Retailer of Gallo pasta hit by lawsuit

04/24/2009 7:30 PM

04/25/2009 12:13 AM

Usually, wine and pasta go well together. Usually.

E.&J. Gallo Winery of Modesto has sued a Seattle retailer for selling pasta made by a Spanish company under the "Gallo" brand.

The store, the Spanish Table, is in the popular Pike Place Market on Seattle's downtown waterfront.

The store first got a letter from the winery, then the lawsuit in federal court, according to The Seattle Times. The owner told the paper that he probably will stop selling the pasta rather than battle in court.

Winery spokesman Susan Hensley said E.&J. Gallo is merely protecting a valuable brand.

"Like many companies, we have understandings with companies around the world to not sell or market products in the United States under the 'Gallo' brand," she said in a written statement. "We have such an understanding with the Gallo pasta producer. Given this understanding, whenever we discover the product is being sold in the United States contrary to this understanding, we must take steps to correct the problem."

Hensley added that the matter likely "will be quickly resolved."

This isn't the first time that the winery has sued to protect its name. Founders Ernest and Julio Gallo sought in 1986 to keep their brother Joseph from marketing cheese from Atwater under the "Joseph Gallo" name. They prevailed, and the cheese today is known as "Joseph Farms."

In 1991, the winery won a ruling that limited the meat products that could bear the name of Gallo Salame Inc., an East Bay company.

    

Gallo faces a $73,000 fine for illegal diversion of Russian River water near Healdsburg, according to a state water board complaint.

The winery can pay the fine proposed by the State Water Resources Control Board or dispute it, the Santa Rose Press-Democrat reported. If Gallo loses its appeal, it could be forced to pay penalties of more than $500,000.

The water board's complaint, posted online Wednesday, claims that Gallo lacked the authority to pump river water into an eight-acre vineyard reservoir. Gallo is accused of using the water for at least three years.

The complaint against Gallo stemmed from an investigation launched in 2005 into improper Russian River water diversions.

Gallo did not have a response to the complaint.

To submit items to From the Vine, call 578-2385, send a fax to 578-2207, or send an e-mail to jholland@modbee.com.

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