Wine Appraisal Expert Helps California Wildfire Victims and Wineries Recover Losses

The Winery & Wine Appraisals company, and senior wine appraisal expert Tom DiNardo, has helped hundreds of people, insurance companies, independent adjusters, and law firms assist the California Wildfires victims in recovering their monetary losses resulting from forest fires and wildfire damages that occurred in California over the last few years. Their invaluable work has helped these claimants and insureds to swiftly get back on track in rebuilding their lives.

Over the last several years California has suffered many catastrophic wildfires. The resulting damages created billions of dollars paid out to compensate wildfire victim’s through their insurance company fire loss claims. In 2017 there were a total of eighteen wildfires that occurred between Napa and Sonoma Counties alone. Seventeen of the fires that occurred in those two counties were attributed directly to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) company negligence which resulted in approximately nine billion dollars in property damage claims currently in litigation. In 2018 Southern California suffered the “Goleta Fire” and also the “Woolsey Fire” in Malibu which resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in property damages paid to claimants through loss claims made through their homeowner’s insurance policies. Northern California experienced the worst wildfire disaster in history known as “The Campfire” which leveled the town of Paradise, California (Butte County), killing 85 people, and creating over fifteen billion dollars in property damages. The cause of the Camp Fire was also attributed to PG&E company negligence. Many states, including several federal government agencies, are now admitting, “We no longer have a fire season, but a fire danger period that lasts throughout the year (i.e. the fire year)”.

Tom DiNardo is the owner and senior wine appraiser of Winery & Wine Appraisals. He is acutely aware of this reality of what is now known as the “fire year” rather than the fire season. Tom was a US Forest Service seasonal wildland firefighter in the mid-1980’s while attending college in California. Tom firmly states, “It was a dangerous job back then, and it has become even more so today”. After a brief career as a natural resources law enforcement officer, Tom DiNardo started his spirits & wine appraisal and auction companies in 1993. “I probably understand the damage caused by forest fires and wildfires better than most people. My company has stepped forward in assisting not only California wildfires victims, but also assisting wildfire victims located in other states. I truly empathize and absolutely comprehend their indescribable grief, unfathomable losses, and the confusion they are experiencing in their efforts to rebuild their lives” says DiNardo.

Winery & Wine Appraisals is a nationally recognized as a spirits & wine appraisal and personal property appraisalsfirm. The company’s spirits & wine appraisal expertsprovide their services to people, insurance companies, independent adjusters, banks, attorneys and law firms in providing wine appraisal services as well as consulting expert and expert witness services. For the past two years Mr. DiNardo’s company has worked with insurance companies almost exclusively on California wildfires insurance claim assignments. Winery & Wine Appraisals provides other vital services to their clients such as complete Cellar Inventories, Personal Property Inventories, Cause & Origin Reports, Scope of Damage Evaluation Reports, contract Insurance Investigators (SIU), Wine Fraud Detection, and Counterfeit Wines Identification services that his clients have truly relied upon in having their wildfires claims fairly adjusted.

As a company owner and senior spirits & wine appraisal expert, Tom DiNardo is always on the move with company work assignments, and especially recently with the California wildfires claims his company has received over the last few years. He pauses, breathes in deeply and states, “The California wildfires that have occurred over the last few years have placed a huge drain on expert resources available to assist not only the wildfire victims, but also their legal and insurance professionals who also assist these insureds and claimants in rebuilding their homes and lives. The number of wildfire insurance loss claims is growing exponentially each year”. Tom is an intense, type A+ personality who doesn’t waste time, as he works very hard, and many long hours, to complete the multiple work assignments that he jokes would take his competition much longer to complete. According to DiNardo, claimants and their insurance companies hire Winery & Wine Appraisals because of his company’s focus, background, experience and qualifications. Tom smiles and says, “Apparently, our company offers our clients far more useful services than our competitors, and we are not afraid to get our hands dirty. We have responded to disaster scenes and met with insurance company deployment teams in less than twelve hours after we have been hired”.

Tom DiNardo is incredibly busy given the rigorous demands of his company’s schedule. In his free Tom is a certified sommelier and wine educator who teaches people about wine tasting, wine education, wine collecting and oenology. He is perhaps best known for his online wine personality – The Wine Zealot.

Winery & Wine Appraisals is not just a company focused on spirts & wine appraisal. “Our company provides invaluable Residential Contents Appraisal services as well. In other words, we don’t just appraise wine & spirits, but we regularly appraise all of the damaged residential contents in the entire home after a wildfire has occurred” according to DiNardo. Tom’s company also provides his clients with winery appraisals, and both distillery appraisals, and brewery appraisals. “All of these business enterprises have suffered major losses as result of the recent California wildfires”, reports DiNardo. Over this past year Winery & Wine Appraisals has worked with many insurance companies involved in adjusting claims for the “Woolsey Fire”, and Tom DiNardo’s successful company is also working directly with law firms that are currently representing hundreds of victims who have California Wildfires loss claims. Tom states, “Going through the insurance claim’s process can be a grueling experience, but our company does everything we can to make the claimant’s recovery period as short as humanly possible. Having a good insurance company is great, but having a good attorney can also help move the process further along”.

When he was asked if the California Wildfires would create further unresolved, far-reaching, issues over the next decade, DiNardo laughs and states, “Of course, there are erosion concerns, flooding, siltation issues, and the wine industry is now experiencing the reality of ‘Smoke Taint’ which will certainly impact wineries and the wines they produce”. Over two years ago Tom DiNardo predicted, “Smoke Taint” would become a commonly known word, and today it is rapidly gaining recognition in the wine industry worldwide as a result of more prevalent wildfires. The term “smoke taint” originated and wine industry only in the last several years, and it is now used worldwide. Tom predicted back then, “Eventually wineries, viticulturists, wine makers, and grape growers will come forward in droves and make smoke taint claims, filing legal cases, as their grapes and wines will have suffered from wildfire exposure and smoke taint damage. These legitimate smoke taint claims will be litigated in a pioneering area of law practice, that before now, was not previously known to exist”.


That time has come, and Tom DiNardo now reports that he has already been contacted as a potential consulting expert witness by one New York law firm that is representing at least seven individual Northern California wineries in these new smoke taint legal cases. Tom states with authority, “There is a lot about smoke taint that we do not know and are still learning, but there is also a lot that we do know about smoke taints undesirable, damaging, effects and the negative impact it has on wine grapes and the wines produced from these damaged grape varietals. Make no mistake, that smoke taint does in fact negatively impact a wine’s bouquet and its overall flavor profile that the wine drinker experiences while drinking a glass of smoke taint damaged wine”. According to DiNardo smoke taint is not part of the healthy wines making equation involved in the mystery, alchemy, beauty, and passion involved in the art of producing great wines. Smoke taint presents new challenges for wine makers and also for those science-focused, wine industry, professionals who seek to combat the negative effects created by smoke taint.

Tom DiNardo anticipates That Winery & Wine Appraisals will become more involved in wildfire damage claim assignments over the next several years. According to Tom it’s not so much about “the fire year”, as much as it about global weather changes that negatively impact our forests and eco systems. He advises, “People who reside in wildfire prone areas need to prepare in advance if they truly wish to limit their exposure, but my company will always be there to help just in case”.

Wine Appraisal

Wine appraisal expert Tom DiNardo is a California native. He grew up in the Bay Area and has worked in the wine industry since 1987.

“I understand the damage caused by wildfires better than most people. My company has assisted not only California Wildfires victims, but also those wildfire victims residing in other states. I truly understand the indescribable grief they experience in rebuilding their lives” says DiNardo.