Ensuring smoke taint losses are covered by insurance

In recent years many wineries have experienced losses due to smoke taint. While they maintained both crop insurance and stock insurance coverage, some losses were not covered by either policy due to the inability prove where the damage took place, on or off vine, to the satisfaction of insurance carriers. California is the fourth largest producer of wine in the world. The other three are France, Spain, and Italy. The loss due to these fires is staggeting.

Without adequate proof of where exactly the smoke damage took place, there is a risk that both carriers may fully deny coverage.

With harvest and fire season upon us we have consulted with insurance carriers and recommend these steps to reduce your risk of uninsured losses:

  • Immediately prior to harvest take samples to a third party lab for testing, such as ETS.
  • Select grapes for sampling on random basis and maintain documentation of the sample selection process.  Be prepared to share this with your claim adjuster, and prove sample selection was random.
  • If you decide to not harvest your crop or otherwise destroy tainted wine, send notice to your insurance carriers in advance and offer them the opportunity to be physically present at destruction.
  • Contact your insurance agent with your plans in advance of taking action.

Allen Wine Group provides bookkeeping and accounting services to businesses in the wine industry. Please contact us or call (707) 238-2421 for more information.