The New Stoll & Wolfe

After spending more than $30,000 in legal fees defending the use of Bomberger’s, Avianna Ponzi and her partners decided to settle with Chatham Imports over the trademark dispute. Last month, the former Lebanon County, Pa.-based Bomberger’s made the announcement that it changed to the name to Stoll and Wolfe. (Read about the trademark dispute.)

The new name comes from the last Pennsylvania-based Michter’s Master Distiller Dick Stoll and Ponzi’s husband Erik’s last name.

Stoll, a brand partner and the distiller, is a distilling icon whose hands distilled some of the greatest American whiskey ever. While I objectively covered the trademark dispute between the former Bomberger’s and Chatham Imports, even writing about it in Whisky Magazine, I selfishly hoped this would get resolved so Stoll could make whiskey again. Now, as Ponzi (who is not related to the Ponzi scheme guy) embarks on a new journey, I caught up with her to discuss the past and future.

 

 

How are you feeling about settling and no longer using Bomberger’s?

We’re very happy to be putting it all behind us and moving forward. Dick is very excited. He was really coming to the end of his station with the whole {lawsuit}. We were excited to revive Bomberger’s, but it didn’t really seem like anyone else besides Chatham and us really care about it.

 

The most important thing, I think, is just to be continuing the Pennsylvania tradition more so than in a name. We still plan on having a museum, hopefully, at the original Pennsylvania location, and moving on with Stoll & Wolfe. At the end of the day, we just couldn’t put any more money into fighting. It’s more important to preserve history via production of whiskey than legal fees.

Do you regret starting out with the name Bomberger’s?

No. We don’t have any regrets. When we started it, we really, absolutely had no idea that any of this would come to pass. It wasn’t even on our radar. If we had to do it all over again maybe we’d do it differently, but I don’t regret trying to revive a great Pennsylvania whiskey brand. It’s all part of the process. I think we’ve picked up some great supporters because of everything’s that happened as we move along in our journey, so no regrets.

You mentioned a museum. When you pursue this, do you plan to work with Chatham’s Michter’s?

Hopefully, down the road, we will be able to do that. I mean, it is part of the their brands legacy as well, so I don’t see why not. If they want to be involved they certainly can.

So, you would be open to working with them even after they sued you?

I mean, strictly in the preservation capacity, yeah.

Tell me about the whiskey.

Stoll and Wolfe - Hang Tag 7.31.15We’ll be rebranding as Stoll & Wolfe, continuing with our blend, and then I would say towards the late fall, we’ll probably be taking over a building here in our home town of Lititz and starting licensing and bonds, diverting all capital towards building a distillery.

Where are your sources for your current whiskey and when can we expect to see the new name on the shelves?

 We’ll have to restart the whole {label-approval} process of TTB and state approval, which takes two months. The batch of MGP high-rye bourbon and rye from Death’s Door will be 1,500 bottles at $50.99 in Pennsylvania. The first batch of Stoll & Wolfe will be available maybe mid-October.

I think I speak for many whiskey geeks and that these 1,500 bottles will fly off the shelf. We love first bottlings. 

 

You really think so?

Yes, I do. If it is anything like your last product, formerly known as Bomberger’s, it will become a nice niche product for whiskey drinkers. In fact, the only Dick Stoll-signed bottle of Bomberger’s sold for $375 at a Louisville Bourbon Society auction. If that doesn’t signal demand, I don’t know what does. 

 

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One Reply to “The New Stoll & Wolfe”

  1. Thanks Fred Minnick, you are one of the few whiskey journalists who have followed the whole story and have been impartially supportive of the Bomberger, now Stoll and Wolfe mission.
    You are welcome in Lititz anytime, hopefully to cut the ribbon on our new adventure.
    Through adversity and conflict you find out who you can count on and trust.
    Thanks my friend!
    Jim Wolfe

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