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May 30, 2022 View:

Napa Valley winemaker sued by local grape farmers for refusing to accept Cabernet Sauvignon grapes

Christopher Tynan, a well-known winemaker in Napa Valley, California, whose work has been awarded a perfect 100 points by Parker, has been sued by Portuguese farmers for refusing to accept previously ordered Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

Photo courtesy of: Le Wine Guest

Christopher reportedly signed a grape purchase contract with Ronald and Linda DeKoven of Calistoga and was supposed to buy last year"s grapes, but refused to take delivery after the California fires in October, believing the berries were contaminated with soot. That fire last October forced Calistoga residents to evacuate, and thick smoke blanketed the valley for days.

The DeKoven's tried to resell the grapes, but no one took them over, leaving the lot (worth $7,500 per ton, or $47,000 under contract) to rot in the ground. The two then filed a lawsuit over Christopher's broken contract.

At the same time, Christopher received a bill for $52,500 ($330,000 contract) from DeKoven Vineyards for approximately 7 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon plus interest, which was scheduled to be acquired last November.

According to the agreement, the grapes from the vineyard were harvested for Cliff Lede Vineyards, where Christopher is the winemaker. The controversial grapes were originally intended for Christopher's own brand, Christopher Tynan Wines, which was founded in 2012 shortly after Christopher became the winemaker at Cliff Lede Vineyards.

Prior to that, Christopher was assistant winemaker at Colgin Cellars, where he worked on several Parker 100-point wines over a five-year period.

Christopher's 2013 vintage of his own label Cabernet Sauvignon (from the old vines of the Meleagris Gallopavo vineyard in St. Helena) received 100 points from Parker. Previously, the first vintage, originally scheduled for 2012, was abandoned for the entire vintage only because half the vineyard suffered from mold, rot and other diseases.

The DeKoven vineyard is located in the area most affected by the fire, and the berries from the adjacent vineyards were contaminated by smoke, as were about 30-40 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon from the nearby Chateau Montelena.