as a plaintiff in the complaint.

In 2011, Cerruti Cellars opened a tasting room in Oakland’s Jack London Square. The tasting room closed last fall when the building was sold, according to news and social media reports.

Alma Tudal died in January 2016. John Tudal in June 2016 sued his sisters over the validity of their mother’s will which had left him out, according to the lawsuit filed in San Mateo County, where Tudal-Fidge resided. Tudal Baltas is from Herndon, Va.

His sisters responded that their mother had loaned John Tudal $2.25 million, according to court records. With accrued interests, the money owed totaled $3.1 million, according to court records. The sisters noted Alma Tudal had made no such loans to them, according to the court filings. The case has not been resolved.

In his complaint filed this week, John Tudal said his sisters retaliated in December by initiating proceedings to evict him and Cerruti Cellars from Tudal Winery, according to court documents.

Cerruti Cellars’ tasting room in Oakland closed last year, according to news report and social media posts.
Tudal declined to speak on the record. An attorney representing his sisters could not be reached to comment on the lawsuit.

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