Fairwinds Estate Winery in court with an insurance company


Fremont firefighters lowered the American flag at Fairwinds Estate Winery during the 2020 glass fire. Most of the winery facilities were destroyed that day. The owners plan to rebuild. Photo courtesy of Fairwinds Estate Winery.
The main cellar buildings off the Silverado Trail near Calistoga were lost in the glass fire in September 2020, including the barrel room. Photo courtesy of Fairwinds Estate Winery.

A Napa Valley vineyard that burned to the ground in the Glass Fire in 2020 is in court with one of its insurance companies over the insurer’s refusal to pay around $ 2 million, court records show .

The winery, which estimated losses from the Glass Fire at more than $ 15 million, plans to rebuild its property off the Silverado Trail near Calistoga, one of its owners, Anthony Zabit, said Thursday. An architect has been selected.

The estate, which produced 65,000 cases of wine per year and lost 20,000 in 2020, remains in operation. He plans to produce 40,000 cases of wine this year, Zabit said.

In the meantime, the legal fight continues.

Fairwinds Estate Winery, which lost its main building and tasting room near Calistoga on September 27, was insured by two separate insurance policies, according to court documents.

Fairwinds’ main insurance company, Beazley Insurance Services, paid the maximum under the policy – $ 8.31 million, according to court records.

However, Kinsale Insurance Co., which sold the winery an “excess policy” – a policy purchased for additional coverage of up to $ 2.06 million – denied the claim filed by the winery, according to court records.

In court records, the winery said it was insured for $ 10.37 million – $ 8.31 million by Beazley Insurance Services and an additional $ 2.01 million by Kinsale.

But in August, Arkansas-based Kinsale filed a federal lawsuit against Fairwinds after the winery threatened to sue, court records show.

Among other goals, Kinsale sought a court order stating that the winery “has no obligation to make any payment to Fairwinds because Kinsale’s franchise policy was not involved,” according to the federal lawsuit.

On Thursday, Fairwinds filed its own lawsuit against Kinsale and other companies associated with the surplus policy, this time in Napa County Superior Court, court records show.

“Fairwinds primary insurer has paid the limits of Fairwinds primary insurance policy, so the primary policy is now exhausted and the Kinsale franchise policy is triggered,” the winery’s attorneys said in the statement. complaint filed in Napa.

The winery’s complaint targets a court order prohibiting Kinsale from denying “blanket coverage” for the winery in the amount of $ 2.06 million, according to the winery lawsuit. Broker Malloy Imrie and Vasconi Insurance Services LLC and agent CRC Insurance Services are also named as defendants.

Also on Thursday, Fairwinds filed a petition in federal court to have Kinsale’s complaint dismissed – or at least that this case be stayed until Fairwinds’ trial in state court is resolved, according to the report. court record.

Kinsale claimed in his federal lawsuit that the total insurable value of the winery was listed at $ 4.05 million, according to the complaint.

The company refused to pay the winery’s claim after the winery’s primary insurance policy paid $ 8.31 million, according to the federal complaint. It was “well above the total insurable value for the main cellar building and tasting room,” Kinsale said in his August complaint in Northern California US District Court.

The winery had listed the winery building at $ 1.8 million; the company at $ 1.5 million; outdoor equipment at $ 100,000; the tasting room at $ 1.02 million and the company’s personal property at $ 100,000, the insurance company said in its complaint.

The fire roared in the cellar property on the night of September 27, 2020.

The main winery building on the Silverado Trail housed storage and fermentation tanks like wine barrels and a bottling line, offices, and other facilities. A new optical sorter was also lost, Zabit said.

Zabit praised the support of the wine industry after the fire, noting that employees were able to crush 200 tons of fruit at St. Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery just five days after the main facilities were destroyed by the fire.

The winery, which now has a warehouse in Calistoga, where it now operates, is now in the midst of a crisis.


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