This is the first in a two part series on selling all or part of your wine collection. This installment covers choosing the correct avenue for selling your wine. Stay tuned for our next installment as we walk through all the tips and gotchas for rebalancing your collection.
As a collector, you may have a number of bottles in your cellar that you are looking to part with. It could be that the bottles are getting late in their drink date, you have too much wine to ever drink, or your tastes have changed and you want to rebalance your collection. If you’re looking to keep to the New Year resolution of getting your cellar in shape, or perhaps it’s because you may be moving and will have less room for your wines, or reaching retirement, or would like cash for a child’s college fund, here is a guide to nudge you in the right direction for selling your collection. We are going to provide a multi step guide on the different ways you can sell parts or all of your wine collection.
Timing Is Everything
Always consider when you’re selling your wines as it is crucial to your earnings. The timing of the market will determine if you will get the best prices for your wine. If the market is down you may want to hold off on selling. Bids could be kept lower than you had anticipated and retailers may value it at a smaller fixed price. If the market is down, consider waiting until it recovers and you know when people are looking to buy again and give your wine more value. The good news is that the collectible wine market, particularly First Growths and Burgundy, has been a stable if not increasing market and so you should be able to earn a good return on the sale of your collectible wine.
It is important to consider your timetable and need for immediate cash. A more flexible schedule means you can optimize your proceeds. If you are no rush to rebalance your collection then you have more time to consider all of your options for selling and finding out who can help you earn the most for your collection. If you are in a hurry though, well we have suggestions for that too.
More on timing in Part 2…
Options For Selling
Once you are ready to sell, you’ll need to choose a partner for selling your wine. Different partners offer different pros and cons and you might have good reason to go with any or a mix of partners depending on your collection and you goals. Below we present your various options for selling your collection.
Your first option for selling part of a collection would be to auction it. Whether it be online or in-person, use an auction house that will offer the best rates while having a large buyers’ pool. Auction houses evaluate your inventory and give you an appraisal. A reserve price will be set and the bidding can begin on your collections. If it is not sold, generally it is re-offered and you may be assessed an unsold commission. Make sure you are fine with a wine selling at its reserve and if not, then explore other options or ask for a higher reserve.
When deciding who to sell your wine through, look for companies with multiple channels. You must consider the fact that parts of your collection may sell better via a gavel auction while others may sell better in an online channel. A partner that knows how to tranche out your collection and move each part through the most appropriate channel will get you the most value.
Auctioning your wine can have large benefits if you’re looking to get rid of very desirable wines. After the wine has been bid off and sold there is typically a 30 to 90 day payout period. But to get the most from the sale, there are many issues to look out for when choosing an auction house. Do some research and find one that doesn’t have outrageously high sellers fees, hidden listing fees, inbounding fees, and unsold commission fees. Also, consider transportation costs. You may have to pick these up yourself, but for a really good collection, a lot of houses will pick this up for you. All of these costs can quickly add up and take away a large sum of the sale. Compare the fees per auction house and evaluate according to your plan.
Retail consignment is another option when considering selling off your wine. In a consignment sale, the retailer will place your wine for sale via their site and then for any wine that sells, you get the proceeds minus a commission that the retailer collects. Unsold wine is returned to you to either find a different sales channel or for your drinking pleasure. There are numerous retailers who will sell your wine via consignment.
When choosing a partner for consignment, again be aware of the fees and conditions. Another factor to consider, and this is applicable to auctioning as well, is to sell with a larger consignment. You’re more likely to sell the wine and earn a better value when you are selling by the case(s). Attempting to sell one or two bottles at a time can often lead to your wine not selling or not being approved. Retailers typically do not accept small quantities, as they know buyers are looking to really build a collection and not just looking for one bottle.
Our favorite consignment retailer, Vinfolio, offers an excellent service that has helped sell wine for many high end wine collectors over the past 10 years. Send a list of your wines and you will get a quick estimate for the sale. Once an agreement for the sale is reached, the wine is priced for you and sold through Vinfolio’s very reputable online retail site where it is sold along side Vinfolio’s outstanding retail inventory. Vinfolio manages the entire sale and marketing of your wine and you sit back and collect the payments.
Immediate Cash Sale
If you’re looking for less hassle and just want to get rid of wine, then consider doing an outright sale to a retailer; they will take the wine off your hands. Sell your wine to them, they’ll give you cash, and they worry about selling it themselves.
This method is simpler for you and can help you rid of your collection faster. You can very easily earn immediate cash for your wine and be done with it. But although it sounds nice, there is a catch – you you’re more likely to earn less than the wine’s actual worth versus if you auction or retail it. We recommend the outright sale option if you’re looking to quickly condense your collection.
Do-It-Yourself. You post the wine, select the price, and collect the proceeds. Obviously, you cannot do this entirely on your own, as it is not allowed in the United States. Post the wines you want to sell and collect the proceeds if the wine sells. There is currently only one option for this in the United States – The Vinfolio Marketplace. It gives private collectors control over their inventory and allows them to manage listings and prices through VinCellar. Once the sale occurs, Vinfolio simply removes the wine from your storage collection and transfers it to the buyer. You then get the proceeds from the sale minus the marketplace commission. Selling via marketplace requires a bit more work and management on your behalf, but it keeps you in control and is usually your only option for selling single bottles or small collections.
When deciding on a company, stay aware of their methods. The laws are strict with alcohol sales and based on your state they can change. Make sure that who you operate through is in accordance to your region’s rules. Which brings us to our next point…
What Not To Do
Do not sell directly from collector-to-collector without working through a third party platform. This is illegal in all states. As stated above, laws for selling alcohol are very strict and a slight misstep can put you in hot water legally. Make sure you know all the laws of your state and county when considering selling your wine. In other words, there needs to be a “middle man.” That is why Vinfolio is here; so you can rebalance your wine collection and build or help build a beautiful collection of some of the world’s most exquisite wines.