Choosing a Wine Storage Provider
Your collection is a sizable asset. Its value includes both the capital and time you spent acquiring it. Choosing the right storage provider is an integral part of protecting your investment.
Make sure you are dealing with an authentic cellaring facility. Building a professional cellaring facility is capital intensive. Confirm that your provider has invested the capital required to create the standards of climate control and security you expect in the wine storage application.
Fine wines require unique and specialized conditions for optimal maturation and preservation. This being the case, it is critical that you, "the consumer", understand how to identify whether or not your provider is able to provide these conditions.
But many consumers don't know what to look for. The devil is in the details. So we have created this handy checklist. Bring it along on your next site inspection. You should be able to answer "yes!" to most all of the following questions:
- Has the space been retrofit for the wine storage application or simply a warehouse?
- Concrete, stone or brick has no insulating value - none should be visible in the cellar?
- Is there at least 6 inches of insulation on all the walls and 3 inches on the ceiling?
- Is there a vapour barrier (for humidity control) in place, on all the walls and ceiling?
- Is there equipment in place to increase cellar humidity levels?
- Is there equipment in place to decrease cellar humidity levels?
- Is there a fresh air ventilation system in place, one that can condition the air prior to entry?
- Is the cellar subterranean (if not, a generator will be required)?
- Was a qualified HVAC engineer used to design the facility (signed drawings available)?
- Is the cooling system properly zoned (roughly one evaporator per 500 sq ft of cellar)?
- Is the cooling system correctly sized (about 1.5 BTUs per cubic foot)?
- Is the cooling system completely automated (i.e. Johnson Controls, temp sensors, etc)?
- Are there sensors checking temperature throughout the cellar?
- Are there thermometers and hygrometers on display for all to see - do they actually work?
- Are there high and low temperature alarms in place?
- Are the high and low temperature sensors connected to the alarm monitoring system?
- Does the cellar have a high liquid to air ratio (versus large open spaces or ceilings)?
- Do they separate heavy traffic areas and loading zones from the cellar with buffer zones?
- Is there third party monitoring in place to verify the quality of the cellar conditions?
- Is there a sprinkler system, in both the cellar and the surrounding infrastructure?
- Must one pass through multiple layers of security to reach any wine?
- Do these multiple layers utilize different security technologies?
- Does it include sophisticated security technologies, such as biometrics for example?
- Are there cameras (CCTV) throughout the cellar, watching all the inventory?
- Is the inventory protected within the cellar (versus out in the open)?
- Are the alarm communication lines protected (i.e. DVAC system)?
- Do they retain a third party alarm monitoring service contract?
- Do they retain a third party alarm response service contract?
- Is there multi-day back-up power for the security (generator or 100lb+ massive batteries)?
- Are there night patrols protecting the facility when unoccupied?
- Are there flood control devices (i.e. drains) and flood monitoring devices?
- Is the cellar located in a safe and reasonably populated area?
- Is their insurance policy or claims clear (i.e. caution: WLL policies do not protect your wine)?
- Is the business well established (at least 5+ years)?
- Is wine storage their primary business activity, or only a sideline to other businesses?
- Is their pricing published and transparent?
- Is building owned by provider or locked up with long-term lease with commercial landlord?
- Has the cellar remained at same location (i.e. if properly built, one cannot afford to move)?
- Can the provider physically show you the equipment/infrastructure mentioned above?
- Is the company ownership transparent and public?
- Are the owners well known in the community?
- Does the operation seem to be running profitably (at least at two thirds capacity)?
- Does the company welcome tours of their facility?
- Does the facility look and smell clean, and generally look well run and organized?
Anyone can install a couple of refrigeration units in a concrete warehouse to create cold storage. You are paying for professional wine cellaring, so make sure you are not simply getting cold storage.
Websites are written by marketing departments, and provide no real evidence of the quality of the cellaring conditions. Making a site inspection is always recommended.
Touring The Fine Wine Reserve, you will see firsthand how we retrofit the building for the wine storage application. You will be provided with on-site demonstrations of all the infrastructure and equipment systems mentioned above.
As such, we're proud to claim a 90+% closing rate among savvy collectors who take the time to personally inspect the cellar. Upon completing the tour, we believe our commitment to providing you with the very best care for your wines will be very clear.