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Cash Crunch at Vinfolio

New investors restructuring San Francisco firm for wine collectors

Tim Fish
Posted: January 19, 2010

Vinfolio, a San Francisco-based company that helps collectors store, manage, buy and sell wine, is the latest wine firm to falter during tough economic times.

The company announced Friday that it was reorganizing and that a new group of investors led by wine-industry veteran Jon Moramarco had acquired Vinfolio's secured debt. The restructuring, known as an assignment for the benefit of creditors, is a state-level alternative to filing for federal bankruptcy protection.

Vinfolio remains in business during the restructuring. "The lights are on and we're operating and shipping wine," said Jay Moore, vice president of marketing, who acknowledged that the company has been inundated with questions from nervous customers.

Because of the filing and the various parties involved, Moramarco and Moore could offer only limited details. Vinfolio's storage warehouses continue to operate as usual and wines stored there remain the private property of customers, Moramarco said. The company currently has nearly half a million bottles of wine in the warehouses.

The fate of wines purchased or sold through Vinfolio remains more vague. "If you bought wine and the order says it was fulfilled but hasn't been shipped yet, you're fine," Moore said. "Wines purchased as pre-arrivals (yet to be released Bordeaux, etc.), we haven't worked out yet."

Moramarco was even less specific. "Unfortunately, I can't give any definite guarantees," he said. "As a secured creditor we're trying to take every step we can so that people are paid for their wines and get the wines they purchased. It will take a little bit of time to sort out."

Launched in 2003, Vinfolio seemed on a successful track. It expanded at a quick clip, particularly focusing on thriving markets in Hong Kong, where it also has an office. In September 2009 it raised $4.5 million in new capital.

By last week, however, its supply of money had dried up. "The previous secured creditor took some action that was against our will that resulted in a few bounced checks," Moore said. "That situation is still being resolved."

Moramarco called it "a cash imbalance," which in layman's terms means Vinfolio was spending more money than it was making. Moore explained it further, "Like everybody in the luxury wine market, there has been pain this year. We're not immune to the forces at play."

In the meantime, Moramarco and his team are trying to put together a new business model that will allow Vinfolio to remain in business and thrive in the future. "Vinfolio provides a good service for wine collectors," he said. "We're just trying to figure out the right road forward."

Brian Mcgonigle
San Francisco, CA USA —  January 20, 2010 12:02pm ET
We wish Vinfolio the best sorting out this situation. If oenophiles decide that they would like another storage and services option for their wine, we offer an alternative private storage service based in San Francisco near the SF Giants ballpark. Our business, called the San Francisco Wine Center, is a brand new state-of-the art facility and offers the added benefit of beautiful lounge and event spaces for our storage clients' private use. Ownership has 35+ years of wine industry experience and also owns distribution, import, and wine industry consulting companies. 415-272-4046 or visit www.sfwinecenter.com to learn more.
Russian River Wine Co
Healdsburg, CA, USA —  January 20, 2010 4:51pm ET
Yes, best of luck to Vinfolio, I've enjoyed their offerings for years. Storage-wise though, let's not forget the "granddaddy of storage facilities, 55 Degrees in St. Helena.

Neil Aldoroty and his crew have been doing it all the right ways since 1999. Being in the nerve center of the wine country has its advantages - members are often hipped to the latest cult wines before the rest of the world finds out.

They do pick ups from all of the wineries and shops in Napa and Sonoma, and their online cellar management program is top-notch.

I'm not only a fan - I keep my collection there. 55 Degrees can be reached at 707-963-5513.
Jeannie Mirassou
San Jose, Ca. —  January 21, 2010 2:27pm ET
My best regards to Vinfolio at this uncertain time.

To all concerned wine collectors, I Jeannie Mirassou of Vines and Assets offer Legal Wine Appraisals to protect the investment of your liquid assets. I have served as a Wine Expert Witness for matters of litigation, insurance and resale.

Please visit me at www.vinesandassets.com

Direct Line 408 205 4946

Cheers to the wonderful world of wine! -Jeannie Mirassou
Fred Taleghani
Palo Alto, CA —  January 28, 2010 1:55am ET
Pulled my wine out, and had no problem doing so but they are unable to give me an answer on my pre arrivals.

I offered to trade the value of the pre arrivals for in stock items I could pick up now but got the same vague answer about it (I have to wait). In otherwords its a no.(Mind you many are way overdue and most have 1-2 vintages out above those already).
Mark Kordonsky
San Francisco, CA —  February 12, 2010 3:04pm ET
We too wish Vinfolio the best sorting out this situation. If collectors decide that they would like a state of art storage solution, we at Ideal55 Wine Lockers offer 24/7 self access to our highly secure facility in the South Beach/Rincon Hill area of the city of San Francisco. We have 6 locations throughout California with additional locations opening in the future. We are owned and operated by wine enthusiasts and collectors like yourselves. We offer shipping to and from some of our facilities, inventory management and moving services. Please visit us at www.ideal55.com or call George at 310-704-2272 for more info.

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