K is For K-rap Lawsuit? (The First Time I’ve Banned a Wine Product)

Vinted on October 5, 2010 binned in commentary

Hopefully it will be the last time, as well.

[ Also, please be forewarned that this post contains several references to the concept of poop. ]

By now, the more on-line socially active of you (sounds sexy!) will have not only heard about the kerfuckle over at Blake Gray’s excellent blog The Gray Market Report between some the blog’s Anonymous commenters and K Vintners winemaker Charles Smith.

Since the announcement of the lawsuit (which, in a nutshell, centers on a complaint of libel that the Anonymous commenters on the original GMR post), lots of blogs have reacted to various aspects of the suit.

I’m not going to talk about any of that.

I’m going to talk about my reaction to what I consider a totally frivolous lawsuit, the primary purpose of which, as far as a I can discern, is to stimulate economic recovery for the law industry while causing headaches for Blake Gray, Google, and anyone else involved.

My reaction: K Vintners will never again be mentioned in the virtual pages of 1WineDude.com, unless Charles Smith and K publicly take a different approach in all of this, and quickly. The primary reasons for such a drastic measure?

  1. I don’t want 1WineDude.com readers having to worry about being wrapped up in lawsuits.
  2. I won’t have 1WineDude.com readers treated like they have the brains of poop-flinging monkeys – which is essentially what Smith and K are doing by filing this type of lawsuit; they’re sort of telling you that you are unable to discern a smarmy, anonymous comment from the reasonable musings and opinions of an intelligent blog reader.

I sincerely hope this is the only time I will ever have to do something like this; but for now, Smith can stick with the many accolades for his wines from the traditional press, where he can feel safe and secure that people can’t respond anywhere near as quickly; and, presumably, let his ego grow to monstrous proportions in the meantime…

Now, before you flame me with nasty emails on how I am being far too drastic and dramatic, hear me out a bit.

I worked for lawyers for a long time – several years, in fact.  Besides imbuing me with the handy ability to read legal contracts without requiring an interpreter, this experience also afforded me a good number of friends who are lawyers.  And I’ve been unable to find any of them who think that Smith’s lawsuit is a good idea for anyone but Smith (and even then, they think the chances of Smith “winning” the lawsuit are small).

Here’s a low-cost ($0.00) alternative to Smith’s lawsuit:

  • Let anonymous commenters go on spewing whatever crap that they want on the GMR blog.
  • Respond with comments in the same blog setting the record straight – NOT responding to the asinine anonymous commenters directly, but appealing instead to the intelligent readers of the GMR blog.
  • Trust those readers to make their own (intelligent) interpretation of events and come to the right conclusion (in this case, that the Anonymous commenters on that GMR post were full of shit).

So, in this lawsuit it looks to me that we have a case of someone resorting to a very expensive and likely superfluous means of clearing up the facts. And it’s presumably built on the assumption that people who buy wines and are reading Blake’s blog are morons.

I buy wines, and I read Blake’s blog.

Personally, I am sick and fucking tired of “consumers” and “blog readers” being treated like they are some sort of strange and rare but extremely naïve and obtuse  species of animal, to be observed and talked about from afar but never directly consulted and never, ever – god forbid! – treated as though they have functioning, connected neurons firing in their brains.

I can picture the PBS special now… a British man, white head of hair, clean-shaven, in khaki pants and outback vest is holding a pair of binoculars, hiding behind large potted plants, and examining shoppers at a wine store from the safety of his haven. After several seconds, he lowers his binoculars and turns to the camera, addressing the audience:

“The wine consumer roams the aisles of the wine shop, hunting cautiously for its next vinous meal.  Notice how anxious, fearful, and stupid they appear as they examine the labels and point scores, almost clueless as to which item to purchase and what to make of the strange taste and aroma descriptors they encounter… one almost feels sorry for these helpless, hapless creatures and their…. wait a moment… a fight is breaking out… they’re beginning to fling poo at one another!  How exciting!”

Give me a fucking break, already!

You know what? I get a lot of wine sent to me for free, but it’s for the purpose of possible review. I still buy wine.  I still read wine blogs.  AND I HAVE A BRAIN CAPABLE OF DISCERNING WHEN AN ANONYMOUS COMMENTER IS A DOUCHE BAG OR NOT. And on my own blog, I’m totally capable of moderating bog comments, and/or commenting myself if I think the commenter is out of line.

I don’t need a lawsuit to tell me that, nor do I need the threat of a lawsuit keeping me – or my intelligent blog readers and commenter – from expressing themselves and their opinions.

