What’s In a Name?
In 1998 we thought we had an apt name: Rattlesnake Creek Vineyard. We sold our wines under that name until late 2005, when an e-mail arrived from Paul Portteus, who owns Portteus Winery in Washington State’s Rattlesnake Hills. Mr. Portteus told us he had been selling a red blend called Rattlesnake Ridge since 1989, and asked us to cease and desist. We consulted a patent attorney, who advised us that a court battle would cost a bundle, so just pick a new name. When Connie told her Atlanta sister Ann Martin, Ann said, “Hold a contest.” The Dec. 28, 2005 issue of Wine Spectator tells the story:
We like a happy ending
Montana winery owners Andy Sponseller and Connie Poten believe that when life gives you lemons, turn them into publicity. The owners of Rattlesnake Creek Vineyard, outside Missoula, recently received an e-mail asking them to change their winery’s name . . . Sponseller held a name-that-winery contest . . . . more than 1,000 entries arrived by e-mail and phone, including Snattle-Rake Creek Wineyards, Sponseller’s Cellars, Baroque’n Chain, Cease and Desist Winery, Gossamer Rhino, and Snakebit Lawyer. One contestant suggested Gallo Wines, adding, “Why not piss off a really big winery?” Poten, Sponseller and several friends whittled the list down to 10, checked to see if any of them were trademarked (several were) and chose Ten Spoon Vineyard (a sort of combination of their last names), which they felt was the catchiest.
Frederick Kreutzer, chief wine expert for Taster Wine, Denmark’s largest wholesaler and distributor, sent in the winning suggestion. Now the Montana duo just has to figure out how to send Kreutzer his prize—a case of Ten Spoon wines every year for life.
Anyone going to Copenhagen? We’ll throw in wine for you, and of course pay for the luggage if you’ll take a case to Frederick. Be a part of history, international relations, diplomacy! Let us know… thanks very much, and enjoy your Ten Spoon wine.