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  • Guide to Buying Wine Directly From Winemakers | Vinfolio

Purchasing from the trade

Purchasing from the trade

How to get on the best California mailing lists

Mailing lists offer the chance to buy wine for a fraction of its price on the secondary market, but the mailing lists for the best wines are highly competitive. It can take as long as ten years to get on the most sought-after wine mailing lists in the world. To make the best of your mailing list strategy, start by focusing on the mailing lists that sell wines you love. Make sure the wine is collectible and within your budget, and then focus on the lists with the shortest wait. After you narrow down to the wineries that fit this criteria, make a spreadsheet that lists out all of the winery mailing lists you applied for and check the list frequently for updates. Learn more.

Best practices for managing your allocations

"You know how allocations work — once you get an allocation, you gotta order…or you risk getting blackballed the next year. And the wine accumulates." Georgi explains that she was already having trouble storing her wines before her newest allocations had even arrived. Not only do collectors need to know how many bottles they should buy to stay on an allocation list, they also need to effectively manage storing the bottles they order. Learn more.

The difference between pre-arrivals and futures

When you buy wine futures, you are purchasing wine in cask, before it has even been bottled. When you buy pre-arrival wines, you're buying wine that's already been bottled but that hasn't left the winery yet. Pre-arrival wines are usually ready to ship, so it takes far less time to receive a pre-arrival order than it does to receive a wine futures order. With futures, you have to wait months or even years for the wine to fully mature in the barrel, be bottled, be sent to the retailer who you purchased from, and finally be shipped to you. Although futures are usually cheaper than pre-arrivals they're also much riskier, and you'll wait longer before getting a return on your initial investment. Learn more.

Best practices for purchasing pre-arrivals and futures

Even well-educated wine collectors mistakenly assume that futures and pre-arrivals are the same thing. The goal of both wine futures and pre-arrivals is to get immediate access to the finest wine without risk of the bottles selling out after release. Collectors view this as a good way to make a solid return, both because their costs are low and also because provenance is pristine. While both terms refer to buying wines "en primeur," they represent two distinct styles of presales. Learn more.

Purchasing Ex-Château wines

Ex-château wines have been stored with the original winery since they were first bottled. Some wineries hold onto bottles from the best vintages for decades, releasing them on the market as they approach their peak maturity. Ex-château wines are great investments for beginning collectors since they are the safest way to buy wine on the market. These bottles have never left the winery since their creation, which virtually guarantees that the wine has been stored safely and that the flavors will develop undisturbed in the bottle. Learn more.

When to buy wine under bond

Buying wine under bond means that you ship the wine directly from the winery to a secure bonded storage warehouse, without going through customs. First, you pay the merchant for the wine. After this, the merchant marks the wine as a "bonded shipment," and sends the wine directly to a licensed warehouse. From here, the storage warehouse keeps the wine under ideal conditions until you decide what to do with the bottles. In the meantime, you avoid paying any duty taxes or VAT, meaning that you can buy wine at a cheaper price than if you were to buy it out of bond. Learn more.

How to buy wine en primeur

Buying en primeur means pre-ordering your wine from the winery before it's been bottled. Wineries in the most collectable wine regions, particularly Bordeaux, offer up a small portion of their wines every year for pre-sales while the juice is still in barrel. Buying en primeur has several advantages including lower cost and top provenance, but it can be difficult to get in the game. Only a few select, high-end retailers carry the best futures that Bordeaux has to offer, and the quantities given to those retailers (especially for First Growths) are highly allocated. Learn more.

How Vinfolio is changing your En Primeur experience

Vinfolio co-owner and CEO Don St. Pierre began his wine journey in 1996, when he and his father founded ASC Fine Wines in China. At the time China didn’t have a massive fine wine market, so St. Pierre saw an opportunity to introduce the best French wines to the region. Within just a few years, St. Pierre and his father became the largest importers and distributors of fine wine in the country, bringing a brand-new customer base to top estates such as Haut-Brion, Latour, and Cos d’Estournel. As a result of ASC’s success, China now import more Bordeaux than any other country in the world. After selling to Suntory, St. Pierre moved back to he U.S. and invest in Vinfolio, all the while maintaining his close ties to Bordeaux’s top châteaux. Learn more.