Last week, vandals opened valves to tanks at Hagafen Cellars in Napa Valley and emptied out 4,000 gallons of kosher wine -- the winery's entire production of its 2002 estate Syrah and 2003 estate Pinot Noir. Hagafen owner Ernie Weir estimated the wines' value at more than $200,000.
The incident occurred either late at night on June 1 or early morning on June 2. The tanks were located outside the winery, next to the building.
"Here I am with my wonderful wines of the current vintage. Now I'm going to have to explain to my customers, both retail and wholesale, that I don't have it any more," Weir said. "The wines are irreplaceable, both because they are kosher and because of their high quality."
Hagafen, which means "the vine" in Hebrew, was established in 1979 by Ernie and Irit Weir and has been producing certified kosher wines since 1980. In 2000, its new winery facility opened on Silverado Trail, just north of the city of Napa. The winery currently produces about 7,000 cases a year, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and a sparkling wine.
No suspects in the vandalism incident have been arrested yet. Mike Loughran, a captain with the Napa County sheriff's department, said, "We're looking at some leads, but we really can't talk about them at this point."