This Month in Your Cellar: Moving Your Wine Collection to a Warehouse One Bottle (Or Case) At a Time

moving your wine collection to a warehouse

Breaking your wine shipments into small groups every month helps you ease into professional storage. Photo Credit: MaxPixel CC user Nikon D3300

I’ve known collectors who love the idea of professional storage, but they’re too afraid to do it because they fear that if anything goes wrong during shipping, they’ll lose every bottle they own. I get it–even though a professional warehouse may be the safest place for your wine, getting a large number of bottles there takes weeks of planning, precise packing, and long trips via plane, train, or car. But what if you moved your wine collection slowly, rather than all at once? I’d argue that it’s wise to commit to moving just one bottle or case at a time. It takes the stress out of the packing process, removes some of the risk involved with moving a collection, and makes it easier to assess whether you’ve chosen a storage service that you’re interested in working with in the long term.

Why Slow Is Better

Moving your wine collection slowly helps you in three ways. First, it means that if something goes wrong during the shipment, you won’t lose every bottle you own. While this rarely happens if you choose the right method of transport, it’s possible some bottles could spoil in the summer heat, get lost during a shipment, or have their protective packaging fail. In these extreme cases, it’s better to lose just one bottle or case than to lose a whole collection.

Smaller shipments also allow you to test out professional storage without committing too quickly to the process. You might ship your bottles off to a warehouse only to discover later that you don’t like the warehouse’s customer service or storage conditions. When you ship your wine a couple bottles or cases at a time, you can ease into the process and find out what the experience is like before you go all in.

Finally, moving your wine collection slowly lets you open up more space in your home cellar while thoughtfully sorting through your wines. Even after just a few years of collecting it’s easy to end up with wide variety of wines–some might need to age for decades, some for just a year or two, some might be in the ‘drink now’ category, and others might have been gifts that you’re not interested in drinking. Slowly transferring your most valuable and longest-aging wines over to professional storage gives you peace of mind about your biggest investments, but it also helps you methodically sort through your collection and make the best decisions about which bottles to keep at home, which to store professionally, and which to sell or give away.

How to Move Your Wine Collection Slowly

Starting this month, choose at least one bottle or case that you want to store professionally. The key to success is consistency; if you decide to move three bottles to a warehouse this month, commit to moving at least three or more bottles next month. I recommend beginning with a list of wines that you think could benefit most from professional storage. Generally, these storage candidates will be rare, valuable, or age-worthy. Wait a while after putting your first few wines into professional storage to find out how you like your storage provider and to ensure they’re treating your wines well.

As for your inexpensive, young, mass-produced bottles, it’s usually not worth it to store these professionally; however, you should check with your warehouse to see if they offer convenient services like scheduled bottle deliveries. Sometimes, the extra perks are worth it, especially if you’re looking to free up space in your home.

Which Method Is Right for You?

Is it better to stick with just one or two bottles at a time, or ship entire cases? It depends on how committed you are to professional storage, and whether you have more than one case in your cellar. If you have a sizeable collection (at least 200 bottles) and you’re thinking about moving your entire collection into storage, it might be cheaper and easier to ship 12 bottles at a time each month. You’ll pay less for shipping costs than if you move just one or two bottles, and you’ll meet your end goal more quickly. And of course this is also true if you have multiple full cases of wine you’d like to put in professional storage, since you won’t want to split a case up.

The handful-of-bottles-per-month method works better for collectors who have small collections, don’t have many full cases of wine, or who aren’t yet convinced that professional storage is right for them. The downside to this method is that it might cost more in the long run for shipping, since you typically can’t get a bulk shipping discount. For many collectors, though, a small extra cost is worth it if it helps them determine whether a professional storage facility is trustworthy, whether it suits their collecting style, and if it’s something that they can commit to in the future.

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.

With over a decade of experience in the wine industry, Derek Cienfuegos serves as Director of Collector Services at Vinfolio. During his tenure at Vinfolio, he has had the good fortune to work with some of the most distinguished wine collections in the country. Trained in wine production, Derek spent many years making wines commercially for some of Sonoma’s top producers. In addition, he has designed, opened, and managed two wine bars in San Francisco.