Italian wine producer Franz Hass has taken legal action against US distributor Winebow, alleging lost sales and a failure to uphold a terminated contract.

In a Californian court filing, Franz Hass claimed that its contract with Winebow was terminated on 24 October, 2021. The producer said Winebow “refused” to accept the termination of the contract and instead claimed it had automatically renewed to 2026, giving it exclusivity to the brands in the US.

The producer claims that as a result of Winebow’s conduct it had no sales in the US between 25 October 2021 and 20 January 2022. This equated to lost wine sales of $2,000,000, or roughly in 37,000 cases in volume.

The plaintiff further argues even after it restarted US sales with different suppliers, Winebow had “crippled” it. Franz Hass said despite the dissolution of its contract in 2021 it “persisted in its intentional, tortious interference with [its] business in California and the rest of the US.”

Franz Hass added Winebow “further impaired” sales of its Kris Wines brand by “threatening” USA Wine West, a distributor it was talking to, with legal action if it treated the contract as ended.

“Based on the effective sales in the period of 2015 to 2021 Franz Haas has exported an average 290,000 cases per year. Due to defendant’s actions and obstruction in these states, plaintiff lost in subsequent years 2022 and 2023, sales in the amount of 283,000 cases, an estimated $15.6m in additional sales,” the company’s legal complaint argued.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Winebow claimed the supply agreement could only be terminated for good cause, that it is still in force and that the company holds the exclusive rights to import its Kris Wines brand in the US.

Franz Hass is seeking damages for its lost wine sales.

The vintner is now working with RTM Imports for the distribution of its portfolio in the US. It said it had to post a $100,000 escrow for its distributor, as Winebow had made legal threats to RTM.

Just Drinks contacted Winebow for comment.