Sheriff's deputies were sent last week to intervene in a dispute between the partners of Mendocino Wine Co. connected to the departure of co-owner Paul Dolan, who helped pioneer the spread of organic winemaking in California.
Dolan, one of the most prominent wine executives on the North Coast, claimed he was ousted as a partner of the Ukiah company he helped create in 2004 to acquire the historic Parducci Wine Cellars, according to a source familiar with Friday's incident.
Deputies were called to a location near the winery off Parducci Road in Ukiah on Friday afternoon to intercede in the dispute, said Mendocino Sheriff's Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.
"There was definitely a falling out," Smallcomb said. "There was definitely something that took place between the partners in that business."
Deputies determined the matter was a civil dispute, not criminal in nature, and told the parties to resolve it themselves, Smallcomb said.
"We're there to keep the peace," Smallcomb said.
Tim and Thomas Thornhill, partners in Mendocino Wine Co., did not return telephone messages left over two days.
Dolan also did not return telephone messages left over two days. Jan Mettler, spokeswoman for Paul Dolan Vineyards, declined to comment.
Dolan is no longer listed as a partner on the Mendocino Wine Co. website. His photograph has been removed from the company's homepage, where it was displayed prominently in a version cached by an Internet search engine last April. It was unclear Tuesday when the company made the changes.
Prior to co-founding Mendocino Wine Co., Dolan served more than a decade as president of Fetzer Vineyards, developing the nation's largest organic wine operation.