The E&J Gallo Thunderbird strikes

Word is that Paso Robles’ Twilight Cellars, known until October 15, 2010 as Thunderbolt Winery recently received the dreaded registered letter with the return address of Modesto. Apparently, E. & J. Gallo, which has not put their name on the Thunderbird label for many years, is still making enough money selling this street wine (which is banned in our neighborhood by the Washington State Liquor Control Board), that their feathers were ruffled enough to let their lawyers out of the hen house and force a name change at the tiny (2,500 cases annually) family winery.

According to Wine Industry Insight, Twilight only would say that it was ” forced by a globally influential third party to change its name because the name Thunderbolt conflicted with one of their old brands.”

As Spanish Table customer’s know, last year in a bolt out of the blue, the famiglia Gallo sued The Spanish Table in Fresno Federal Court for selling Pastas Gallo fideua noodles, a Spanish brand pre-dating the arrival of the winey Gallos in the USA. As part of their “offer you can not refuse,” the Gallo lawyers extract a vow of silence in the settlement so we can understand why the Twilight (née Thunderbolt) spokesperson was forced to speak in euphemisms. When we refused to include the vow of silence in our the pasta settlement, E&J Gallo’s lawyers offered to pay our legal costs but we held the First Amendment too dear and settled the case cowed but unmuzzled.

Ironically Thunderbird is a brand name some industry observers feel E&J Gallo may have borrowed from the Ford Motor Company and/or the Nevada casino.

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