Napa County sheriff’s authorities said Friday that $300,000 of some of the world’s finest wine stolen from the renowned French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley ended up in the hands of an unsuspecting buyer.
Investigators at this point don’t believe that the individual who had the wine in Greensboro, N.C., knew the bottles were stolen, Capt. Doug Pike said.
Yet Pike stopped short of saying that the person was cooperating with authorities. He declined to comment on whether investigators were getting any helpful information from the individual that might help them track down who broke into the restaurant and who sold the wine.
No arrests have been reported.
A representative with the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group said Friday that the company would not comment on the wine’s recovery.
The wine was stolen during a Christmas Day break-in at the Yountville restaurant. The thieves had suspiciously impeccable timing because the burglary took place while the restaurant was undergoing renovation and a cellar alarm was not activated.
The thieves also appeared to have enough information to know what to grab among the restaurant cellar’s offerings.
The estimated 76 stolen bottles included wine from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, one of the most prestigious producers in the world, and several bottles from Screaming Eagle, the high-priced Oakville winery.
A single bottle from the French producer DRC can retail for as much as $10,000 and appreciate roughly 20 percent per year in storage, according to DRC’s exclusive U.S. importer.
On Friday, 72 bottles of the wine were back in the Napa Valley in the custody of the Sheriff’s Office. The remaining bottles have not been recovered.
Pike said that detectives flew to Grensboro on Monday and confirmed through serial numbers on each bottle that it was the stolen wine. They returned late Wednesday.
They were working with federal and state agents to determine how the wine was shipped across the country, Pike said.
You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jjpressdem.