PHILADELPHIA – Christina Turley’s father, Larry, produces California wine from vines that date back to the late 1800s. Though they’re sought by collectors, several bottles may be dumped down a Philadelphia sink.
Pennsylvania plans to destroy 2,447 bottles seized from Arthur Goldman, a Philadelphia-area lawyer who was charged this year with illegally reselling wine. While he has agreed to penalties, he’s fighting the jettisoning of his collection, which encompasses small-batch bottles from such California producers as Turley Wine Cellars, Martinelli Winery and Kistler Vineyards.
For the authorities, destruction is the natural culmination of the case. For Christina Turley and Regina Martinelli, a fifth-generation winemaker, it would waste the result of years of devotion and passion.
“It represents a huge amount of work, a huge amount of effort and affection,” said Turley, sales and marketing director at Turley Wine Cellars. “We see these wines as extensions of ourselves. It would be a shame to see them poured down the drain.”
A hearing on whether to destroy the wine may be scheduled after Goldman files his argument within 30 days, according to the state attorney general’s office, which handles forfeiture.
Pennsylvania’s liquor code mandates only two options for illegal alcohol: destruction or donation to a hospital.
“Normally it would be either dumped or destroyed,” said State Police Capt. Troy Lokhaiser, director of the state police’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. After a court order, most seized alcohol goes down the sink, he said.
The bottles, which include a 2011 Williams Selyem Drake Estate Vineyard chardonnay, are being stored in a Philadelphia evidence room that may be a few degrees cooler than a typical office, he said.
In Pennsylvania, residents must purchase wine and spirits from state stores or in-state wineries.
State police said that Goldman, 50, sold wine out of his home in Malvern, about 25 miles west of Philadelphia. He sent an undercover agent a 97-page e-mail of wines available for purchase, most of which weren’t available in the state. Goldman at one point showed two officers his basement, where they saw 90 boxes of wine.
Goldman was charged in January with buying alcohol outside the state system and selling liquor without a license, and in August agreed to accept the penalties under a first-time offender program.