At harvest season in BC, grape pickers lumber between vines, each hand gripping a 10-gallon pail stuffed with yellow-gold or ruby-black grapes. For the grapes, and for the winery operators, they’ve made it against their biggest challenge—Mother Nature—but between harvest and shipping to stores, dozens of other hurdles can arise.
From tank punctures and faulty bottles to theft and water damage, we review the top winery insurance claims in BC.
Tank Failures & Punctures
Just days or weeks after the sweat and toil of harvest, a bin is tipped into the hopper, the press begins to squeeze the grapes for their sweet juice, the cellar hand closes the lid and leaves the press to continue crushing overnight.
Only in the middle of the night, the press malfunctions, and in the morning, the winery owner walks into the tank room to find the press has prematurely squeezed out the precious juice. The loss? In one case in BC, almost $15,000.
Tank failures, often caused by hoses not being hooked up properly as wine is pumped from one tank to another, can beset even the most experienced winemakers.
During harvest and spring bottling, tank punctures tend to become more prevalent as smaller teams are stretched and rushing to meet deadlines. In one recent winery insurance claim in BC, the forklift hit a tank and knocked off the valve. The forklift operator and the crew in the area were forced to watch nearly 7,000 litres of wine spill to the ground.
Among the top winery insurance claims, this could be the most devastating. Three or four years after seeding, countless days of pruning and hundreds of hours of sunlight, the wine is nearly at the end of its journey at your winery: bottling.
Bottling errors tend to happen in one of three ways: defective glass that can’t handle the pressure explodes, or the bottling line isn’t calibrating properly, or flecks of glass are found in a bottle and a product recall is launched for all the wine bottled that day.
In one recent case, a bottler misaligned the bottles and screw caps, cutting the glass and leaving shards of glass in the bottles of nearly 3,000 cases of wine. Each bottle had to be reopened, filtered, and rebottled. In another case, faulty glass couldn’t handle the pressure and hundreds of bottles exploded.
For winemakers, there’s nothing more gut-wrenching than losing an entire season, especially to defective bottles or bottling errors. Both revenue and reputation are at stake.
With so many wineries located in rural areas just off the beaten path enough to grow quiet and dim at night, these estates have become a target for theft and vandalism, especially if the winery is poorly lit or lacks security. Thieves have identified wineries house expensive, mobile equipment, such as compressors and tools that are easily converted to cash at a pawn shop.
While security cameras can’t always prevent theft, they will help to deter some thieves, or at least provide evidence later.
One BC winery had two back-to-back break-ins causing $12,000 in loss of equipment and $5,000 in vandalism to hand-carved wooden doors.
Fortunately, while water damage exposes the facility and/or the grounds, it usually has little or no impact on the wine.
Burst pipes tends to be the cause of water damage to winery building and contents, but in 2017, operators saw damage to outbuildings like pumphouses and to their piers from exceptional seasonal flooding near lakes.
Are you looking for a BC winery insurance broker who truly understands your needs, and will go above and beyond to help protect your investment and reduce your risk to common claims? Reach out to the trusted winery insurance experts at CapriCMW: 250-869-3815.