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Vincor USA faces Coppola collection action

Cork and bottle manufacturer Vinocor USA is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit from Francis Ford Coppola's food and wine company in a Californian courthouse for allegedly failing to provide bottles, screw-caps and packaging of a high enough quality for a new range of Coppola wine.

Court papers seen by theDrinksReport claim that in early 2008 Napa-based Vinocor USA agreed to provide “defect-free” bottles, screw-caps and packaging for the winemaker’s Encyclopedia collection. The collection was meant to feature uniquely shaped bottles and caps to serve as a guide to various international growing regions and varietals. Vinocor USA’s “abysmal failure to do so” necessitated the filing of this action, the writ states.

Vinocor USA was contracted to supply the unique 580gm flint bottles required for the collection at a price of US$8.76 per case and the screw-caps at a price of US$43.25 per 1,000 units. In the 12 months of 2008, Coppola paid US$685,000 for the bottles, screw-caps and packaging.

However, the winemaker states that problems with the bottles and screw-cps were identified immediately bottling of the wines commenced in May, 2008.
The writ states: “Problems developed almost immediately, as many of the bottles had numerous defects, including bent necks, chipped glass, deformed seal surfaces and out-of-specification thread start dimensions. The screw-caps had uneven threads, the wadding inside was missing or not properly glued and many of the screw-caps were bent as a result of careless shipping.”

In June, 2008 Coppola states it informed Vinocor USA that significant product was being lost because of the defective Cabernet screw-caps and/or bottles. They also added that the packaging was also defective, resulting in produce losses and delays.

Coppola then ordered a further 100,000 aluminium screw-caps with different dimensions at a price of $62.31 per thousand.
Ultimately, Coppola bottled around 55,000 cases of the wine using Vinocor products.

After bottling, additional problems arose with the Encyclopedia collection bottles and screw-caps, resulting in leaking bottles and degradation of the wine following the entry of air. This lead to the eventual ruin of almost the entire collection, states the writ.

• In a US legal publication, the case is being reported with a significant mis-print: the journalist states that Coppola paid Vinocor USA $685 million for 666,000 bottles or US$1,029 per bottle, not the 73 cents they actually paid. The sun represents about 5% of the entire US wine industry in 2006.

Report James Graham

December 09


1 December 2009 - Felicity Murray