Insurance inspections &

Nationwide Services for Wine Collectors and Professionals Who Support Them

Unmatched Qualifications • Authoritative Results • Distinctive Service


Expert Appraisals. Unqualified Assurance.

Combining their respective talents to provide the best services possible to wine collectors and the professionals who work with them, NEIL KAPLAN, ESQ., DipWSET, the Managing Partner of Cork Counsel, and CHARLES CURTIS MW, the Founder of WineAlpha, have formed a New York–based strategic alliance. Specializing in appraisals, inspections, brokerage and relocation of wine collections, Neil and Charles offer a full array of wine-related services for collectors, the insurance industry and attorneys.

Jointly, Neil and Charles possess unparalleled qualifications. Charles is a Master of Wine (MW)—the highest certification of expertise and knowledge in the wine industry, and Neil has earned his Level 4 Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is a candidate for the Master of Wine. Both Neil and Charles are Appraisers Association of America certified wine appraisers, with Charles having been Head of Wine for Christie’s in the Americas and Asia and Neil being an attorney and wine industry specialist.

Neil and Charles will employ their unique and complementary expertise to secure your satisfaction, wherever you are located. Using their combined talents they can guarantee you impeccable service, efficient work and results that are authoritative, irrefutable and will stand up to scrutiny.



(201) 256-0074


387 York St., Suite 1
Jersey City, NJ 07302




CHARLES CURTIS of WineAlpha has unparalleled qualifications. He is:

  • A Master of Wine

  • An Appraisers Association of America certified wine appraiser

  • A published author

  • A member of the board of the Institute of Masters of Wine.

So why does this matter? Because without expertise a wine appraisal lacks accuracy, and without certification it lacks authority. With a certified wine and appraisal expert you are guaranteed a wine appraisal that stands up to scrutiny. Charles has been called to testify in court proceedings regarding his wine appraisals, and none has ever been rejected. 

Charles is also fully expert as a wine broker. He was for many years Head of Wine for Christie’s in both Asia and the Americas, during which tenure he acquired intimate knowledge of the collectible wine market. He continues to hone his expertise:

  • Monitoring and documenting trade in fine and rare wine

  • Remaining up to date on market conditions

  • Identifying the most effective wines to sell at a given moment.

Charles knows where and how to maximize your return when brokering and selling fine and rare wines, as he has been doing for an international portfolio of private clients since leaving Christie’s in 2012.


NEIL KAPLAN of Cork Counsel also possesses unique qualifications.

  • He has earned the Level 4 Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is a candidate for the Master of Wine.

  • He is an Appraisers Association of America certified wine appraiser.

  • He practiced for six years as an attorney in New York City.

Neil combines wine and appraisal expertise with a lawyer’s acumen. Bringing legal analysis to every project, Neil can anticipate difficult situations and help avoid future problems.

Moreover, Neil has learned and understands first and foremost that service and communication are the essence of any business. During all phases of each relationship, from the initial consultation through the final report, Neil is listening to your individual needs and objectives. He will:

  • Design each deal accordingly

  • Maintain effective communication

  • Provide appropriate updates.

Between Cork Counsel and WineAlpha you are in special hands. Working with a team of two certified wine experts, two certified wine appraisers, an attorney and an auction specialist, you can be confident of receiving superior and timely work, distinctive service, and an authoritative final product.

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Wine Appraisals

There are numerous situations where you need to know the value of a wine collection or a wine cellar has to be appraised. Should you find yourself in one of those situations Cork Counsel, in conjunction with Charles Curtis MW of WineAlpha, can appraise your wine and provide a meticulous report of unimpeachable quality. The Cork Counsel/WineAlpha alliance—being the only team comprised of a Master of Wine, a candidate for the Master of Wine, two American Appraisers Association certified wine appraisers and an attorney—possesses an unparalleled level of wine expertise, appraisal credentials and certifications.

