Suspect Charged in Wine Arson
Mike Anderson, a 58 year old man from Sausalito, has been charged with arson in a fire that destroyed as much as $300 million worth of wine at the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo. The blaze stunned the California wine industry, as over 90 wineries stored much of their merchandise at Wines Central.
What made the fire particularly devastating was the fact that many wineries housed rare, vertical collections at the warehouse. These wines are irreplaceable, and blaze put a dent in the historical production of many California wineries. In a particularly egregious example, Saintsbury lost the bulk of its older inventory dating to 1979.
Anderson owns Sausalito Cellars, a company that specializes in storing high-end wine. He rented part of the Wines Central warehouse for his commercial and private clients. Prosecutors contend that Anderson sold much of his clients’ wine without their knowledge through a different company. Because of this, he is also charged with tax evasion and fraud.
In 2005, Anderson’s attorney, Douglas Rappaport, told the San Francisco Chronicle that, “He would have no motive whatsoever to set a fire. Mark may be the obvious culprit, as in ‘the butler did it.’ But I’ve played enough Clue to know that the butler never does it.”
In addition to these recent legal troubles, Anderson is also facing several counts of embezzlement in Marin County. These charges are the result of allegations that 7,600 cases of wine worth an estimated $1.1 million have gone missing. Anderson has pled not guilty in this case.