Winery Liability: What Are You Not Protected Against?

While winery owners know they need commercial general liability insurance, there are a host of other potential threats unique to wineries that you might not be properly insured for.
Categories: Business Insurance
Sep 27th, 2018 | By: CapriCMW

Have you ever considered what would happen if your customer records were hacked? How about a picking bucket on the helipad catching wind and hitting a guest in the back of the head?

While winery insurance owners know they need commercial general liability (CGL) insurance for coverage against things like theft or guests slipping and falling, there are a host of other potential threats unique to wineries that you might not be properly insured for.

Special Events

Hosting a music event on the sprawling, sun-lit grounds above your vineyard would make for a memorable night, but do you have the right coverage?

Winery special events are becoming bigger, with audiences reaching in the hundreds. If you’re hosting a concert and more than few hundred people are attending, you may need separate coverage to protect against potential liability arising from you actual or alleged negligence.

Host Liquor        

Imagine your winery is the fourth stop on a couple’s wine tour, and by the time they walk into your tasting room, they’ve already had five glasses of wine. Of course, now that everyone who pours needs Serving It Right, hopefully your staff will recognize a guest who may already be inebriated. But tasting rooms get busy and it can be hard to tell sometimes.

So, one of these guests has the equivalent of another glass by the time he leaves and gets behind the wheel of a car that he crashes down the road. It’s likely each winery that day—including yours—could be named in a lawsuit.

In addition to limiting your exposure by urging tasting room staff to be mindful of driving guests who shouldn’t be served, a host liquor policy offers protection in the event of these kinds of incidents.

Selling to the US 

As you know, our neighbours to the south don’t shy away from lawsuits for product defects or poor experiences. Imagine if your screw caps were defective and cut an American surgeon’s finger, or a bottle exploded on a single mom. These types of incidents may seem far-fetched, but they can and do happen.

If you’re selling wine to the US, we urge winery operators to consider a policy that that protects against expensive foreign lawsuits (that have to be settled in a Canadian court) to cover the cost of your defense.


What happens when the chemicals you use to clean your tanks and barrels accidentally leak into a stream or neighbouring property? You could face lawsuits from other property owners as well as fines for environmental violations. A pollution liability policy can cover gradual and sudden pollution incidents, regulatory enforcement action and third-party claims, emergency response costs and cost of cleaning up on-site pollution as well as off-site impacts.

Helicopter Landing Pads 

More and more winery owners are giving into the dramatic entrance of the helicopter, and helicopter tours. Of course, those operators will have their own liability and can add your winery to their policy, but if something happens on the landing pad and it’s caused by your equipment and negligence (ie that picking bucket catching wind with the propeller’s landing and hitting a guest), your CGL policy won’t cover the claim.

Liability for helicopter landing pads isn’t an expensive policy, and it gets the coverage you need for this extra on-site activity.

Cyber Breaches 

Wine clubs and customer relationship management platforms are elevating how wineries connect with customers, but what happens if your systems get hacked and all of your contacts’ personal information is stolen? Or suppose your system is hacked and fake invoices are sent to your suppliers?

In Canada, privacy laws require businesses to notify affected customers if there’s been a privacy breach. The process of creating and delivering this communication and subsequently handling the responses can be extremely costly and take significant time and resources away from your daily operations.  

CapriCMW Winery Insurance offers a $25,000 privacy breach expense coverage to help cover the costs involved in advising your customers (higher limits are available) and also a $250,000 privacy breach liability policy with no deductible because unfortunately these stories are becoming more common and the damage isn’t covered under CGL.

Tractors and Forklifts 

Did you know that all private roads that connect to public roads (and yes this includes your parking lot!) require all vehicles to be licensed and insured for liability and that includes your tractors and forklifts! Your CGL wouldn’t cover a situation in which a forklift bumped into a guest’s car or a bin of grapes fell and hit a guest—even if it’s in your parking lot.

Again, these kinds of incidents are unlikely, but they can and do happen, and in those cases, operators always wish they had known they weren’t properly covered.


With so much potential for risk at your winery, how will you know for sure if you’re properly insured? CapriCMW’s winery insurance expert, Robert Fiume specializes in winery insurance and takes the time to learn about your operation, including extra activities and hidden liabilities.  Reach out to the trusted winery insurance experts at CapriCMW: 250-869-3815 

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