Cork Counsel/WineAlpha can guarantee singular service and an authoritative wine appraisal that will stand up to scrutiny.

Whether you are an agent or underwriter working on risk management or a claim, or a wine collector seeking insurance, Cork Counsel can inspect, inventory and appraise a wine collection. Wine is generally not covered by a homeowner’s policy, and obtaining an appraisal and insurance could avoid problems before they happen. In the unfortunate event of damage to a collection Cork Counsel can appraise the wine and determine the extent and value of the loss.

A wine collection can represent a significant marital asset. To ensure that this asset is fairly treated in the property settlement it could be advisable to have it professionally appraised. Cork Counsel is available for consultation to review the situation, identify the parties’ unique needs and help determine the most prudent course of action.

Whether for estate planning or during the administration of an estate, the value of a wine collection must be accurately established to ensure fair treatment of the heirs and satisfy the relevant tax authorities. Cork Counsel can work with attorneys and their clients to avoid errors that could complicate planning and probate.

For the protection of creditors and to help the person filing best satisfy obligations, a wine collection should be appraised during bankruptcy proceedings. A wine collection can be a significant asset and should not be overlooked, but the appraisal needs to be authoritative and capable of withstanding challenge and scrutiny.

The IRS has stringent demands for documenting wine-based charitable donations. Cork Counsel provides the USPAP compliant appraisals required by the IRS and can help avoid disallowance of your tax deduction.


Wine requires particular storage conditions to preserve its quality and value. Fluctuations or extremes in temperature, humidity levels, and exposure to water and light can all impact not only the cosmetic condition of the wine but also the integrity of the wine within the bottle. In the event of possible damage to a wine collection, be it from a problem with storage conditions or an adverse event, there may be an insurance claim related to the collection. Cork Counsel can work with the wine owner, the insurance agent or the underwriter to inspect the wine and assess its condition. Having done this, we can then determine the degree to which the wine has been damaged and the ultimate loss of value.


Both buyers and sellers of wine can benefit from expert advice. For instance, when you choose to liquidate any or all of your wine cellar you want to make sure you are maximizing the collection’s financial potential. This involves:

  • Determining which of your wines to sell

  • Where to sell them

  • When to sell.

Similarly, when you acquire wine you may want to purchase not only wines you enjoy drinking but ones that can also be strong investments.

All of these considerations can vary dramatically depending on the particular time and market conditions. You need, therefore, guidance from someone expert not only in wine but also in the wine investment, auction and retail markets.

The Cork Counsel/WineAlpha team possesses such qualifications and has unmatched expertise. Charles was the Head of Wine for Christie’s in Asia and the Americas, and Neil has decades of commercial experience with fine and rare wine. In addition, we hold high level wine credentials, with Charles being a Master of Wine and Neil being a WSET Level 4 Diploma Graduate and candidate for the Master of Wine.

Our team will use this expertise and experience to optimize the sale or purchase of your wine. After thorough consultation we will:

  • Review your portfolio and objectives

  • Create for you an individualized proposal

  • Help you determine the most effective time, place and selection of wines to buy or sell

  • Source wines, solicit offers and obtain best price.

With the Cork Counsel/WineAlpha team as your wine broker and consultant, we can ensure that you will receive personal attention and maximize effectiveness in your wine transactions.


Moving a wine collection requires special care. Your wine is valuable and should be entrusted only to professionals who are equipped for and capable of dealing with it. Cork Counsel works with a network of wine freight specialists who ship exclusively under temperature control and will guarantee safe arrival of your wine. Next, we can create an inventory of your collection or update an existing one so that both you and the freight carrier have an exact count of your wines. During the moving process we will supervise the packing, identifying and recording which wines are in which boxes so you can easily locate them upon delivery. Lastly, should you so desire, we can be present for receiving and unpacking to make certain everything is done to your satisfaction from beginning to end. Moving is stressful enough. Let us worry about your wine.


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