More Wine Warehouse Fire News and Thoughts

Wednesday’s massive fire at a wine storage warehouse will be remembered for a long time to come by many in the wine industry and those who treasure not just fine wine but the history of CA wine.

The blaze at Wines Central’s 240,000 square foot facility in Vallejo, California was the resting spot for a number of wineries’ current and future releases as well as "library wines", those older vintages not meant for sale for for posterity.

At this point, I’m aware of the following wineries that lost wines of one sort or another n the fire.

Trey Sabore, Whitehall Lane, Thackery, Livingston-Moffett, Von Strasser, Signorello, Frazier, Saintsbury, ZD, Justin Vineyards, Domaine La Due, Lehrer Family Vineyard, Tamayo Family Vineyards.

If anyone out there has updates on wineries that lost inventory feel free to post that information here.

It’s hard to feel worse for one winery over another. It’s tough, even with insurance kicking in, to have your product destroyed. In the wine industry you don’t just go manufacture more. You have to wait. Many wineries who lost their current or soon-to-be-released vintages will be out of the market place for a year or more. That means they lose cash flow as well as their places on retail shelves and wine lists.

But then there are wineries like Saintsbury, with whom I’ve done some work. It appears, based on what co-founder Dick Ward said in today’s San Francisco Chronicle and based on my chat with him, that most of their Library wines have been lost in the blaze. This won’t keep Saintsbury of the shelves anywhere or see their bottlings dropped from wine lists. However, the loss is really staggering for historic and sentimental reasons.

Saintsbury is one of California’s oldest great Pinot producers and champions of Carneros winemaking and is celebrating their 25th harvest this year. Dick Ward and David Graves began their quest to make great "Burgundian" wines in 1980. Each vintage they saved a certain number of cases of each wine for posterity as well as to be able to go back and evaluate how their winemaking efforts aged. It’s a common practice among serious and forward thinking vintners. Most of those Saintsbury Pinots dating back to the early and mid 1980s and forward to the present vintages were destroyed. The winery did keep a certain amount of back vintages at the winery, so all is not lost….just the bulk.

It’s hard to put a price on a bottle of 1985 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir. Though I’m sure the insurance agency will do that, this figure can’t account for what is learned by tasting the wine.

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6 Responses

  1. Derrick Schneider - October 14, 2005

    I just got a press release from Long Meadow Ranch saying they were heavily affected.

  2. Carolyn Tillie - October 14, 2005

    There is a grassroots efforts within the wine industry to help many of the victims with a small rebuilding of their libraries.
    Obviously there is no way to replace the vast amounts that were lost, but when a winery has lost their ENTIRE history, even having a case or two from their own past is a small start.
    I know of no one yet who is organizing this endeavor. It is simply being chatted about on the various lists and I’m sure when a complete list is available of wineries who have lost their history, that there will be some sort of organization to this.
    I have very little in the way of library wines, but I believe there is a bottle or two of Saintsbury that will be going back to them from my own cellar…
    I’m brainstorming that this is something we bloggers can help facilitate — what do you think?

  3. Mike Duffy - October 15, 2005

    According to a Press Democrat story today, goldridgepinot of Sebastopol lost all of their inaugural release (goldridgepinot is Brice Jones, Ted Elliott et al., the original people behind Sonoma-Cutrer).

  4. Kenneth J. Givich/Owner/wine maker Givich Vineyards, Inc. - October 19, 2005

    We are a relatively new premium boutique winery out of Napa and we had all our inventory for 2002 and 2003 stored at Wines Central. As of Wednesday October 12, 2005 we had no product to sell on the open market!

  5. johng - October 24, 2005

    Marilyn Wines lost almost all of their 2003 Velvet Collection as well as their remaining inventory of 2002 Velvet Collection.

  6. Jeremy Bivins - October 24, 2005

    I lost 202 cases of my first release, a 2003 Sonoma County Zin, at the Wines Central fire. We served the only existing salvages at our wedding in Mendocino this weekend.
    I think what troubles me the most besides the arson, and the stories of employees turning off the fire alarm, is the fact that I have heard absolutely nothing from Wines Central. And now their website is down.

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