WineCare, a New York based wine storage facility, which was flooded by Hurricane Sandy last year, is at the centre of a complex legal battle involving millionaire collectors and a famous restaurateur.
A number of customers of the company, which provided commercial wine storage in a basement, are suing the company for damages, claiming that they have been prevented from accessing their wine since Hurricane Sandy struck last October, reports Decanter magazine.
WineCare, established by former banker Derek Limbocker, filed for bankruptcy protection last January. It believes that 95% of the 27,000 cases of wine stored in the basement are fine. Although the customers have “lost faith in Derek Limbocker’s judgement, his management ability and, most importantly, his integrity”, he and his supporters maintain that he filed for bankruptcy protection to win more time to clean the wine recovered.
Limbocker, at a creditors’ meeting in March admitted that the flooding brought increased humidity and had smashed some bottles and left others without labels, as well as causing the cardboard cartons to disintegrate.
The customers include restaurateur Keith McNally, the London-born operator of outlets such as Balthazar, Minetta Tavern and Morandi in New York. McNally is suing for a total of US$ 3,000,000, and claims that he was forced to buy wine at short notice to make up for the inaccessible WineCare stock.