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Winery Worker Fired After Accidentally Spilling $213K of Wine Down a Drain

In a different incident in 2017, the same worker failed to switch the diverting valve on a tank and lost another 11,000 liters of wine.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Jan 24 2020, 12:00pm

Photo: Getty Images

Everyone has had a workday go to absolute shit, like that time you spilled half a bottle of kombucha on your boss's new MacBook, or when you belatedly learned that not everyone does the smallest bump of coke before the holiday party, or when you had to run the @MrPeanut Twitter account on the day that it announced that cursed nut's death.

Brent Crozier's shit day happened in mid-November 2018, when the now-former winery worker accidentally let 5,680 liters (1,249 gallons) of sauvignon blanc run down a floor drain.

Crozier had more than 10 years of experience with the Mission Hill Winery in West Kelowna, British Columbia, and he'd worked his way up to the role of cellarman 1. That meant that he was in charge of transferring and blending wine, as well as introducing additives into the tanks where the wine was being stored. On that November day, Crozier was tasked with moving Mission Hill Estate sauvignon blanc from one tank into another, a process that required him to flush the attached hose with water and empty the water down a drain, before switching the diverting valve and allowing the wine to safely flow into the new tank.

Crozier admittedly forgot to switch the valve, which meant that the wine went down the drain instead. By the time he realized what he'd done, 5,680 liters were gone. The wine would've been enough to fill 630 cases, and the winery estimates that they lost CAD$162,464.40 (US$213,077.20) worth of booze that day.

"I was freaking out," he said of the incident. "I could not believe I forgot to change over the valve."

One month later, Crozier was fired.

According to Global News, the local branch of the Service Employees International Union filed a grievance over his termination, and an arbitration was held. It didn't exactly help Crozier's case.

During his investigation, arbitrator Nicholas Glass learned that there had been two incidents at the winery that resulted in thousands of liters of wine disappearing down a floor drain. Crozier was responsible for both of them. In 2017, Crozier failed to switch the diverting valve on a tank and 11,000 liters of wine were lost.

"I am also struck by the magnitude of the grievor’s carelessness in 2017 and the disastrous consequences of it, which should have impressed upon him the importance of applying himself conscientiously to his duties, but which clearly had no effect because he was guilty of the same negligent misconduct with similar disastrous consequences in 2018," Glass wrote in his decision.

Glass ultimately ruled that Crozier's termination was justified, writing that in order to (twice!) forget to adjust the valve, he basically (twice!) forgot one of the most important parts of his job. "In other words, rather than carry out his duties erroneously he simply failed to carry them out at all, pursuant to what must be described as a staggering level of carelessness or negligence," he explained.

Damn, that kombucha thing doesn't seem so bad now. Honestly, neither does the cocaine thing.

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