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April 20, 2009 12:38 PM

E. & J. Gallo crows "We'll sue!" -- The Spanish Table

Posted by Nancy Leson

And now, from the you've-got-to-be-kidding department, this just in from Steve Winston, owner of The Spanish Table: He's being sued in California Eastern District Court by E. & J. Gallo Winery -- for selling pasta imported from a 50-year-old Spanish company named Gallo (no relation):



Steve says: the rain in Spain falls mainly in Seattle

Gallo (pronounced "guy-oh" in Spanish) translates as rooster, Steve explains, noting that he's feeling pretty cocky over the whole affair. "I feel like a bigwig!" he told me -- seeing as he's just one guy with four stores specializing in Spanish products (including food, wine and the fabulous paella pan I bought Mac for our last anniversary). And they're, well, the "GAL-ohs" -- the largest family-owned winery in the world, according to their company Web site, which boasts 60 Gallo brands, 5000 employees and three proud generations working in the family biz:



Photo filched from the Gallo Web site, so sue me!

There's a certain gallows humor at play when you consider a hard-working guy like Steve being sued by a family that claims to be "carrying on the family tradition and values -- a strong work ethic, a drive for perfection and a focus on quality." I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV, but I can't help but wonder why the Gallo company's attorney would send cease-and-desist letters to a Seattle businessman, busting his chops for selling a type of pasta that shares the same name as his client's winery. "He told me to write him a letter saying I'll never sell this pasta again," says Steve. And when the shopkeeper didn't ("I was too busy filing my taxes last week") the attorney "went ahead and filed."

I can imagine Steve shaking his head this morning at his Western Avenue store as he told me he's not wealthy enough to engage in a cockfight with one of the biggest names in the wine business. "We'll probably have a last call for the pasta," Steve says, selling out what's on the shelves. "Gallo's got a bottomless pocket. I don't have a bottomless pocket." But he does, however, sell a $13.99 Martin Codax albarino -- a Spanish wine imported and marketed by E.& J. Gallo. My suggestion: send it back to the distributor, and tell them you're not interested in selling any more Gallo products.

So Eaters, what do you think about this? Crazy, no?

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Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.

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