The dispute arose over two Fess Parker wines: Foxen Cuvee, a Chardonnay-Viognier blend, and Fleur de Foxen, made from Pinot Noir. The owners of Foxen, whose wines include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Viognier, became concerned that consumers would be confused about the origin of the Fess Parker wines. The two parties tried to negotiate a solution between themselves, but talks broke down in May.
"Right now there is a lot of legal maneuvering," said Jenny Williamson, wife of Richard Doré, who co-owns Foxen with Bill Wathen. "We're still trying to work out a settlement, but it doesn't look good."
Fess Parker lies on Foxen Canyon Road, and winemaker Eli Parker asserts that the winery has the right to use the Foxen name on their labels because it's a geographic designation. However, "Foxen" is a federally registered trademark of Foxen Vineyard, also on Foxen Canyon Road.
"We have no problem with anyone using Foxen Canyon as a geographical designation, but [Parker] wants Foxen Canyon in a proprietary manner," said Williamson. "They're not even in Foxen Canyon. They're in Zaca Creek Canyon, but the winery's on Foxen Canyon Road."
"It's ridiculous for them to take the position that we're not in Foxen Canyon," argued Eli Parker. "While we may not be in the Foxen Canyon watershed, the common usage of Foxen Canyon implies that we're there."
However, Foxen appears to have made headway in the debate. Parker confirmed that he is soaking the labels off all of the remaining Foxen Cuvee inventory and plans to re-label it as "Select Cuvee." Fleur de Foxen has been discontinued. "We're not capitulating," he insisted. "When we've made our case, we'll resume with Foxen Canyon Cuvee. Really what's at issue is whether or not we're allowed to use the Foxen Canyon designation."
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