The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) approved a winery’s label for its ELOUAN pinot noir. A class action under California’s Unfair Competition Law was brought alleging that the label’s references to Oregon’s Coasts were misleading, as while the grapes came from Oregon, the wine was created in Napa, California. Defendant moves to dismiss, asserting, in part, that the TTB’s approval created a safe harbor against the UCL.

Held: While an agency’s approval of a product’s labeling could create a safe harbor against state statute, for purposes of 12(b)(6), it could not be determined whether the TTB had scrupulously reviewed the claims made in these labels, and therefore defendant could not claim a safe harbor at this point in the proceedings.

Also – Class Action plaintiff who purchased the wine in Louisiana did not have standing to pursue the claim under California’s UCL.

Photo above of label by Michael Alberty from this 2018 article.

Text of decision:

nd cal copper cane oregon coast MtD