Napa Valley has long been one of the premier viticultural regions in California—if not the United States. The Napa Valley Register reported that one grape grower near the Napa town of Calistoga is filed a lawsuit against a winery last month for an alleged breach of contract.
Frederic Constant, owner of Diamond Mountain Vineyard claims that Jeff Hill of Hill Winery Company LLC had agreed to purchase grapes for three years, but refused to accept and pay for grapes valued at up to $194,000. Constant’s attorney told the Register that the grapes were picked, crushed and the juice remains at Diamond Mountain Vineyard, but the complaint alleges Hill breached the contract when he did not accept the grapes in 2012. Hill Wine Company allegedly claimed the crop did not meet the quality set in the contract and rejected it without paying the grape grower, but did not monitor the condition of the grapes during the growing season. The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory fraud and concealment.
According to the complaint, the agreement for the 2012 Constant Vineyards harvest involved between 10 and 15 tons of cabernet sauvignon, three to five tons of merlot and one to two tons of cabernet franc. Under the agreement, Hill would pay half of the total costs when the grapes were picked and the other half 30 days after the harvest, and the contract stated that any past due amount would accrue 15 percent interest.
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Quick Klein Extra: Parties sued for breach of contract can claim multiple defenses, even if they contradict one another. For example, defendants can claim their failure to perform was justified by another party’s actions while also claiming they performed what was required in a contract.