And neither do you.






  • @WineWonkette

    Hear! Hear! Bravo! Excellent commentary! We're not of the mind to review any more of Mr. Lawsuit's wines again either. Shame. Some of them are damned good. But we draw the line at promoting asshat behavior.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – glad to have your support!

  • Wine Dog

    I'm in. Can we get some support for boycotting Bill Foley for lots of reasons?

    • 1WineDude

      :) Well, I'm not taking boycott requests at this time…

  • Josh

    A more dignified response certainly would have been to respond to the allegations in a succinct and well thought out comment but when have you known Charles Smith to be dignified, succinct or well thought out?

    Shit – I think I just opened myself up to being sued.

    Nectar Wine Blog

    • 1WineDude

      :) Careful, Josh!

      Actually, I'd have the same criticism of myself!

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks, Albert.

    Personally, my favorite part is when I used the words "poo-flinging" and "douchebag" :-).

  • Mel

    Bravo! An excellent response to a ridiculous situation. Something like this happened in my hometown blogosphere recently, and while it didn't end up in a lawsuit, there was a whole lot of crap flinging. Most were quick to jump on the side of the blogger, and attack (even threaten) the douchey commenter who left a nasty comment. But I thought everyone way overreacted. When you write a blog, inevitably at some point you'll get trolled. Best response is to just acknowledge their opinion and move on with your life – not get into a pissing match with them, trying to show who's really right or not. What a bunch of poop.

  • RandyHall

    Very nicely phrased, and I think an appropriate response to the so-called kerfuffle. I know Kaz has had similar complaints about how to respond to criticisms that he's received on sites like Yelp, where a single person can come along and bad-mouth his business in a manner that is sticky and difficult to refute in any way other than he-said-she-said tactics.

    The use of lawyers just shows that the subject winery has very opportunistic lawyer friends. A proper PR response would've been more along the lines of what you describe, Joe: counter with facts and opposing opinions, not with red-hot emotions and vitriol. Doing the former shows that you're a class act and will even get respect from people who don't like you; doing the latter leads to situations like this, where large communities of people who were mildly positive to neutral supporters turn into opponents who will now seek to ensure you get no coverage on their medium.

    Advantage goes to the wine blogger community for your leadership on this, Joe.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Randy – kind words… do I have to pay you for that? :-)

  • Galen Struwe

    I first read about this over at Another Wine Blog and it's some very seriously funny shit. I've always kind of liked Smith's "I used to be a roadie for Kansas and Styx" rock star schtick as it has, for me, always seemed to me like a bad act within walking distance of Spinal Tap. He might be an asshole but he's an amusing one. Nice post.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Galen – I'm not going to to say that Smith is an asshole, only that they the lawsuit stance seems an asshole-type maneuver to me! :)


    • Joe @$uburbanwino

      you can only be a rock star if you were in a rock band. Not a roadie. And not for bands that barely qualify as "rock". Sorry, Dennis DeYoung. "Babe" just doesn't rock that hard. And please don't get me started on "Mister Roboto".

      • 1WineDude

        Joe – Mr. Roboto kicks ass! What are you talking about!? :)

  • Galen Struwe

    Well played, my friend. But he is an asshole. He's surely going to read this so be warned Smith; I'm lawyering up. Can't talk. Allred is on line 2.

    • 1WineDude

      Galen – precisely why I threw out the "I've got a lot lawyer cronies" bit early on in this post… :)

  • dhonig

    Joe, I don't know if your readers are interested, but we're going to have an open forum discussion on blogging and the law, and in partcular wine blogging, tomorrow from 9-10 Eastern. The forum site is – http://palatepress.com/forum/palate-press-stories… and the story it will be based on, other than obviously the Blake Gray story, is here- http://palatepress.com/2010/09/wine-bloggers-and-

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, David – it should be noted that you are the wine blogger's expert on that topic!

  • Randy Pitts

    The option to click "anonymous" should be removed from all blogs. Either one offers up their name and hopefully also their website or they get to be sideline spectators. Period. I do not understand how blog mediators can allow unsubstantiated or suspect claims or outright lies to exist on their site. That's part of playing the media game. Seriously. Besides, I'd like to know with whom I engage in wine talk. Don't you? This appears to be the real time evolution of the online bloggesphere.

    • 1WineDude

      Hi Randy – I'm still ok with an anonymous comment option, however I do agree that it's becoming less and less relevant in our age of near-constant transparency. Cheers!

