Over the past decade or so, I’ve noticed more collectors turning to professional wine storage than ever before. That’s because the internet age has made this kind of storage convenient for collectors of all experience levels. In the past, most of my wine-loving friends would rather spend thousands of dollars on a home wine cellar, since it used to be a hassle shipping wine to and from a storage warehouse. Now that most everything is done online, a good portion of those friends have made the switch to professional storage; they can see all of their bottles online with the click of a button, and they no longer have to fuss with their cellar’s air conditioning. I recommend every collector use professional wine storage for their most-prized bottles.
What Is Professional Wine Storage?
Before you store your wine with a third party, be aware that there are two kinds of off-site storage options for collectors: self-service and full-service. With self-service, collectors rent out a locker space for their bottles, and they’re in charge of shipping and organizing the bottles inside of the space. It’s what professional storage used to be before the advent of the internet. By contrast, full-service professional wine storage offers collectors more options, such as authentication, safer shipping methods, access to bottle information online via the client’s account or a wine app, and built-in organization. These amenities are included in the price of storage, and collectors pay an annual, biannual, or quarterly fee to the warehouse. That fee usually depends on the size of the collection–the more bottles you decide to store with most warehouses, the better storage price you’ll typically get per bottle.
Professional Wine Storage Tracks Provenance
The number one reason you should consider storing your wine professionally is that it has the potential to increase the worth of your bottles significantly. Collectors find that their bottles increase in value by anywhere from 50 to 100 percent when they include proof of provenance in their sale. Let’s say you have a bottle of Sine Qua Non Grenache that’s worth about $1,000. This winery makes a limited number of bottles every year, so fraud is a common problem. If you try to sell this bottle straight from your cellar without proof of provenance, you’ll be lucky to get its full worth, however, if you sell it with proof of professional storage, you might net as much as $500 more for that bottle because you can prove a clear line of ownership straight from the winery to the warehouse. Going straight from a bonded sale to a professional warehouse will increase the worth even more, and that $1,000 bottle could easily become a $2,000 bottle. This price increase also has to do with the fact that buyers tend to be more confident that the bottles they’re buying are unspoiled when they know they’ve been professionally stored.
It’s not as easy to prove authenticity and provenance when you store your bottles at home, since your buyer can’t see your storage conditions and verify that they’re safe. Professional wine storage warehouses hire experts ranging from former winemakers to cellar contractors, with years of experience in the wine world to give advice on the best storage temperatures, wine racks, and vibration-proof seals. In addition, some of the best warehouses hire experts to inspect the bottles to check for fraud. These experts look carefully at the labels and seals, comparing them to bottles that come straight from the winery. All of these methods give your future buyers ease of mind, and many are willing to spend more for this privilege.
Look for These Safety Qualities
Not all warehouses are created equal. Store your bottles with warehouses that age bottles under the following conditions:
- Temperature: all bottles should be stored between 50 and 55 degrees
- Humidity: this should be between 65 and 70 percent
- Vibration: every bottle should have padding around it and the building should be earthquake-proof
- Lighting: the warehouse should either remain dark, or keep bottles in light-proof containers
- Organization: every bottle should have a barcode that allows you and the warehouse to keep track of each bottle you own
- Shipping: the warehouse should hold off on shipments during the hottest or coldest months of the year, and only ship wine in temperature-controlled containers
When you find a warehouse that fits within your storage budget, ask them about all six of the safety precautions above. If even one aspect isn’t up to snuff, go with another warehouse. It’s often worth paying slightly more per year on storage if it means keeping your bottles safe. The good news is that most full-service warehouses take these safety issues seriously, making them superior to self-service lockers (that only provide you with empty space). In addition, letting the experts handle the technical details of wine storage frees up your time. Rather than spending an afternoon reorganizing your cellar or fixing a broken air conditioner, you could be shopping for more bottles, selling your wine for a profit, or just enjoying a great wine. When it comes to collecting, time is valuable, and full-service warehouses give you more time to spend doing what you love about collecting.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s best wine.
Photo Courtesy of Vinfolio
Harley is an Executive Wine Specialist for Vinfolio, helping collectors find the best wines for their collection. He’s a lover of everything outdoors and the proper bottles to go along with it. You can find him at any of the newest cocktail bars and restaurants in SF or on an adventure somewhere in between Lake Tahoe and the California coastline.