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Wine Law Updates: Restaurants Sue Wine Storage Facility, Revealing Seller’s Name at Auction, and Calorie Labeling for Wine in the UK

Some very interesting updates over the last week have occurred for the wine and law community. Below are three of the most interesting, involving a wine storage facility, potential new rules at auction, and calorie labels in the United Kingdom.

East Coast Restaurants Sue WineCare Storage Facility for $2 Million of Wine After Hurricane Sandy—Most of us are familiar with the boisterous Hurricane Sandy that struck the East Coast last fall. In its aftermath, according to New York Restaurants Sue Storage Facility for $2 Million of Wine in Hurricane Limbo, two of Keith McNally’s NYC restaurants—Minetta Tavern and Morandi—filed a lawsuit against WineCare, a storage facility in downtown Manhattan that sustained damages from Hurricane Sandy and filed for bankruptcy on January 30, 2013. Allegedly, the storage facility is yet to allow its customers to gain access to wines held by the facility. In the jointly-filed complaint, plaintiffs allege that WineCare has not allowed its clients to access their wines, despite both requests and demands of the plaintiffs, which are currently held by the defendant without the consent of the plaintiffs. See the rest of the story at New York Restaurants Sue Storage Facility for $2 Million of Wine in Hurricane Limbo. (Article courtesy of Kevin Swersey.)

New York’s Court of Appeals is to review a recent decision that could have some impact on the wine industry at auction sales. According to Lawyers Fight to Keep Auction Sellers Anonymous, the established practice (in New York) of keeping an auction seller’s name anonymous may come to an end if the Court of Appeals affirms the decision by its appellate division. The current ruling does not require sellers to reveal their names publicly, but does state that buyers are entitled to know the name of the sellers (as opposed to the current practice of stating the work is from a “private collection”). If the New York Court of Appeals is to affirm the lower court decision, this could change the practice for wine sold at auction, including auction houses like Christie’s. See the full story at Lawyers Fight to Keep Auction Sellers Anonymous. (Article courtesy of Kevin Swersey.)

Finally, what I find to be incredibly interesting and relevant to my field of work in wine and food law, recent news maintains that the United Kingdom is considering calorie labels for beer, wines, and spirits. This consideration stems from the UK’s desire to reduce or discourage binge drinking. The government feels that, by adding a calorie count to alcohol beverages, the calorie count could encourage individuals monitoring their weight to drink less. See Calorie Labels for Beer, Wine and Spirits Considered by UK Government. No such requirement exists in the United States, at least not for wines that are at or above 7% alcohol by volume or greater. (Wines with less than 7% alcohol by volume are regulated by FDA and are generally required to have a nutrition facts panel, which includes a calorie count, but there can be exceptions.)

Lindsey A. Zahn


Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Joel Rubins February 14, 2013, 10:10 AM

    Wines released eventually from the storage facility in NYC will undoubtedly be sent by owners into the auction market . Will the statement “collection removed from professional storage facility” raise eyebrows?

  • Skip Coomber February 14, 2013, 11:47 AM

    Congrats on passing the bar from another lawyer who is in the wine industry. Finally received my 02 license from the ABC and awaiting California’s issuance, then can start selling.

    Legal issues, from NIMBY’ism to inevitable “disclosure of contents” laws are going to continue to keep the industry on its toes. You’re a valuable resource for us. I look forward to following your writings.

  • Lindsey A. Zahn Lindsey A. Zahn February 14, 2013, 2:06 PM

    Good point, Joel. Kind of reminds me a bit of “Storage Wars.”

  • Lindsey A. Zahn Lindsey A. Zahn February 14, 2013, 2:06 PM

    Hi, Skip. Thanks so much for the kind words and the congratulations. It is such a pleasure to hear On Reserve is a good resource!

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