Controversy settles on Carmel-by-the-Sea and its tasting room strategy.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Dan Tudor of Tudor Wines (224-2116) is the rare winemaker who tethers his hands to a kite and his feet to a surfboard and sees where it sends him. His latest leap involves more legalese and lawyers than saltwater and surges, but it’s still taking him places – like right into the face of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce, and to the brink of a mini Civil-War-by-the-Sea.
Tudor, who samples people on his Pinot-leaning lineup of wines at a tasting bar he set up in Andre’s Bouchee (626-7880), was invited to join a “wine-walk” map last fall for $200 a month toward marketing and other expenses. Solid idea, what with the wineries adding spots seemingly every week. A couple of venues joined, and the list has swelled to seven. Wine lovers pay $50 for tastings at Galante, Caraccioli Cellars, Figge Cellars, Vino Napoli, Scheid, Manzoni and Wrath until they’ve tried all of them (there’s no time limit). It seems to be clicking so far. “It’s a great program, something to promote Carmel and tasting rooms in a different way,” group chair Scott Caraccioli says. Tudor passed, and now he’s pissed, partly because he was told he could join later and partly because the group has since asked for a greater investment – $2,000, says Tudor, though Caraccioli says it depends – now that they’ve (literally) poured a lot into getting the brand going.
Tudor took issue with new rules, printed up 700 of his own “Best of Wine Walk Carmel by the Sea” maps with stops including Franscioni and Oh and launched a Facebook page or three.
“We’re not gonna sit there and take it,” he says.
Chamber chief Monta Potter told him that was trademark infringement because the chamber used “Wine Walk” first. But Tudor says he checked with the U.S. patent-trademark office and says he could claim what patent lawyers call “first use” because he had post cards printed with “wine walk” on them before the chamber started up their deal.
“He’s trying to take money away from those who have joined by trying to take away the name,” Potter says. Tudor retorts: “I don’t care what she thinks.”
D. Mitchell Taylor does. He’s an attorney with offices in Fresno and Carmel who does a lot of work with used car dealers. He sent a letter Oct. 3 on the chamber’s behalf demanding Tudor cease and desist from using “Carmel Wine Walk” within seven days.
“I want to be nice about it,” Tudor says. “We have first use, but we can let them keep using ‘Carmel Wine Walk.’”
This better clicks with an axiom in the wine world. When one winery in an appellation does well, it helps everyone, so rather than compete with one another as businesses might naturally, wise groups like the Santa Lucia Highlands growers root for one another.
As our tasting room revolution continues, that would be something to toast.
•The bag of trash was small and lonely, but that only made it more beautiful. It represented the total trash from last week’s typically big and tasty Independent Marketplace in Sand City (750-9579). That would be one way to understand what the folks at nonprofit Offset Project – including sustainability director (and friend) Abbie Beane, founder (and friend) Kristin Cushman and legion volunteers – do at events from the Monterey Jazz Festival to Peter B’s recent (and rich) Craft Beer Garden: traffic in zero waste and max carbon offsets. One way to support what they do: Celebrate their fifth anniversary 6-10pm Friday, Oct. 12, with a “fun” raiser ($75) flowing with sangria, flamenco and tapas in Monterey’s appropriately Spanish-style-adobe Memory Garden. More on the blog (www.mcweekly.com/edible).
•Monterey Bay Bacon, Blues & Brews Festival (www.baconbluesfest.com) at the Fairgrounds is looking for chefs to lay down their most compelling porky creation as part of a Oct. 27 explosion of music – Les Dudek, Contino Band, Volker Strifer, Harpin Johnny, Rollin and Tumblin and my man DJ Hanif Wondir – and we’re looking for beautiful bacon proverbs to win a pair of $50 tickets on the MCW Facebook page.
•Daylight savings (which ends Nov. 4) can be depressing at ideal Indian summer spots like the patio at Bernardus’ Wickets Bistro (658-3400). Fortunately there are epic antidotes to the sadness, like the duck confit-arugula pizza ($24), “white silk” cocktail ($12) with cucumber vodka, lime juice and Prosecco and the giant stone fireplace that works just fine in the dark and the winter.
•Other pizzas to prioritize: Those at Corkscrew Bistro (659-8888). Six pizzas, like the roasted wild forest mushroom-thyme-shallot number and the new fig-blue cheese-prosciutto are half-off ($7) 5-6pm.
•As Berlin sings “Take My Breath Away” to Salinas this Friday, the 2012 Salinas Valley Food and Wine Fest kicks off (see story, p. 39). The “purple crush” wine dinner is a day later, the “enchanted vines” version ($150) is Oct. 19 in Pebble and the main tasting ($40) goes down Oct. 20 in Oldtown. To volunteer hit the meeting 7pm Thurs Oct. 11, 6pm Wed Oct. 17, or contact 247-7157.
• Pretty cool to see the fifth annual Salvation Army benefit in honor of Sabu Shake take the event past $1 million.
• Some big-and-fun events coming around the corner – including Big Sur Food & Wine Nov. 1-4 and Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association’s “Party in the Hangar” with food trucks and wineries at the airport Nov. 10. Visit the blog for more dates to anticipate.
•Local Catch Monterey Bay (345-5153) keeps connecting local fishermen with mindful eaters CSA-style every Tuesday, distributing local spiny lobster this week. The seafood rotates through everything from crab to sturgeon to sardines according to season, with shares available at pick-up spots around the bay ($20-$40/week).
•The simple but powerful Thomas Carman Food Pantry “Empty Bowls” Project happens 5-7pm Saturday, Oct. 13 at Epiphany Lutheran & Episcopal Church in Marina. Soup in a bowl you keep for a donation of $10 (and a reminder of how many people go to sleep hungry) goes a long way.
• “The war against hunger,” JFK said, “is mankind’s war of liberation.”