About a month ago, my friend and fellow wine writer Blake Gray wrote a piece on his blog about a visit with Charles Smith of K Vintners in Washington. Smith is a larger than life winemaker with a reputation that is even larger (and more controversial). Several anonymous commenters on Blake's piece took swipes at Smith, and Blake announced today that Smith is suing those commenters and requesting that Google (who hosts Blake's blog) disclose the IP addresses of those anonymous commenters so they can be brought to court.
I don't know about you, but this is damn interesting stuff.
For starters Smith's legal action doesn't exactly dispel characterizations of what might charitably be described as his irascible personality. The lawsuit is likely to not only shine a spotlight of attention on the very comments he is upset about, but also to bring all the rest of his detractors into the fore, many of whom I assume will not be frightened off by the threat of legal action. My own experiences in Washington exposed me to a number of stories about him that make it clear he has made a lot of enemies.
Secondly, I believe the lawsuit won't go anywhere. Google is not going to cough up the IP addresses of the folks that commented on Blake's blog for the same reason they're not going to give up the IP addresses of the people who write blog posts alleging that our current President is a Muslim, foreign-born national (and much worse). The Internet seems to have adjusted the threshold for libel these days, and especially behind a curtain of anonymity, even outlandish lies about someone aren't really prosecuteable. Just ask all the businesses who agonize over very negative reviews on Yelp that aren't based on real facts.
Mr. Smith comes off quite badly in all this, and would be best served to drop the whole thing, though I suspect that's not necessarily in his nature.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Images: The Blue Berry 2014 Family Winemakers Tasting: August 17, San Mateo Will Climate Change be the Death of Cork? The King of Zweigelt: The Wines of Umathum, Burgenland Vinography Unboxed: Week of July 14, 2014 Vinography Images: Solar Powered Dot Wine and the Fear of Change Annual Napa Wine Library Tasting: August 10, Napa Vinography Unboxed: Week of July 7, 2014 Vinography Images: The Berry
Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 KirÃ¡lyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy