Northside SF
Oenophilic Tendencies
The battle of the mommies: Is wine worth suing over?

Cheryl Murphy Durzy, a young mother of two, is the founder of MommyJuice Wines, which came on the market last August. As the sales and marketing manager for Clos LaChance Winery in the Central Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA) of California and daughter of Clos LaChance co-founders Brenda and Bill Murphy, Durzy is understandably surrounded by wine. The name, “MommyJuice,” was apparently inspired by her children who referred to her glasses of wine as “Mommy’s juice.”

MommyJuice Wines offers two selections, MommyJuice White and MommyJuice Red, both nonvintage. MommyJuice Red is a Bordeaux-style blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, and MommyJuice White is 100 percent Chardonnay from Monterey County. Both are relatively low alcohol for California wine, a respectable 13.5 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), and they retail for $10 each. I was not able to find these wines at any of the wine stores I generally frequent, but I was able to order them on line at With shipping and handling, the total came to about $36 for the two bottles.

For comparison, I also purchased a 2007 Clos La Chance Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay and a 2006 Clos LaChance Central Coast Estate Cabernet Sauvignon at a local wine store, for $15 and $13, respectively. Surprisingly, I preferred the nonvintage MommyJuice wines to their “adult” counterparts from Clos La Chance. Although MommyJuice White had a bit too much tropical fruit flavor for my taste, similar to an overripe California Sauvignon Blanc, it had great acidity, mineral tones, and was generally pleasant to drink. The MommyJuice Red also had a nice backbone of acidity to balance the cherry and black fruit flavors. In contrast, both the Clos LaChance Chardonnay and Cabernet had a little too much vanilla and oak for my liking.

What led me to conduct this wine experiment was a complaint filed two months ago in federal court by Clos LaChance, seeking a declaratory judgment that the use of MommyJuice White and MommyJuice Red trademarks do not create a likelihood of confusion as to source, sponsorship, or affiliation with Mommy’s Time Out, a wine brand owned by Selective Wine Estates, Inc., a company located in East Hanover, N.J.

Selective Wine Estates distributes one white wine and one red wine under the label Mommy’s Time Out. Mommy’s Time Out White is a novel blend of Pinot Grigio and Garganega (the varietal used in Soave), and Mommy’s Time Out Red is made of Primitivo, an Italian varietal genetically equivalent to Zinfandel, at 11.5 percent and 13.5 percent ABV, respectively. The website,, does not provide any prices or the ability to order the wines, and my phone call to the listed contact telephone number requesting information on where the wines may be purchased was not returned. I was, however, able to purchase them online from a wine store in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. for $6.99 each. The vintages for both the white and the red were 2009. With shipping and handling, the total came to about $33 for the two bottles.

Mommy’s Time Out White smelled and tasted like water poured into an empty can of pineapple juice. Mommy’s Time Out Red, though, tasted like a pleasant, zippy Zinfandel. The value here is clearly the red.

At the end of my experiment, I was stuck with six nearly full bottles of wine and the realization of the impact of wine labels. Even though the MommyJuice wines were the leader in my taste test, the label would actually cause me to dismiss the wine entirely. I might buy the wine as a gag gift for a baby shower, but I would be embarrassed to actually serve it, even though the wines are in fact well priced, approachable and quaffable.

In contrast, it appears that this kind of label is so appealing and popular to other people that two wine companies have become embroiled in a legal dispute. For under $15 a bottle, I can get a Bordeaux Supérieur from the touted 2005 vintage and a St.-Véran from the excellent 2009 vintage in Burgundy.

The filing fee for a complaint in the Northern District of California is $350.

Jeannine Sano has passed the Introductory Sommelier Course examination offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers. When she’s not tasting and writing about wine, she works as an attorney. E-mail:

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