California investigators have recovered $300,000 worth of wine stolen from French Laundry, the famed Napa Valley restaurant of chef Thomas Keller. Police retrieved more than 70 premium bottles this week following a monthlong, cross-country search for the missing loot, according to media reports.
The Napa County Sheriff’s Office said three detectives flew to Greensboro, N.C., on Monday and recovered all but four of the 76 bottles taken during a Christmas Day break-in at the Michelin-starred French eatery. Authorities took the wine from someone in Greensboro that “we are categorizing as an unwitting and unsuspecting buyer,” Capt. Doug Pike told the Wall Street Journal.
He said investigators returned to California with the wine Wednesday night, and no arrests have been made. The sheriff’s office is collaborating with state and federal law enforcement officials to crack the case of the stolen wine, which was reported missing Dec. 26, Pike told reporters.
The haul included dozens of bottles of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, considered among the best wines in the world. The French Laundry charges $5,750 for a 1988 vintage from the Richebourg vineyard, according to the Napa Valley Register newspaper. Some of the other bottles are valued at more than $15,000 each.
The still-unidentified wine capers might have intended to sell the hijacked bottles to a collector or small store that wouldn’t check for stolen goods as closely as larger outlets, complicating efforts to recover the wine, WSJ noted.
A French Laundry spokesperson declined to speak to reporters, deferring comment to Napa County sheriff’s investigators.
A similar wine robbery took place in January 2014 at the Napa Valley restaurant REDD. One or multiple suspects broke in during the restaurant’s annual holiday closure and ran off with 24 bottles, together worth $30,000, the Napa Valley Register noted. No bottles from that case have been recovered and no arrests have been made, Pike said.