A Collector’s New Year’s Resolution–Get My Cellar In Shape!

As we begin 2015, it’s normally time to see where we can be a little more disciplined in our lives and make some good ‘ol New Year’s Resolutions. For wine collectors the Fall Release and Holiday Seasons can be a time for indulgence, to let things go unattended, including your home cellar situation.

And for collectors who are still acquiring wines, they can easily have their cellar get out of hand in a few active months during this time of year. The end result can be a cellar that is a complete mess—full of boxes of gods-know-what allocation or wine club shipments stacked up to the ceiling. It’s time to make that New Years Resolution to get your cellar back into working mode, but we know to make a New Year’s resolution truly work it’s normally a two step process of doing the necessary work to get to your goal, but often more importantly is to have a strategy of how to stick to that plan to accomplish that goal for the entire year.

In wine collector terms, the questions to ask:

  1. How do I get my cellar in shape? And,
  2. Almost more importantly how do I keep it in shape?

Step One: Get It In Shape

Get A Fresh Inventory

If you don’t already have an inventory of your collection, get one. It’s worth it in the long run. If not you’ll spend hours of your valuable time digging through boxes in your cellar, searching double deep racking for that one bottle that goes well with the roast that is currently in the oven. A new, fresh inventory will provide a foundation to work from and will give you the confidence that you know exactly what you have and where it is in your cellar. There are many ways to accomplish that goal; depending on how much time and how detailed you’d like to be.   For the do-it-yourselfers out there, there are simple, free, web-based cellar management programs to enter your wines into—we’re of course partial to VinCellar. (www.vincellar.com ) If you’d like to have it done by an expert there are many folks that will come to your house to provide you with an accurate inventory, including Vinfolio. (www.vinfolio.com/about/services )

If you’ve already got a working inventory—great! Now it’s just a matter of filling in the missing pieces of the last few months, which means gather your receipts and picking slips to add to your cellar and note any wines that have been consumed during the holidays—hopefully a few great ones! If the last part is a little foggy, we recommend a simple barcoding system where consumed wines can either be easily scanned out via a smartphone or tablet or simply affixed to a ‘deletion sheet’ to decrement at a later time when it’s more convenient. Again barcoding your wines can be easily accomplished by DIY collectors through VinCellar, or can be executed during a home inventorying project by our wine expert professionals.

De-Clutter

Once you understand what you have, now you can make some smart choices of how you’d like to de-clutter your cellar. In evaluating your cellar space and its finite capacity it’s best to ask the simple, but important questions regarding your cellar:

Which wines am I drinking and enjoying right now? Whatever they are, include some alternative vineyards, producer or vertical vintages of the same wine so you can always compare and contrast how each is performing.

What current vintages of each style and/or varietal of wine am I pulling from? Again, keep a good buffer of plus or minus a few years of each in case some begin to turn downhill on you. Besides, what collector doesn’t love a good mini vertical tasting now and again?

With answers in hand from each of those questions you’ll narrow down the verdict on the overwhelming majority wines that currently deserve space in your cellar and which wines can be given a new temporary home at an offsite wine storage facility.

Step Two: Keep It In Shape

As we know with many resolutions, many seem to fade over the first few months as will power dwindles along with it. Here are some simple points to help you stick with your plan of keeping your cellar in shape throughout the year:

Leave The Heavy Lifting (Literally) To Someone Else

Leave your foyer to greeting your guests and not as a dumping ground for your most recent UPS wine deliveries. Find a wine storage provider that can properly receive your wine shipments from wine transport companies and common carriers. This will alleviate the pressure of the mounting boxes in your foyer or cellar that seems to arrive on an ongoing basis from wineries and wine clubs.

Additional Tip: To provide the same convenience as having the wines inside your home find a storage provider that can not only receive your wines but one that provides direct shipping services and can act as an extension of your home cellar and doesn’t require extra effort to make an added trip to a wine storage facility in order to pull that special bottle for the weekend. (Vinfolio does this for its storage clients who live all over the world. For more info contact us at storage@vinfolio.com )

Get All Vendors On Board With The New Program

Once you have your wine storage provider of choice lined up, it’s now the perfect time to get all your Vendors on the same page as to the new location of where they should be sending future shipments. And by vendors that means anyone you regularly buy wine from, including:

  • Wineries
  • Wine Clubs
  • Online Fine Wine Retailers
  • Wine Shops
  • Wine Brokers
  • Importers
  • Distributors

Depending on how many vendors you have this could take takes a little bit of work and a handful of phone calls, but is a key component to help keep your home cellar is pristine shape. If this step isn’t taken you’ll be back to square one before you know it..

Maintain Peace and Order In The Home

Undoubtedly you will have wines that somehow makes it through your cellar door, whether they’re gifts, shipments sent from your storage provider and never drunk or even ad hoc purchases from your local wine merchant.

Easy strategies to maintain your cellar from ongoing issues:

  • Save invoices! These are an excellent source for reconciliation and when adding wines to your current inventory
  • Save a section for ‘un-inventoried wine’, in your cellar
  • Monthly Barcode Tally: Save those bottle barcodes and periodically (weekly/monthly) delete those from your inventory.
  • If all else fails, call Vinfolio and we’re happy to come out and help!
Don’t Let Small Slips-Ups Get You Discouraged!

As 2015 goes on, the likelihood of letting things go for weeks at a time from an inventory and organizational perspective are bound to happen, it is human nature. Don’t get discouraged and understand that it can happen to the most diligent of collectors.   The key is to rely on the tips above to get you back on track and to not let a few slip-ups keep you from your ultimate goal—keeping your cellar in shape in 2015.

At Vinfolio, we help our clients buy, sell, store, and manage their most treasured bottles of wine. But in our spare time, we’re just a group of passionate and slightly obsessed oenophiles--we love sharing a great glass of vintage Champagne, followed by a Burgundy, and then a Bordeaux, to get things started. We’re always obsessing over the latest (and oldest) vintages, and we want to share that knowledge and passion with our readers.