January 23, 2006

Court denies appeal in Napa wine labeling case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday
declined to hear a challenge by Bronco Wine Co., a maker of
popular and inexpensive wines, to a California law that
requires that any wine bottle with the word "Napa" on the label
must be made mostly from local grapes.

Without any comment, the justices refused to review a
California court ruling that upheld the state law. It marked
the second time in less than a year the justices have denied an
appeal by Bronco, which wants to sell its Napa-branded wines
that do not contain grapes grown in that region.

The law was adopted by California legislators in 2000 to
limit the use of the "Napa" label to wines made from at least
75 percent Napa-grown grapes. Napa Valley is the premier U.S.
wine producing region.

Bronco argued federal regulations preempted the state law
and the statute violated constitutional free-speech rights
under the First Amendment. Supporting the appeal to the high
court were 62 wineries from around the country.

California and the Napa Valley Vinters Association, which
has 270 wine maker members, opposed the appeal. The group said
Bronco makes its wines from grapes from other areas and then
sells them under brand names, such as Napa Ridge and Napa
Creek, that leads consumers to believe the grapes came from
Napa County.