How to Name a Winery"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"
-- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Receiving tersely worded letters from lawyers is not fun. It causes aggravation and invariably raises your blood pressure a bit. But this is something that happened twice on my quest to find a suitable name for this winery. Allow me to explain...
While many incorporate their family name into their winery name, or borrow a name from a nearby mountain, or even come up with something fanciful, I wasn't convinced those options would work for me. I knew from the start I wanted a name that reflected the rustic charm, wide open spaces, and Spanish influences of southeastern Arizona. For me it's just as important that the winery name reflect the "terroir" (the sense of place) as it is for the wine to do so. Complicating this effort is the fact that there are over eight thousand wineries in the U.S., and virtually every name you can imagine is already in use somewhere.
As I started considering various options in early 2014 one of my first potential names was "Frontier Cellars". That seemed to capture what I was looking for, but a quick trademark search turned up a possible conflict. The Fess Parker winery in California already held a trademark for "Frontier Red", a proprietary red wine name. Not wanting to give up this great name too easily, I sent a very polite email to the management at Fess Parker asking if they thought this winery name infringed upon their trademark. Within a week I received a letter from their attorney telling me to forget it, in so many words.
So back to the drawing board I went. But this time I solicited input from a number of friends in the wine business in the Willcox area, as well as a few people in my extended family who have marketing experience in the wine and spirits business. This group became my ad hoc naming committee, and over the weeks that followed we exchanged ideas via email. The names we considered ran the gamut from historical to geographical and even included a number of fanciful names. The result of this collaboration was a name I thought was perfectly suited to this endeavor, "Outland Wineworks". A search of Arizona trade names and the federally registered trademarks turned up no conflicts, so I jumped into action and quickly registered it with the state and started the process with the patent and trademark office. Months went by and I had started to consider the larger branding effort when another letter arrived in the mail. This one from an attorney representing the Kendall-Jackson winery. It turns out that I had missed a potential conflict. They already held a trademark for "Outland Ridge", a sort of proprietary appellation name. The letter was lengthy and cited a number of relevant court cases, but not being totally deterred I referred the matter to a friend who works in trademark law. He told me "sure, you can win this, but it will cost you thirty to forty thousand dollars". Not having thousands of dollars to spend on legal fees, I abandoned the trademark.
So back to the drawing board once again. This time though, running short of fresh ideas, I decided to solicit ideas from local history buffs, and no one is more familiar with the history of Willcox and southeastern Arizona than Kathy Klump. As the head of the local historical society she also had the reference material that I needed with information not found elsewhere. Kathy and I met right after Christmas in 2014 at the historical society building in Willcox, and prior to my arrival she had already identified various books with the type of information I was looking for. These documented the people, places, and events that are important to the history of southeastern Arizona. I spent hours at the historical society that day, and I came away with a long list of possibilities. Some would clearly be more appropriate for a wine than a winery, but there were quite few that I really thought would work. I shared them with my ad hoc naming committee and then performed a thorough trademark search on each one that made it to our short list of possibilities. Well, you know how this story ends. The name that survived until the end was Laramita Cellars. But where does it come from? "La Ramita" expressed as two words means "the twig" in Spanish, but as one word it comes from Arizona's first port of entry from Mexico, the town of Laramita. This town now exists only as a concrete place marker near the city of Douglas but it has found new life in this winery. And you may be wondering how to pronounce it… that is, should the first "a" be a long "a" or a short "a"? Well, phonetically it should be long "a" but I prefer to pronounce it as a short "a" in keeping with the Spanish "la ramita". If you buy my wine though you can pronounce it any way you want; I'll never correct you.
Owner, Laramita Cellars