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From: lewis.perdue@wineindustryinsight.com

Subject: Trustee To Probe Renwood Ch11, Lender Charges Misdeeds - WINE INDUSTRY INSIGHT

Date: 2010-08-02 17:14:43

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EMAIL EDITION - VOLUME II, NUMBER 26 - August 2, 2010

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IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Renwood Group, Lender Spar Over Canceled Trademarks, License Deals

  • Bankruptcy Trustee To Examine Renwood Group Finances, Management



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Renwood Group, Lender Spar Over Canceled Trademarks, License Deals

While TLA and Renwood Group (the parent company of Renwood Winery and Renwood Vineyard Properties) have crossed swords for months over the production of documents by both sides, court documents indicate that TLA’s request for a court-appointed trustee grew most urgent when it says it suspected that all three Renwood companies “were engaging in a scheme to move the Winery’s assets out of reach of creditors in a ‘bust out’ type of scheme.”

Renwood Group has vigorously disputed that claim in its court filings.

“Renwood Winery’s use of the trademark is not in jeopardy, said winery President Smerling who categorized the lender’s legal actions as, “an attempt by TLA to delay the reorganization plan of Renwood Group.”

RENWOOD CANCELED ITS OWN TRADEMARKS IN APRIL

TLA’s court documents say that it “learned through counsel that Renwood Winery had petitioned to cancel its valuable Trademarks in the ‘Renwood ‘ name and its bird logo on April 26, 2010, just 5 days after Newport Seashore Trust, Group’s largest shareholder, had applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to establish its ownership of those same marks.”

Renwood Group (Group) owns 96 percent of Amador County-based Renwood Winery (Winery) and 100 percent of Renwood Vineyard Properties, Ltd. (Vineyard) which has also filed for Chapter 11.

Winery has not declared bankruptcy. Indeed, Smerling said the winery “just finished fiscal 2010 and case sales were up 41 percent.”

VIP Subscribers click here to read the complete, 1,000-word article.

Also In This Article For VIP Subscribers:

  • RENWOOD SAYS IT CANCELED ITS TRADEMARKS TO CORRECT PRIOR LICENSING MISTAKES

  • SMERLING ACQUIRED CONTROL OF FIRM OWNING RENWOOD TRADEMARKS IN 2002

  • TLA DISPUTES “MISTAKE” EXPLANATION

  • TLA ALLEGES SMERLING ENGAGED IN “SELF DEALING”

  • RENWOOD WINERY CALLS TLA CHARGES “ILL-INFORMED, UNCORROBORATED”

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Bankruptcy Trustee To Examine Renwood Group Finances

Sacramento CPA David D. Flemmer has been approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California as U.S. Trustee to oversee Renwood Group’s bankruptcy reorganization. In addition, Judge Robert S. Bardwil has also approved Flemmer’s request for a Rule 2005 examination.

Renwood Group (Group) owns 96 percent of Amador County-based Renwood Winery (Winery) and 100 percent of Renwood Vineyard Properties, Ltd. (Vineyard) which has also filed for Chapter 11.

Winery has not declared bankruptcy.

TRUSTEE REQUESTED BY LENDER

Judge Bardwil approved the Trustee appointment July 28 at the request of TLA Holdings (a subsidiary of MetLife) which holds the trust deeds of the vineyards and other real estate owned by Vineyard and against the objections of Group.

Bardwil did, however, give Group a partial victory by denying TLA’s request for joint administration of the Group and Vineyard bankruptcies. Closely related bankruptcies are often — but not always — combined into a single case for administrative efficiency and related reasons.

For an example of a consolidated wine industry Chapter 11, please see WII’s coverage of the now-concluded Charles B. Mitchell Winery Chapter 11.

Bardwill has ordered the appointment of a trustee in the Vineyard bankruptcy, but one has not yet been selected.

Renwood Group Chairman and CEO Robert I. Smerling told Wine Industry Insight that he “is pleased by the appointment of David Flemmer as Group Trustee and plans to cooperate with him fully to clear up any misunderstanding concerning the trademarks.”

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TRUSTEE TO EXAMINE 8 KEY FINANCIAL, MANAGEMENT AREAS

On July 30, Judge Bardwill approved Flemmer’s request for a Rule 2004 examination that will focus on eight key financial and management areas.

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Lewis Perdue
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Phone: 707-326-4503, fax: 707-940-4146
Email: lewis.perdue@wineindustryinsight.com