Sommelier Caleb Ganzer Reaches Agreement with District Attorney on Arson Charges

Accused of torching two outdoor dining sheds in 2021, the sommelier will pay restitution to the New York dining spots

Sommelier Caleb Ganzer Reaches Agreement with District Attorney on Arson Charges
Caleb Ganzer, left, earned a reputation as one of New York City's leading sommeliers during time at Eleven Madison, Daniel and Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels. (Evan Sung)
May 9, 2022

Nine months after being arrested and accused of arson, New York sommelier Caleb Ganzer has reached an agreement with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. New York Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley signed off on the deal April 5. Ganzer, a co-owner and managing director of popular wine bar Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, was accused of setting fire to outdoor dining structures at Forsythia restaurant and Prince Street Pizza.

Compagnie opened in New York’s Nolita neighborhood in 2014, and Ganzer quickly won praise for his France-focused list of more than 1,000 wines. Before this, he had worked at several of New York’s best-known dining destinations.

On July 28, 2021, the New York Fire Department announced Ganzer’s arrest, releasing surveillance footage of a man, alleged to be Ganzer, using a lighter to set fires outside of Prince Street Pizza.

Per the agreement with the DA, Ganzer must pay $3,050 to Forsythia and $2,250 to Prince Street Pizza. As part of an alternative-to-incarceration program, he will also participate in a treatment plan arranged by the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), a justice reform organization, and is subject to monitoring for a minimum of 15 months, until July 5, 2023.

During this time, he must be present at all court appearances, submit to random drug testing, complete training recommended by CCI and secure employment or alternative means of support. If Ganzer fulfills these requirements, and several others, the DA’s office will ask the court to dismiss the charges of arson in the third and fifth degrees.

“Mr. Ganzer understands the seriousness of his actions and is deeply sorry for the pain and suffering he caused these individuals and their businesses,” said Ganzer’s attorney, Thomas Rotko, in a statement sent to Wine Spectator. “He accepts personal responsibility and is fully committed to his ongoing sobriety and mental health recovery.”

After his arrest, Ganzer took a leave of absence from his restaurant. This is still the case, a spokesperson for Compagnie confirmed in a statement emailed to Wine Spectator. “We are aware of Mr. Ganzer's situation. He remains on a leave of absence.”


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