A Celebrity Wine Expert Was Just Accused Of Arson. Here's What We Know So Far

Caleb Ganzer is a celebrity wine expert that was named Food & Wine's 2017 Sommelier of the Year for his work at the New York City wine bar, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (via Daily Journal). On Wednesday, July 28, New York City fire officials announced that Ganzer had been arrested and charged with two counts of felony arson, among other crimes in connection with three fires that appear to have been intentionally set in Manhattan over the first seven months of 2021 (via New York Times). 

The first fire occurred at the outdoor dining shed at the Lower East Side restaurant, Forsythia, at around midnight in January. The second occurred at the Lower East Side's Prince Street Pizza, in the early morning hours of July 13. Both of these fires caused damage to the outdoor dining structures, but no one was injured. The third fire, for which Ganzer is a suspect but has not been arrested, occurred on June 26 at the SoHo intersection of Broome and Centre streets (via Today).

There is video footage of the crimes being committed

Ganzer has been implicated in three suspicious Manhattan fires through security footage. After the sommelier's arrest for the fire in July at Prince Street Pizza, investigators realized there might be a connection between that fire and the others, according to a statement from the FDNY (via Today). Ganzer was arrested for the Forsythia fire after security footage emerged showing a man attempting to commit arson. The third fire at Broome and Centre Streets, is still under investigation. 

While it looks bad for Ganzer, the rule of law throughout the U.S. is that one who stands accused is presumed innocent, until his guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It is therefore impossible to say at this point in the judicial process, before a trial has begun, whether or not Ganzer will ultimately be held criminally responsible. Even if the wine expert is positively identified as the man in the video, his apparent guilt could still be mitigated by other factors during trial. What is known for now, however, is that Ganzer has been put on leave by Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, and his Instagram account has been disabled, as has his Twitter account.