Owned by John and Diane Livingston, the winery has used the Livingston name on its vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignons since it was founded, in 1984. However, Gallo had used the name first, on a cream Sherry it produced in Livingston, Calif., and in 1987, the California wine giant challenged the couple's usage. "At that time, we came to an agreement to just use the [Livingston Vineyards] name on Cabernet," said Diane Livingston.
But by last year, matters had changed. The Livingstons decided to release a Chardonnay in 1998 and planned to sell other wines, including a Syrah and a red table wine called Gemstone. And Gallo had chosen to expand tis use of the Livingston name with nonpremium varietal wines.
The two companies reached a settlement in which Livingston Vineyards had to change the name on all new varietals introduced in the past two years. But the Livingstons decided to also adopt the new brand for its Cabernets to maintain consistency.
"Although it's hard to change your name, this arrangement will preserve our history and good will while reflecting the future course of our family-run winery," said John Livingston. "It makes sense because our two sons' last name is Moffett," added Diane, explaining that both Trent and Mark Moffett work for the winery and will take on more responsibility in the future. Also, the winery's most highly rated Cabernet comes from its Moffett Vineyard in Rutherford.
The first wine released under the Livingston-Moffett name is also the winery's first vintage of Syrah, overseen by consulting winemaker John Kongsgaard. The Livingston-Moffett Syrah Mitchell Vineyard 1997, which sells for $35, is a blend of 95 percent Syrah and 5 percent Viognier from the Mitchell Vineyard in the west side of Napa Valley.