Consumers’ thirst for wine fuels storage and cellar activity

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The increase in wine purchases means an increase in demand for wine storage solutions.

Melanie Young

The wine storage business has seen a measurable increase during the pandemic-induced wine buying boom. Home and offsite wine storage has seen sales increases of between 15 and almost 50 percent.

“Before the pandemic, our business grew 10 to 25 percent, depending on the year,” said Charles Malek, CEO of VintageView Wine Storage Systems in Denver. But as of May 2020, his company’s transactions were 48% higher than in previous months. “In 2019, they were $ 11.7 million; in 2020, they were $ 12.9 million; and in 2021, since the start of the year, we’ve grown by around 35%, between $ 15.5 million and $ 17 million, ”Malek says.

Malek comments that although VintageView had several residential customers before the pandemic, the company’s biggest purchases were made by restaurateurs. But today, “more and more consumers are getting into the wine preservation game. “

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A “Wine Wall” for the home by VintageView / Courtesy Wine Enthusiast

Consumer expectations: convenience plus bells and whistles

Wine lovers The catalog reported strong sales of wine storage, from the smallest home units to custom cellars. “Customers are looking for a minimalist look with maximum quality, including lighter metal, glass and wood, better lighting and more technology,” says Marshall Tilden, Wine lover vice president of wine sales and education. “It’s all about exhibiting the wines to showcase their bottles. Custom glass walls or closed wine chambers are on request.

Wine consumers spend anywhere from $ 2,500 for a small free-standing cabinet that can hold up to 200 bottles to $ 20,000 for a custom cellar that also requires additional labor and installation costs. “People put cellars in every part of their house. The dining and entertainment areas remain popular, but we also have customers building a wine cellar under their stairs and in closets, spending around $ 10,000 on customization, ”says Tilden.

VintageView Glass Wine Room by Vintage VineView / Courtesy Wine Enthusiast

Off-site storage continues to grow steadily

Offsite wine storage companies Liquid Assets Cellars in North Hollywood, California, and Manhattan Wine Company in New York City are also experiencing steady growth.

“Business has increased slightly, less than 10%. Our clients tend to be long-time collectors who demand larger spaces as they continue to accumulate wine. We have just under 100 traps that can accommodate up to 500 cases. I could use 100 more lockers right now, ”says Kevin Jones, founder of Liquid Assets Cellars.

Space has always been a bonus in cities like New York. “Our clientele – private collectors, auction houses and an organized list of commercial tastings – are financially resilient. All the hardships caused by the pandemic were relatively short lived, ”said William Tornabee, chief financial officer of Manhattan Wine Storage. “Customer behavior has changed because of COVID, but the old maxim still holds true: people drink in the good times, more in the bad.

Increased demand brings challenges

Labor shortages, soaring raw material costs and shipping delays have created challenges. Prices for lumber and refrigeration parts climbed 15 to 40 percent, according to Malek. “Another challenge is shipping,” he adds. “For three ships going to Asia, only one returns. It is also difficult to get empty containers, and the price has increased 4-6 times.

As a result, custom wooden wine racks that previously took four to eight weeks to ship, now take eight to sixteen weeks to ship. “We had to redefine customer expectations. It can be a difficult conversation, ”Malek explains.

Virtual storage: another option

With space and raw materials at a premium, another option is virtual storage. Underground Cellar is an e-commerce platform that allows customers to store up to 500 bottles in its Napa Valley wine cellar and ship wine on demand. According to Jeffrey Shaw, CEO and Founder, the company has grown almost 1,500% over the past two years, with 70% of monthly revenue coming from loyal customers.

“We believe the future of wine storage is to take wine out of expensive and difficult-to-maintain home wine cellars and turn them into virtually managed cellars. Customers can buy bottles over time, then mix and match them to create cases to ship anytime, ”says Shaw.

Shaw also comments on a shift in consumer behavior: they don’t just buy wine as a consumer good, but “as an asset class”. “Just as someone watches the value of their stock portfolio fluctuate over time, they can also see the value of their wine portfolio increase over time,” he says.

But unlike stocks of a stock, you can drink your investment on demand.

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Melanie Young produces and hosts The Connected Table Live and The Connected Table Sips podcasts featuring conversations with global thought leaders in wine, food, spirits and hospitality, and Fearless Fabulous You, a lifestyle show for women. The Connected Table LIVE is ranked # 4 in Feedspot’s Top Food & Drink Podcasts for 2021. His articles on wine & spirits and the wine business have been featured in Wine lover, Wine4Food and Seven Fifty Daily. His food articles appear in Health Magazine. For 20 years, she led M Young Communications, a food and events marketing agency in New York City, and has advised numerous global wine organizations and businesses. During this time, she was responsible for launching and managing the James Beard Foundation Awards, serving as a director for 16 years. Mélanie is a member of the Dames d’Escoffier International, the Wine Media Guild and the Women of the Vine & Spirits.

Website: www.theconnectedtable.com | IG: @theconnectedtable | TW: @ connected tablecloth

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