Many wine collectors are scratching their heads at the news that one of the best restaurants in America, the French Laundry, could have been burglarized. Chef Thomas Keller maintains a staff of over 120 people, and the French Laundry operates nearly round the clock. Despite the high level of security, someone managed to make off with over $300,000 of gems from the French Laundry cellar on Christmas Day, when the restaurant was closed for renovation. This should be a wakeup call to all collectors since most cellars are even more vulnerable.
In the case of French Laundry, the wine thief had a nose for high-end wine, bypassing hundreds of bottles of lesser vintages to nab the priciest wines in the collection. In the process, the thief made off with 76 bottles including some French Burgundy treasures, Screaming Eagle, and most notably, Domaine de la Romaneé-Conti, which sells for more than $10,000 a bottle internationally.
Wine theft is not that common compared to other sources of loss, like heat damage or breakage, but it does happen. The best tools to protect your collection include:
- Comprehensive insurance coverage
- Home alarm and/or video surveillance
- Accurate inventory
- Keeping your cellar locked
- Temperature alarms
- Backup generator
As thieves realize the potential profit in nabbing high-end bottles of wine it becomes more important to protect your collection. Private collectors, wine stores and restaurants are all susceptible to the type of burglary that the French Laundry experienced. Protecting your wine with a comprehensive insurance plan that covers not only theft, but also the backup of sewers and drains, electrical and mechanical breakdown, transit, earthquake, named storm and windstorms, and flooding will give you a piece of mind that your valuable collection is protected.
Photo Credit: Eric Risberg / AP