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Oregon Lawmakers Urge Feds to Investigate California Winery

Copper Cane LLC is now at the center of two controversies involving Oregon — first the allegations of misleading labels, then the rejection of 2,000 tons of Southern Oregon grapes.

Posted: Oct. 9, 2018 6:12 PM

SALEM, Ore. — A coalition of Oregon lawmakers are firing a broadside at California wine company Copper Cane LLC, which the lawmakers have accused of misrepresenting California-based wines as uniquely Oregonian.

Now those lawmakers are hoping to get regulators from the federal government involved.

“It has come to the attention of the Oregon Congressional delegation that Copper Cane LLC (‘Copper Cane’), a California winery based in Rutherford advertises their 'The Willametter Journal' and ‘Elouan’ brand names as having appellations of origin in Oregon,” the delegation wrote to John Manfreda, administrator of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

“However, it appears that Copper Cane purchases wine grapes and bulk wines produced in Oregon before vinifying and bottling them in California under these wine labels.”

If the name Copper Cane sounds familiar, it may because they recently rejected roughly 2,000 tons of wine grapes from Southern Oregon vineyards — claiming that the grapes were tainted by wildfire smoke.

That mass rejection came shortly after Oregon lawmakers first began making noise about Copper Cane's alleged mislabeling of their wines.

“The state of Oregon is known as a world-class wine region producing extraordinary wines from over 760 wineries and more than 1,140 vineyards growing 72 grape varieties,” the delegation said in their letter to Manfreda. “Oregon winemakers pride themselves on high quality grapes and wines and have earned a global reputation for exceptional quality.”

The Oregon lawmakers went on to ask the bureau to conduct a "field audit" of Copper Cane's wines in order to "ensure product integrity" — launching an investigation into the company's labeling practices to make sure that they are in compliance with federal regulations.

If the company were to be found out of compliance, the Oregon lawmakers asked that any offending products should be removed from the market immediately.

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