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June 2008 - Wine Source

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Wine Storage Options for Serious Wine Collectors

Wine asset management, as serious wine collecting and storage has come to be known, is available in a variety of configurations depending on what a wine lover's needs are. Storage options include vault-like facilities where a customer's wine has a room all to itself, facilities that catalog and store wines all together in a cave or warehouse, decorative custom racks and cellars for the home and even wine storage lockers at local restaurants.

When deciding on how to store your wine, consider the following:

How long will your wine need to be stored?

There are many reasons to store wine, and the longer you plan to store it, the more important environmental conditions are. Some wine lovers store wine with a long-term investment in mind while others, such as wineries, may just be looking for a temporary space while their own storage facilities are full.

The type of wine you are storing also plays a part in length of storage time since many wines change and become more complex over time. Modestly priced wines generally improve more in the short-term, while finer wines that have come from quality fruit, harvested at the peak of ripeness and sugar levels, and are processed appropriately, will develop more complex flavors, intense aromas and deeper colors over many years assuming they are stored under the proper conditions.

How important is consistent temperature, humidity and lighting?

At a lower temperature wine develops more slowly, which allows it to reach and maintain its peak drink ability. If wine becomes too warm, certain aspects may mature and decline before others have been optimized. A temperature-controlled facility is a must for collectors who will be storing their wine over a long period of time. The industry standard for wine cellaring is 55-57 degrees.

Humidity levels are important as well. High humidity will cause mold and mildew, which can damage a wine's label and foil. But too little humidity can cause corks to dry out, shrink, break the seal and ultimately spoil the wine. Humidity of between 60-70% is optimal and is the industry standard for cellar storage.

How important is security, privacy and accessibility?

If you are storing valuable wine and want to rest easy, you may want to choose a facility that has individual lockers, state-of-the-art alarm systems at the facility, and on each individual locker, on-site surveillance cameras and even a 24-hour, on-site security guard or residing resident manager. Also, a fire sprinkler system in the building would be reassuring.

Secure wine storage facilities located in earthquake country should also include sturdy shelving that is bolted securely to floors and walls and specifically designed to protect the wine in the event of an earthquake. If a facility also has a back-up generator system, you will have extra assurance that even during a power outage; your wine will be maintained at the proper temperature.

Other Storage Options

For wine collectors who want to keep their collection close to home, the sky's the limit when it comes to personal storage containers, racks, cooling systems and cellars. If cost is no object and sufficient space is available, there are companies that specialize in building home wine cellars. Of course, this is the most expensive option and should only be considered if one is certain they will not be moving anytime soon. If properly designed and constructed, the home wine cellar can be a source of great enjoyment, but like many home improvements, the cost of construction is unlikely to be recovered if the home needs to be sold and may limit its appeal to future buyers who are not wine collectors.

There are many home refrigeration units on the market for storage of wine, but most of these are of rather limited capacity and unlikely to meet the needs of a serious collector. However, these units can be a good part of a storage solution - allowing a small sampling of the collection to be kept at the home while the bulk of the wine is stored off-site in a secure facility.

A final option is the installation of built-in or free standing wine rack in a room of the home. The problem here is that the wine will not be stored at optimum conditions since most people do not want to maintain their home at 55 degrees. Thus, for valuable wines, this should only be a short term solution for wine ready to be consumed in the near future.

For collectors of valuable wines with long term potential, the best solution is probably a combination of off-site storage in a secure facility with ideal temperature and humidity conditions, with some small amount of temperature-controlled storage in the home for those wines which are ready to be enjoyed at the peak of perfection.

By having a proper wine storage facility at your disposal, it is possible to buy cases of wine when they are first released and store them until they reach their peak. This can save significant cost compared to buying such wines aged to perfection (if they can even be found), and some collectors can sell the wines they have aged under perfect conditions and make a profit to fund further acquisitions of fine wines. Enjoy!

About the Author

James Ledwith is a real estate developer specializing in self storage. His interest in collecting fine wines led him to develop a secure, climate controlled wine storage facility called Marin Wine Vaults in San Rafael, CA which is close the Napa and Sonoma wine country. He can be reached at

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Wine Storage Options for Serious Wine Collectors

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