Case Studies

Days of wine and lawsuits

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The challenge
Old York Cellars, a young and successful New Jersey winery, created a popular product line called What Exit Wines to showcase the winery’s Jersey pride. The winery also committed a portion of the proceeds from each bottle sold to various New Jersey-based charities or causes, the first of which supported Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Enter the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. NJTA threatened the winery with litigation, claiming the What Exit Wine label used color combinations and shapes that caused confusion among consumers as to whether NJTA endorsed drinking and driving. After negotiating in good faith, changing the entire line’s labeling and redesigning the logo at the direction of NJTA, the state agency returned with further demands regarding even more changes to the branding and logo – creating a financial burden on this Garden State small business.

The solution
Old York Cellars turned to Kimball Hughes Public Relations for help. Our team created a strategy to shine a light on how this government entity was using the state’s tax revenues to pay a high-priced law firm to harass a small business. In short order, we brought news crews from FOX News and WFMZ-69 News to the winery to hear firsthand from the owner about the impact of these legal threats to his business. We also secured media coverage with Politico, Wine Business, Forbes,, NJ Biz, NBC 10 News, New Jersey 101.5 FM and others. Working with the winery, our team supported their efforts to leverage the resulting media coverage on social media to apply public and political pressure to NJTA’s efforts. A settlement conference was scheduled weeks later, and the matter is still under negotiation at the time of writing.

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