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Wine ‘Storage War’ winds down

Posted: May 2, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 2, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Wine lovers storing their treasured cargo at Lee’s Wine Storage in Santa Clarita have until May 6 at the latest to claim any wine or property stored at the location – or lose it, according to the property owner.

Customers renting storage lockers located at 26340 Diamond Place, Unit 110, were alerted by the property owner, CanAm Holdings LLC, on April 18 that Lee’s Wine Storage had been evicted as a tenant.

Lee’s Wine Storage is operated by Yoon Lee, owner of Lee’s Wine Bistro on Town Center Drive.

CanAm Manager, Jay Schutz, told customers in a letter “any wine and other property you have been storing at the Storage Facility must be promptly removed. The business is no longer in operation and all wine lockers and contents are being removed.”

If wine customers fail to pick up their property, it will be considered abandoned under California law and will be sold at a public auction.

The notice that Lee was being evicted from the building went public when it was posted online by Eve Bushman of Eve’s Wine 101. Bushman said she was concerned that some customers might be on vacation and wanted to make sure that the word got out so no one would lose their wine.

Two customers confirmed they received the letter via email.

Carl Kanowsky moved 90 percent of his wine out immediately and, as of last week, was in the process of finding room for his remaining bottles of wine, he said.

Upon receiving the notice, customer Dr. Ronald Cappi said he immediately went over to Lee’s Wine Storage to ensure that the storage center was still operating properly and that the electricity was still on to protect his wine until he moved it out. Cappi then spent his lunch time over a period of two days last week moving all of his property out, he said.

But, Cappi was concerned that he never heard anything from the business owner Lee – who charges his credit card every month for the right to store wine there.

“He should have at least told the locker owners,” Cappi said. “I didn’t hear anything from Lee.”

It hasn’t even been a year since Yoon Lee began leasing the wine storage center from CanAm. He opened the business under his name June 1, 2013.

But, a dispute has since arisen between the two, Lee said.

While Schutz would not comment for the story, Lee said the disagreement was not over rent. According to Lee, he has been asking for a separate electrical meter for the unit that he leased. All three units at the building were on only one power meter, he said.

Schutz reportedly returned Lee’s rent check back, saying CanAm was no longer accepting them because he wouldn’t pay the power bill, Lee said.

When asked why Lee didn’t notify his own customers, he said. The locks on the storage facility were changed when he was evicted and as a result he couldn’t get into to retrieve his customer list from the files.

How CanAm had a copy of the customer list and was able to notify them was unknown as Schutz did not respond to requests for a comment.

Customers storing their wine at Lee’s Wine Storage were referred to the Storage Center of Valencia on Bouquet

Canyon Road as an alternative storage site, by Schutz in a letter. The manager there said she has had a lot of customers transfer their wine over to the Saugus facility.


Lotus8: Posted: May 7, 2014 9:31 a.m.

The fact that Mr. Lee would not have had a customer listing on a computer is mind boggling in this day and age. He obviously had a list of customer credit card information to be charging them monthly. Sounds like Mr. Lee tried to play hard ball after getting a certain volume of business and struck out. Then he doesn't make an effort to alert his customers who have a valuable, perishable product that could be roasting in the heat if the electricity is turned off? Good luck getting any of these folks to come out to your restaurant again. Pissing off serious wine folks when you own a wine themed restaurant in town, all over an electricity bill skirmish at a storage facility, sounds like a questionable business decision sir.

tpaul: Posted: May 7, 2014 4:33 p.m.

Can't we keep our wine at home ? I don't get it.
I guess if people will pay , someone will open a new wine storage place...wait, hold on , i'll be right back

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