Oregon Officials Fine California Winery $50,000 for Falsely Labeling Its Pinot Noir

Copper Cane’s labels said its grapes came from the Oregon Coast. The agency didn’t believe that.

At its Sept. 23 meeting, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission voted to fine a California winery called Copper Cane $50,000 for misrepresenting the source of grapes it labeled Oregon pinot noir.

Copper Cane “stated that the grapes were from the Oregon Coast or the coastal area,” the OLCC said in a statement. “Consumers, growers and Oregon winemakers noticed the geographic inaccuracy, since Oregon’s grape-growing regions do not touch the Pacific coast and are separated by the Oregon Pacific Coast mountain range.”

An OLCC investigation found fault with Copper Cane’s labels and its marketing materials. The underlying issue is that Oregon pinot noir commands a premium price, so it could be profitable to pass off lesser varieties as the real thing.

“Alcohol regulators and the wine industry in the U.S. and across the world must continue to ensure that unique locations, where grapes are grown and wine is produced, are protected in the market so consumers can be confident they are purchasing a bottle of wine from where it actually came from,” OLCC executive director Steve Marks said. “In this case, we used the agency’s limited regulatory tools to protect Oregon’s brand, in the same way we would respect the brands from other wine-growing regions.”

Copper Cane agreed to settle the allegations and pay the OLCC fine. The company did not admit to doing anything wrong but told the OLCC it will follow labeling rules in the future.