How to pick the right storage strategy
The ultimate storage guide for wine collectors
Wine storage isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. A collector who owns a handful of aged wines will have different storage needs than a collector who owns 5,000 ultra-rare vintages. This storage guide for wine collectors will teach you how to analyze your collection to find the best storage solution, including how to build your own cellar from scratch or store your wine professionally. Learn more.
The best storage solutions by cellar size
Your wine storage options will vary depending on how many bottles you own. For small collections of 100 bottles or less, a wine fridge will be the most convenient choice since full wine cellars will be too large and costly. Most collectors have success storing their drinkable bottles in fridges and storing their age-worthy bottles in a professional warehouse. If you own between 100 and 1,000 bottles, you can start looking into home cellar options; your collection will be too large for most wine fridges, and a cellar is the only home storage that will provide you the space and safety your bottles need. If your collection exceeds 1,000 bottles, you might not have enough space to store them all in a home cellar, so you'll want to consider storing them in a professional warehouse instead. Learn more.
Analyzing the cost of home storage versus warehouse storage
A home wine cellar can be a satisfying investment, or an unexpected nightmare. Like any major project, construction can be damaging, delayed, and over budget. It is important for collectors thinking about building a wine cellar to understand the costs of both building and running your cellar before making a decision, and to avoid common budget surprises. Learn more.
Understanding the risks of building a home cellar
There are three major risks to having a home wine cellar: wine spoilage, poor organization, and having no proof of storage. Before you build your own cellar, you'll need to invest in a cooling unit and humidifier to keep your bottles at the ideal temperature and humidity (which prevents premature aging and oxidation). Your cellar should also have wine-safe lighting and shock-absorbing shelving. You’ll need to know the exact location of every wine in your cellar at all times, otherwise you may miss your chance to sell or drink your wine while it's in its prime. Finally, you should take photos of your cellar and of every bottle in your collection as you have it stored in your cellar to prove your wine is being stored properly. Having documentation that supports your claim that your collection is being stored correctly will increase your wine's resale value. Learn more.
Comparing the benefits of self-service versus full-service storage
Self-storage collectors are those who either own a home cellar or keep their wines in a self-storage locker that they can visit at any time. 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. Learn more.
Your guide to professional wine storage
There are two main reasons why professional storage is important for collectors: safety and provenance. When you store bottles in a home cellar, future buyers have no proof that your bottles were stored properly--for all they know, your cellar could be too hot, too cold, or too dry. Storage warehouses keep track of every environmental setting and provide future buyers with proof of safe, consistent storage methods. Full-service warehouses also notify you when your bottles are ready to drink and have them shipped safely to your doorstep. Buyers and auction houses love to see a clear line of ownership from the time the bottle leaves the winery until it reaches auction. Having your wine shipped directly from the winery to a professional warehouse leaves a strong trail of paperwork, verifying the bottle's provenance. Learn more.
Understanding the risks of using a self-storage wine locker
Self-storage wine lockers require you to ship, store, and organize your own wine. This differs from full-service storage warehouses, which take care of all this for you. Self-storage lockers require collectors to take time out of their schedule to drive to the locker's location, which puts bottles at risk during travel. Since no one is around to check on a self-storage locker every day, if something goes wrong, it may not get fixed in a timely manner. Over the long-term, wine lockers may very well cost more than full-service warehouses because of the cost of things like installing your own wine racks and commuting to the storage facility. Storage lockers also put you in charge of keeping your own bottles organized, and if one or two slip through the cracks, or you forget where you stored them, you could lose out on a major investment. Learn more.
Analyzing the cost of self-service wine storage
Storing your wine in a locker is not the bargain that you might think. There are many people in the wine collecting community that have chosen to store their wine in self-service wine locker facilities, as shown by the rise in recent years of ‘do-it-yourself’ locations popping up across the U.S. These are often viewed as the most-cost effective way to store your wine collection. But what collectors often fail to take into consideration are three major factors that, in the end, can cost them far more each year than storing with a full-service wine storage operation. Learn more.
**Photo courtesy of Imperial Wine Storage
**Photo courtesy of Price Self Storage
Comparing the benefits of refrigerator versus cellar storage at home
Consider the wine you already have in your collection; do you plan on drinking it within the next five years or fewer? If so, you can safely store your bottles in a wine fridge rather than a cellar. Fridges (sometimes called “coolers”) keep your bottles at a constant 55 degrees, which prevents your wines from becoming “cooked” during hot summer months. Wine fridges might seem like a no-brainer, but they’re not the best choice for every collector, especially those who own bottles that they plan on aging for a decade or more. Learn more.
Analyzing the costs of refrigerator versus cellar storage at home
A wine fridge will almost always be less expensive than a home cellar, both in installation costs and maintenance. Low-end wine fridge models that hold fewer than 50 bottles can cost as little as $200, and you'll spend less than $100 more every year in added electricity costs to keep it running. You can also buy a high-end model that holds more than 200 bottles for about $15,000, and still spend less than $140 more per year in electricity. By contrast, the smallest, most minimalistic home cellar you can build will cost you at least $15,000 in installation costs, plus an added $300 to $850 in added electricity every year. Some cellars can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build. The larger and more elaborate your cellar is, the more you will spend on installation and maintenance. Learn more.
How to make the most of your full-service storage facility
The first quality you should look for in a full-service wine storage platform is whether it offers a mobile app to keep track of your bottles. Let’s say that the wine retailer you use has an app with advanced features and functionality; the next step is to check on your retailer’s wine storage options to make sure they are best-in-class. The best wine sellers offer bottle authentication and white glove shipping to premium customers. Learn more.
The cost of storing wine in bond versus out of bond
When you store wine out-of-bond, you have to pay duty and sales taxes on the bottles, plus the cost of storing your bottles at home or in a professional warehouse. When you store wine in-bond, however, you only have to pay for the cost of storage; taxes don't apply unless you take the bottles out of storage. The upside of out-of-bond storage is that you can choose where to keep your bottles, which could potentially lower your storage costs. You also have easy access to your wine. This is a good option for collectors who pay relatively low sales taxes on wine or who plan to drink their wine rather than sell it. Alternatively, storing wine in-bond will save you money on taxes, but bonded warehouses can cost more in annual storage fees than out-of-bond warehouses. In-bond storage is best only if you plan on selling your bottles later, or if your state's sales tax is exceptionally high. Learn more.