After the Fire, Looking to the Future
In the wake of one of the worst disasters to ever hit the California wine industry, the owners of the Wines Central warehouse are working to cleanup and repair their building. On October 12th, 2005, $200 million worth of wine was destroyed in a suspicious fire that investigators believe was the result of arson.
Mark Anderson has been arrested and charged with arson in the fire as well as several counts of embezzlement. Prosecutors contend that Anderson was stealing wine from clients and set the fire to cover up his activities. Anderson has pled not guilty, and even if he is found responsible, many wineries will still be affected by the devastating loss of the fire for years to come.
Although Wines Central had insurance for the building itself, individual wineries were responsible for insuring their own products. Many of the smaller wineries lacked proper coverage and were deeply hurt by the fire. One example was Coho Winery, which lost all but 12 cases of their 2003 vintage.
Debbie Polverino, manager of Wines Central, recently told the Napa Valley Register how taken aback many wineries were when they heard news of the fire.
> “They didn’t think anything would happen, and nobody expected arson. Some of the smaller wineries are having a hard time. … Wineries lost face for a year in the market. Some were able to release their new vintage early and others had to sit it out. A few didn’t have anything left.”
Although Polverino added that, “Most wineries have been compensated by their insurance companies at this time,” this is not the case for everyone. Even wineries that were adequately insured are facing red tape and headaches as they try to collect for their damages.
At this point, all that Wines Central and Polverino can do is look to the future and take steps to prevent this catastrophe from ever repeating. “We are moving forward and expect to rebuild our business and put this nightmare behind us.”