In GQ, Alan Richman tells a fascinating story about his friend, who he simply calls “The Collector.” The Collector has an expansive wine cellar filled with more than 2,000 of the finest wines on the market, enough to make any wine collector’s mouth water. One day, The Collector suddenly sold off 90 percent of his bottles to an auction house. Richman recalls The Collector telling him, “I drank all the great wines in the world and I’ll drink more. I have absolutely no remorse.” While selling off such a large portion of a cellar is a surprising move, it makes sense when you consider The Collector’s personal tastes. Richman explains that while The Collector owned bottles of 1971 DRC, 1953 Margaux, and 1990 Henri Jayer, he’d often pick out inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc to sip alone at home; his drinkable bottles were usually worth less than $10 each.
When you consider this detail, it’s easy to see why The Collector sold off most of his cellar. The legendary bottles were taking up too much space, and he’d only bring them out for special occasions. The bottles he wanted to have at hand did not need to cellar–a wine refrigerator would be sufficient. The story of The Collector shows why it’s important, both for your investments and for your sanity, to decide whether you’re a self-storage or full-service wine storage collector.
You’re a Self-Storage Collector When…
Self-storage collectors are those who own a home cellar or keep their wines in a self-storage locker that a collector can visit at anytime. True self-storage collectors never have to question their home cellars because they’re efficient and easy to maintain; if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. However, few collectors can truly say this about their own home cellars, which is why it’s important to decide whether it’s the right option or not. A successful self-storage collector should have either a small, compact collection with fewer than 100 wines, or a collection that consists of 95 percent or more drinkable wines. Self storage can also be useful for those working toward a sommelier or Master of Wine title. If this seems like a short list of situations, that’s because many collectors grow unhappy with their self-storage options over time when they do not fit into at least one of these categories.
Although collectors can grab any bottle of wine they’d like from a home cellar or self-storage locker without prior notice, these options have serious problems which keep many serious collectors away from self-storage altogether. Self-storage comes with limited space, additional costs related to maintaining a home cellar’s climate, additional time spent on organizing and storing the bottles by hand, and a risk of lost bottles. If bottles aren’t properly stored and organized, they easily spoil in self-storage facilities. This means self-storage is isn’t the best choice for most collectors.
Serious collectors who are interested in wine that requires cellaring should consider the kinds of bottles that they actually drink on a weekly basis, along with how many bottles they plan on storing long-term. If you have fewer than 50 fine vintage bottles that you plan on storing for years, a self-storage option isn’t necessarily a bad idea, especially if you’re good about keeping your cellar organized. Collectors who are working on any sort of wine qualification, such as sommeliers or Masters of Wine, will need a large collection of wines at home to practice on every week. While self-storage is a viable option for collectors in these situations, full-service can also handle these scenarios. For example, if you’re a budding sommelier studying for the grueling test, you can have the bottles you need shipped to your door once every week using high-quality full-service storage facilities. Full-service is still the option that works best for most collectors.
You’re a Full-Service Wine Collector When…
If you’re ready to get serious about your wine collection, self-storage isn’t going to cut it in most situations; you need a full-service option. The hallmarks of a true self-storage collector are: owning dozens of bottles of wine that need decades of storage time, large collections consisting of hundreds or thousands of bottles, and those who are interested in reselling fine bottles of wine in the future. Typically, self-storage is more for collectors who drink the wines in their cellars on a regular basis, while full-service storage is for collectors who think of their wines as investment pieces while also storing drinkable bottles for special events. When you store your wine with a full-service option like Vinfolio, you get a number of benefits not offered by any self-storage option.
First, you ship your wine to the Vinfolio warehouse; you can either have it shipped directly from your home or from the distributor you have purchased wine from recently. Next, Vinfolio’s experts inspect every bottle for quality and damage, informing you of any suspected fraudulent bottles or leaky corks. The experts create a unique barcode for each bottle, and upload the bottle information to the VinCellar app online, allowing the collector to keep track of each bottle in the warehouse electronically. After the bottles have been safely shipped and tracked, you decide when you want each bottle shipped back to you. If you have a special anniversary dinner coming up, simply go online, select the bottle or bottles you want, and request that Vinfolio sends the wine to an address of your choice, whether that is your home or a hotel. Finally, Vinfolio’s specialized, temperature-controlled vans arrive at your door.
Wine prices have skyrocketed over the past decade, making it absolutely essential for collectors to keep their serious trophy wines in a proper storage facility, only storing young, drinkable wines at home. Today, any wine that spoils in a home cellar results in a serious investment loss for the collector, even more so than for collectors in the 1980s or 1990s. Having more at stake means that stowing your wines in a basement can be a dangerous choice. Not only do full-service options keep wines physically safe, online apps allow collectors to see and drink their wines before they spoil. Collectors won’t get as tired of their collections when they don’t see a pile of wine boxes in their homes every day, and when they never have to worry about organizing the wine themselves.
Look only for the full-service wine storage options that take every precaution necessary to guarantee your wine’s safety. Some collectors are worried about wine fraud or unexpected damage when they store their wines with a third party. The reality is that fraud and unexpected damage are actually more likely to occur in a self-storage wine cellar than they are in a wine warehouse that takes the right safety precautions. To guide your way through the selection process, only choose full-service warehouses that have high ratings among their customers before you agree to ship your wine. Ask the warehouse about security measures (such as the 24-hour security cameras installed in Vinfolio’s facility), cellar management, and cellar climate to make sure that your bottles are always treated with the respect that they deserve.
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. Call our experts today to have us store or organize your collection.