  • Ken Payton

    I rather liked the faux David Attenborough/PBS fragment.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Ken – I was weaned on the intellectual teat of that guy's nature shows!

  • phillywinefinder

    Right on 1WineDude, good post! To Randy Pitts, here are some thoughts in defense of anonymity which I posted at
    another blog: http://bit.ly/9Maerl

    Libel or slander is wrong whether coming from anonymous or named source. But just because someone chooses to be anonymous doesn’t mean their motives are automatically suspect, or that any criticism they make is uncivil or slanderous.

    As the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, the US Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled in favor of anonymity:

    “Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.” http://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity

    To require everyone, especially bloggers and commenters, to reveal their true identities would sharply reduce information and debate and would make the Internet a much less interesting place. Ultimately it would unfairly privilege those who have the power to not be concerned about being anonymous, or those who have the power to punish anyone who disagrees with them.

    • 1WineDude

      "Libel or slander is wrong whether coming from anonymous or named source. But just because someone chooses to be anonymous doesn’t mean their motives are automatically suspect, or that any criticism they make is uncivil or slanderous. "

      VERY well stated, phillywine!!!

  • Raley

    I kind of miss the days when, if someone had a bone to pick with someone else, they'd just confront them, face to face. It's somewhat cowardly to post anonymously; anyone can be clever, witty and cruel when they're name (and agenda) is hidden. Still, Smith chose the route of positioning himself as a "celebrity." He bought into the cult of celebrity mentality, which says that the loudest, most bombastic person gets the most attention. When you willingly put yourself in the public line of fire (with comments like those that he made at the HdR, for example) you open yourself up to a veritable shit-storm of judgement. You can't expect to get a lot of attention, and to be widely admired or widely fawned over, without also accepting the fall out that comes with that kind of notoriety.

  • Raley

    For me, the writing was on the wall when Smith told that woman (his own employee) at the HdR that she could "fuck up a blow job"…..he showed himself to be an attention seeker and showman, so pull up a seat, Smith. The show has begun. And, by the way, it is quite possible to "fuck up a blow job." It's very hard for a woman to hold a pair of tweezers, a magnifying glass, and to suck, all at the same time.

    • 1WineDude


      Raley – I can appreciate having some ire at Smith for those comments and for the lawsuit, but let's not get too out-of-hand here (the only sucking I want to read about here is the sucking sound we're making when slurping wine!). Thanks!

  • @WCICellars

    Just another reason to not use Blogger as your blogging software!

    • 1WineDude

      I can supply several other reasons not to use Blogger if anyone needs them (remember, I'm a Blogger platform escapee here! :-) …

  • Diego Ricci

    on-line socially active, sexy, douche-bag, AND a poo-flinger? I feel prettyyyy! :D

    • 1WineDude

      Well, Diego, let's look on the bright side: likely there are several species of primates that might find us attractive, right?


  • Steve Heimoff

    Dude, relax. Chill. Take a deep breath. Don't get your knickers in a twist. Center yourself. Om mani padmi om. There. Now, don't you feel better? Just remember: you are the future. All the poop to which you refer is the past. This Charles doesn't matter. The threatened lawsuit is bogus. Just go on doing your positivity thing and don't let the assholes get you down!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Steve… oommmmmmmmm…. <reaching for my Osho books now>….

  • 1WineDude

    Karin – well, I reap what I sow in this case I suppose! :)

  • Randy Pitts

    Anonymity is for complete weasels. There's no need for it and I detest those who hide behind mean, senseless accusations esp. when the person does not reveal themselves. this automatically flags as suspect. This guy Smith sounds like a fool, esp claiming how he picks the right brls and makes complete slop with alc's in the strata and wines completely devoid of natural acid (in my winemaker's opinion), however, I'd go to the depths of my pockets (as well) to out anyone who talks chit and won't reveal themselves. It's just plain crazy to allow "anonymous" postings.

    It might be different if they are saying complimentary things, although then it could be a friend or distributor who's pluggin the wine or person, but at least it's not damaging.

    • 1WineDude

      Valid points on anonymity, Randy – but I'd also say that the moderator has a part to play in calling out the claims of the anonymous commenters as well.

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks for the support, Brian!

The Fine Print

This site is licensed under Creative Commons. Content may be used for non-commercial use only; no modifications allowed; attribution required in the form of a statement "originally published by 1WineDude" with a link back to the original posting.

Play nice! Code of Ethics and Privacy.

Contact: joe (at) 1winedude (dot) com





Sign up, lushes!

Enter your email address to subscribe and get all the good stuff via email.

Join 36,885 other subscribers