Superstorm's 'Strangest Story' a Tale of Wine, Ruin

WineCare's high-profile clients still don't know if their tony bottles are OK

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 22, 2013 7:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – The New York Times today shares what it's calling "one of the strangest stories to emerge from" Superstorm Sandy: that of WineCare, a tony Manhattan wine storage facility that has been all but mum in the eight months since it was flooded in the storm. The players in the saga: furious clients, an unsympathetic judge, and a silent owner. As the Times explains, in the aftermath of the storm Derek Limbocker told his clients via email that "we believe at least 95% of the wine [27,000 cases] we are storing is fine." That was likely somewhat reassuring news, considering the value of the wines it held—the Times cites one client, a NYC hedge fund manager, whose collection is worth an estimated $5.2 million.

But clients' relief ended there: Since Sandy, they haven't been able to retrieve a single bottle. They're still paying monthly fees, as Limbocker filed for bankruptcy protection; he revealed at a March creditors' meeting that thousands of bottles shattered as they were being moved in his warehouse. Some of his clients filed a motion asking the bankruptcy court to force a trustee upon the company. The judge's not-exactly-sympathetic response to their lawyers: "There were thousands of victims of Hurricane Sandy, most of which suffered a great deal more than your clients have." So for now, they wait, as the wine world watches. Says a lawyer with $100,000 worth of wine at the facility: "It's the craziest thing I've ever seen."

This image provided by NASA shows the eastern seaboard at night from a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite as Hurricane Sandy came ashore on Oct. 30, 2012.
This image provided by NASA shows the eastern seaboard at night from a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite as Hurricane Sandy came ashore on Oct. 30, 2012.   (AP Photo/NASA)
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