A New York wine storage facility
affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 is the center of controversy as a
bankruptcy court decides on whether or not to liquidate the inventory. The
question is exactly what happened to all those reds, whites and rosés that
WineCare coddled in its temperature-controlled cellars in New York City, and
why have most of its clients still been unable to get anywhere near their wine?
WineCare is owned by Derek L.
Limbocker, a onetime financial adviser, publisher of rare art prints and
society figure in Newport, RI, and New York. He has sought protection from
creditors in bankruptcy court, while he says he struggles to salvage his
business and the 270,000 bottles of rare and valuable wine stored by
financiers, high-powered litigators and real estate investors in his cellars in
a West Chelsea warehouse. The problems began when water poured into the cellars
during Hurricane Sandy.
Judge Robert E. Gerber of United
States Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan held a hearing on whether to liquidate
WineCare, opening the door to resolving a yearlong mystery.
Mr. Limbocker, 73, seems
bewildered by the turn of events that has brought his once-thriving business to
its knees. He has had to endure accusations from ungrateful clients, he said,
“that we’re thieves, that we sold the wine or threw it into the Hudson.”
“We’ve told nothing but the
truth,” Mr. Limbocker added. “We’ve stored our clients’ wine safely and under
the right conditions since the storm hit.” There’s no question that Hurricane
Sandy drove the waters of the Hudson into the warehouse’s basement. How high
water rose and what affect it had on the inventory is unclear.
But many clients have not had
access to their wine and have run out of patience. Another factor affecting the
situation is that WineCare’s computer system was destroyed when a pipe burst
and flooded the company’s offices.
The labels on some of the bottles
are “stained, torn or faded as a result of Sandy,” according to a report by a
court-appointed monitor. The wine may not have been affected but, according to
wine experts, that kind of damage would reduce the value of the bottles.
Until the bankruptcy court rules,
clients will be without access to their wine. Click here to read the original article
in the New York Times.