How to save rare fine wine from a hurricane

One big bottle saved from peril.

Extracting 1500 bottles of fine wine from the ravages of a hurricane is an intense operation requiring precision, expertise, quick thinking and military-style execution — and it’s just what the Xpeditr ream pulled off last month as Hurricane Ian bore down on the coast of Naples, Florida.

Carrying winds of 155 mph, 15-foot storm surges and 30 inches of rain, Ian blasted the coast on Wednesday, Sept. 28, causing panic and widespread destruction.

When power went out Friday night, Xpeditr received a distress call from a resident. A high-value collection of fine wines was put into immediate peril. With no power for the cooling units, this collection would be irreversibly compromised.

It was Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that inspired the Xpeditr Emergency Response Team to put in place the procedures and resources they would need when — inevitably — a future disaster would occur.

“Trouble never sends a warning,” says Xpeditr CEO Adam Gungle.

The Xpeditr team now maintains a supply of all materials that might be needed in an emergency situation, such as packing materials and boxes, generators, battery power and fuel.

Read: 5 emergency tips to prepare for the next natural disaster

After receiving the call on Friday night, the entire team went into emergency mode. The Tampa crew was briefed that same night and began preparing for the extraction operation, which would begin early Saturday morning.


The crew faced challenges navigating flooded roads and detours as local residents were fleeing the area. An added challenge: diesel fuel was almost unobtainable. But the team was prepared. Valuable time was lost merely accessing the site, which they did not reach until just before nightfall. They lit up the condo’s wine storage area with emergency lighting and backup power — and they set to work. That night, they packed up half the collection. They moved the rest to a nearby hotel to finish the rest of the packing Sunday morning. By early afternoon, all 1500 bottles were secure in Xpeditr’s refrigerator controlled truck, resting at their ideal storage temperature of  55°F. This included several over-sized bottles, as well.

The wine was transferred to the warehouse in Tampa, where the team stacked and wrapped the wine onto three pallets for secure long-term storage. The client was informed — and relieved to hear — that the collection was safe and secure.

Fine wine on a shelf. Emergency preparedness is just one of the vital services that Xpeditr provides its clients. In the fall of 2017, when Hurricane Irma savaged Florida and Louisiana, Xpeditr CEO Adam Gungle told the Reuters news service: “The wrath of a hurricane can ruin delicate pieces of liquid history. Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and Sandy ruined tens of millions of dollars worth of fine wine.” As he noted, some of these wines made it through World War Two.

Read: Be prepared this hurricane season

With hurricanes and threats from other natural disasters, it’s a matter of “when” and not “if” — especially in high-risk locations. The Xpeditr blog has advice for clients on how to prepare for such disasters, including:

Be proactive: Ensure you have essential and emergency items and equipment, including flashlights, waterproof extension cords, and at least one portable generator.

Take inventory: A thorough, user-friendly catalogue is vital, and must be updated regularly and kept in the cloud. (This is a service we can provide.)

Insure your collection: Make sure your entire wine collection is covered, as this is not always the case with general policies. Xpeditr wine insurance offers extended coverage that addresses the unique forms of damage a wine collection can face during storage and transportation.

Consider an off-site solution: If a disaster is imminent, the safest option may be to relocate your collection away from the path of destruction.

The Xpeditr team is ready to help you protect and preserve your wine collection. Contact us to arrange a consultation — we’re happy to answer any questions about your wine storage or transportation needs.