Caymus Vineyards announced today the dismissal of its May 28, 2020 lawsuit against Governor Gavin Newsom and California State Public Health Officer Sonia Angell. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the lawsuit alleged unfair and disparate treatment in the state’s reopening plan for non-essential businesses. With Governor Newsom deciding to open tasting areas for all wineries, regardless of whether or not they serve food, Caymus has decided to dismiss its complaint.
When Caymus filed its complaint, California’s reopening plan permitted a wide array of businesses to reopen, including retailers, restaurants, personal services, places of worship, and childcare. However, these same orders only permitted wineries that provide sit-down meal service to reopen tasting areas. The complaint alleged this disparate treatment made no sense and specifically harmed Napa County wineries, as county regulations prohibit wineries from offering full-meal service. The complaint alleged the Governor’s plan violated the the Equal Protection, Due Process, and Takings Clauses of both the U.S. and California Constitutions.
However, on Friday, June 5, Governor Newsom revised his reopening orders and permitted winery tasting rooms that do not provide meal service, such as Caymus Vineyards and nearly all other Napa County wineries, to open to the public. The revised orders provide guidance on how wineries must operate but leave the discretion to local authorities on how and when wineries can reopen. Napa County immediately issued its own guidelines on how its restaurants, bars, and wineries could provide a safe and clean environment for their workers and customers.
“We filed this suit not just for ourselves but also in defense of the many great small wineries in our area and across the state that are struggling, and we are very pleased with this development, ensuring fair and equal opportunity for our local industry,” said Chuck Wagner, founder and President of Caymus Vineyards. “We take our responsibility for the health and safety of our customers and employees very seriously and will follow or exceed all county and state guidelines. Most important to us is seeing all the happy faces of our staff and patrons, even through face coverings.”
Caymus opened up its outdoor tasting areas on Saturday, June 6, the day after the new guidelines were announced, and Caymus is waiving all tasting fees for guests through the month of June. New protocols on distancing, face coverings, and cleaning and disinfecting in line with county and state guidelines have been implemented. Touchless solutions have been introduced.
“We said when we first filed this case was that all we wanted was to be treated fairly,” said Michael Carlson, Vice President and General Counsel for Caymus Vineyards. “Now that the reopening plan has been changed to treat Napa County wineries just like all the others in the state, we are happy to dismiss the case and be back open.”