About Us

Chai Consulting is the most trusted name in private wine collection management in the world. Founded by renowned wine expert, Maureen Downey, in 2005, Chai Consulting has built, liquidated and currently curates several of the most impressive wine collections in the world.

Whether you are just starting a collection, need to liquidate or thin out excess inventory, or have amassed a collection that has become a job, the expert team at Chai Consulting works with you to determine the best services and path based on your individual needs and goals.

Chai Consulting’s bespoke services offer enthusiasts and collectors the world over the security of authentic purchases and holdings, up-to-date inventories and unparalleled sales results.

Founder, world-renowned expert Maureen Downey has been heralded as “The Sherlock Homes of Wine” and one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Wine.”

Chai Consulting services include:

• Liquidation of collections and excess inventory
• Sourcing & purchasing
• Appraisals
• Authentication
• Chai Vault certification for authentic bottles
• Ongoing collection management / curation
• Cellar planning, inventory management strategies
• Inventory taking
• Organization of home cellars and storage locations
• Expert witness

Maureen Downey

Managing Member/Founder

Combatting wine fraud is part and parcel of Maureen’s appreciation of the hard work, skill and artistry that goes into creating great wine. Struck by passionate collectors’ needs for qualified advisory services with their wine collections, Maureen founded Chai Consulting in 2005 to help them focus on their individual needs and passions.

With over 20 years of in-depth wine industry experience, Maureen Downey stands out as an independent expert on fine and rare wine, and the foremost authority on counterfeit wine and has compiled the largest database on the subject in the world. Specializing in assessment, authentication and valuation, Maureen has inspected hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of wine in the course of advising the world’s top collectors, auction houses, wine merchants, restaurants and hotels.

Maureen has advised the FBI and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in a number of high-profile cases. She worked closely with the FBI on the Rudy Kurniawan case, advising them for many years in the initial investigation and in the subsequent lead up to trial. Through her comprehensive pre-sentencing reports, which the defense counsel did not contest, she was instrumental in increasing both jail time Kurniawan received and the damages apportioned to his victims. Maureen assisted and testified for Bill Koch in his successful lawsuit for fraud against Eric Greenberg. She has been the expert in numerous other cases in which her detailed and meticulous reports helped victims receive remuneration, or her work with law enforcement has resulting in successful prosecutions of wine and spirits fraudsters.

Maureen’s academic interest in wine began while she a freshman at Boston University. In her junior year, at the temder age of 20, she and the all-woman BU Wine Team won Kevin Zraly’s International Wine Competition. Shortly after graduating she received her sommelier certification, and went on to manage some of New York’s top restaurants including Lespinasse, Felidia and Tavern on the Green.

Siobhan Turner

Senior Consultant Europe
Authentication, DWS

Since early 2013, Siobhan has been working closely with Maureen Downey, in particular on authentication. She spent many hours closeted in a windowless room at the Department of Justice reviewing the physical evidence from the Rudy Kurniawan wine fraud trial, and has worked closely with Maureen on major authentication clients over the past two years.

From 2004 to 2013, Siobhan served as Executive Director of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW). In this role, she turned the Institute’s finances and operations around, grew membership by 25% and more than doubled member engagement. She is particularly proud of the increase in the international reach of the Institute, a key focus of her tenure. During this time with the IMW, Siobhan had the privilege to experience some of the world’s finest wines and connect with some of the most talented winemakers.

Originally from Canada, and now living in London, England, Siobhan is fluent in French and also speaks some Spanish. Prior to the IMW, Siobhan qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young, and then worked in investment banking and investor relations. Siobhan holds the WSET Diploma, and is currently a student on the Master of Wine program.

“Wine authentication is an art that can take many years to master. I am as impressed as I am humbled at the skill and insight Siobhan has shown after working with me to become an authentication expert in just two years. I buried her in information, and she quickly turned it into expertise at a level that I could never have expected. It is wonderful to have another wine authentication expert on our team. There is so much wine out there to remove from the market!”
-Maureen Downey, Owner/Founder Chai Consulting LLC

Chelsea Snare

Managing Director, WineFraud.com

Chelsea moved to the San Francisco Bay Area shortly after graduating from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. It is in the Bay Area that she discovered her love of wine through trips to Napa and Sonoma with her friends and family.

Chelsea comes to us with a background dedicated to customer service and project management. Following an intensive six-month post-graduate training program with AT&T, Chelsea rose quickly through the company ranks to become Sr Merchandising Manager, where she was managing a portfolio of 110 stores. Her experience will translate well in her WineFraud.com role, where she will be responsible for managing website content, contributors, and our social media marketing.

The combination of Chelsea’s keen eye for detail and design, proven abilities to be a responsive, efficient driver of projects through cross-functional teams and her mastery of website production brings a necessary, dynamic skill set to WineFraud.com. Chelsea is also an active mentor in the We Teach Science program, where she has been contributing her guidance since 2009, and was the Director of Mentoring Circles, Women of AT&T, while she was with the company.

In her free time, Chelsea enjoys running, knitting, and weekend wine tasting trips. “We are thrilled to have such a dynamic and multi-talented woman at the helm of the WineFraud.com website. Chelsea’s organization, eye for detail and drive to get things accomplished with an exceptionally high level of efficiency and accuracy is impressive. We are confident that her customer service experience will be a great benefit to members of WineFraud.com.”
– Maureen Downey

Hugo D’Houwt

Hugo started waiting tables as a part time job while he was studying politics. Eventually that part time job became a full time job. He began as a simple waiter and climbed one step at a time to top positions in Michelin starred restaurants.It didn’t take long for the bug to bite, being around wine all the time.

So he decided to start learning more and take classes. Interestingly enough he found that sommelier classes in France were somewhat narrow-minded and not so open to the marvels of the New World.

He then decided to take it further and to apply for the Court of Master Sommeliers in London. Now a Certified Sommelier by the Court and studying for the Advanced exam, he runs a wine bar in Dijon, Burgundy, after 12 years of fine dining experience. He’s also eying at the IMW programme.

He stumbled upon Maureen Downey’s project at the very beginning and was one of the early believers. He’s now in the process of becoming a TCM Authenticator in order to give his contribution to solving the wine fraud problem.

When he’s not tasting or hidden behind piles of books, he runs a study group for wine students totaling near 3500 members worldwide.

Chai (fr) cave à vin, cellier. wine cellar
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