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Growers Sue Napa Winemaker for Rejecting Grapes Allegedly Tainted by Smoke

In the end, the Cabernet Sauvignon was left unpicked.
by Kerana Todorov
April 10, 2018

A Calistoga couple has filed suit against a Napa Valley winemaker for refusing the pair’s Cabernet Sauvignon last fall because of alleged smoke taint from the October fires, according to court records. Ronald and Linda DeKoven of Calistoga alleged Christopher Tynan and his business, Christopher Tynan Wines LLC, failed to accept and pay $52,500 for the fruit, according to the lawsuit filed April 3 in Napa County Superior Court. 

Christopher Tynan agreed in March 2017 to purchase 4 to 5 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon at $7,500 a ton from the DeKovens, according to court records. Full payment was due in Dec. 31, according to the agreement between the DeKovens and Tynan, and the fruit was supposed to be delivered at a winery in Yountville.

“Defendants unreasonably rejected the harvest asserting that the subject crop was allegedly tainted due to poor air quality, including, but not limited to, smoke and ash,” according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs did “all of the significant things that the Agreement required them to do,” according to the court filing. The DeKovens then tried to sell the fruit to other buyers, without success. In the end, the Cabernet Sauvignon was left unpicked, according to the document.

The plaintiffs seek $52,500 plus interest, along with reimbursement for the cost of the lawsuit.

The Tubbs Fire started Oct. 8, 2017 near Calistoga and spread to Santa Rosa that night, where it leveled entire neighborhoods. While no houses burned within the city limits of Calistoga, the entire town was evacuated later that week. The multiple fires that exploded in October in the Wine Country eventually killed 44 people, according to news reports.

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