Premier Cru sued over undelivered wine


Premier Cru, the Berkeley wine merchant with a strong online presence as well as a fancy storefront on University Ave, is (finally?) being sued for non delivery of wine futures.

People in online wine forums have been complaining about Premier Cru for a long time, over ten years if I recall correctly. When they were in Emeryville, they did have a great bargain-bin, but last time I visited in Berkeley it wasn’t there.


There is a 65 (Yup! 65!) page topic (on Wineberserkers) that has been going on about Premier Cru for a very long time. It’s had its staunch defenders and lots of critics, mostly about how long it takes to get what you order (futures take time, but PC seems excessive to lots of people, and customer service opinions vary widely). I’ve never been there or done business with them, but this latest development is coupled with more basic issues about the business itself that make things much more concerning. It’s never a good thing when a long-time business has problems, and this one’s supporters are very strong in their support, making it all the more difficult to assess.

Jason, this place is in your hood too … right?


I think that Berserkers topic began back when the Robert Parker boards were still public, before Beserkers spun itself off. I don’t know how they lasted this long.

(is there an echo in here? : )


Well… probably because the board formats are the same, I find it difficult to recall who posts where most of the time. I know Jason posts on both. I hesitated to post twice, but I have more time now that CH is so lame.


I’ve been making a point of posting in both places. CH, not so much anymore.


I’ve never stepped foot in there. I’ve been hearing rumblings for some time. I was speaking with a friend today who is awaiting a relatively small order (after a bait/switch situation) and suggested he do a credit card chargeback, as not much time has passed.

I’d expect a chapter of Title 11 to have PC’s name on it before this is done.

I just took a peek at the Alameda County recorder’s website and they’ve had a history since the 90s of various tax liens (and releases, and more liens) - the latest was an SBE lien in June, released in October.


People who are in the trade – i.e.: suppliers to Premier Cru – have been complaining about John Fox and Premier Cru since the store was located on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland back in the '80s . . . let alone on Christie Ave. in Emeryville or University Ave. in Berkeley . . . .

How Premier Cru survived three moves and all these years is one of the Great Mysteries of the Modern World…


It is. It’s about 3.5 miles from our house.

I’ve never set foot in the Berkeley store; I went to the Emeryville store once or twice as a customer, when looking for something older and rather esoteric. IIRC, I have purchased a total of ONE bottle from them in my life.

OTOH, I’ve sold them lord knows how many cases of wine over the years . . . .


Their retail store has shut. Perhaps the preacher at the church up the street will perform an exorcism. I suppose a visit to Title XI of the United States Code isn’t far off.


The Wineberserkers topic on this is now on page 109. Some people have gotten the wine owed them but not all have… obviously. The business still seems to be functioning, with wine inbound and shipping orders from stock… not that it would seem prudent to become a new customer at this point. What sticks out to me is that there a whole lot of people who spend a WHOLE lot of money on French wine.


It’s not the retail store that’s an issue. People who walk into the store, pick up a bottle, and buy it actually get to was out of the store with it, too.

The retail store has long been a VERY minor part of their business. (Remember, I sold wine to them starting back in the 1990s.) They were one of the earliest web-based wine retailers. They originally solicited sales the “old-fashioned way,” by picking up the telephone and calling clients (e.g.: I’ve got a small parcel of 1982 Château Pétrus coming in – it’s only $$$$ – how many cases do you want?"). This evolved into offerings by fax, email and then a website.

Originally, the only reason to actually go to the retail store was to pick up the wine you ordered via phone (by credit card). And with the growth in shipping came a) a more widespread geographic customer base (including overseas), and b) no reason whatsoever to actually set foot inside their store. Indeed, most days, you could fire an AK-47 (or perhaps an AR-15) with 30-round clips inside the store, reload and do it again and again, and never hit an actual customer . . .


Well, they also had a good bargain-bin/closeout section. I’d go into the Emeryville store, breeze past the increasingly sparse shelves, and there was usually a decent $10-$15 bottle in the closeouts. But a retail store can’t survive on that, and in any event they eliminated it in the move to Berkeley.


At this point, they were probably more concerned with someone pointing it at the proprietors, not any customers, and accordingly, the less chance for public direct interaction, the better for them.


Yes, well . . . my point is that – long before the scandal became public – the retail store was ALWAYS empty. It was a sideline of their business, not a main function.


Yes, I got your point :wine_glass: :stuck_out_tongue:


Jason, somewhere in the last few of those 109 pages it says that the retail store has now closed.


Yes, and my point was (and still is) that the retail store is by and large irrelevant to their business model . . . it’s all online and shipping. (Even more so than WineEx, and significantly more so than K&L.)


I would recommend reading the Berserker thread. There are a lot of people with first hand experience and long term exposure who have posted their recent experiences.

It’s not just the closing of the physical store that is the problem. The bounced checks of less than $100, the seized bank accounts showing only 9k in the account, the multimillion dollar lawsuits…the business model of sourcing current wine with 50% off futures may have finally caught up to them. Their weekly emails have stopped.

They are unlike KL because they were/are very highly leveraged in futures. See their website of 142 in stock wines vs 1k+ prearrival.

Like any business or stock, past performance does not guarantee future results.


Yes. I agree with everything you’ve said and – no offense – none of it is exactly news to me. Indeed, I’ve been waiting for this business to collapse for some 20+ years.


Seems like you sometimes think someone is challenging you when all they’re doing is stating a fact.