Creating a safe and secure location for your collection from a security standpoint requires the following:

protection from fire

protection from flood

protection from internal security threats

protection from external security threats

proper monitoring and oversight of the security systems.

Protection from Fire

The most likely cause of catastrophic damage to a wine collection housed at home is fire. Professional cellars can guard against fire and this is a one of many key advantages of off-site versus home storage. Since not all providers have comprehensive fire protection systems, the ability to protect stored wine from fire is an important criterion upon which to judge a wine storage facility. We believe that our fire protection safe guards are of the highest standard available for wine storage.

The sprinkler system is perhaps the single most important piece of security equipment in the cellar. A proper fire suppression system virtually eliminates the possibility that fire will spread. When considering a wine storage facility, verify that it has a sprinkler system, that it is up to code, and that it is annually inspected.

We invite you to compare our fire protection systems to any others available:

  • The cellar and the building in which we are located is protected by a fire suppression and alarm monitoring system certified in accordance with CAN-ULCS36M97 standards;
  • The cellar and the building in which we are located includes a sprinkler system installed and maintained to NFPA13 standards;
  • Our facility is NOT located in a warehouse or an industrially-zoned building. Our cellar is housed within a busy commercially-zoned building which by law requires higher levels of protection and oversight. With office space on the floors above, our fire suppression and monitoring equipment requirements are stringent and comprehensive. By law, our fire protection systems are subject to regular monthly testing and annual inspection and certification;
  • As part of the professional cellaring retrofit, we replaced the sprinkler system in the cellar - upgrading the capacity/volume of the existing sprinkler system by 50%;
  • The Fine Wine Reserve is equipped with smoke detectors, heat sensors, fire hose cabinets, portable fire extinguishers, pull stations and fire alarm bells and;
  • The Fine Wine Reserve is located downtown, on a busy main street, less than two km from a fire station. Fire hydrants and standpipes are located within one meter of the cellar.

Protection from Flood

The Fine Wine Reserve cellar is not located in a flood plain, so a catastrophic flood from rising waters is not a concern. Even so, any basement level space is susceptible to flooding from mechanical failure or a severe rainfall event. The Fine Wine Reserve has the following measures in place to protect your wines from flooding:

  • A series of emergency drains, complete with backflow preventers;
  • Water sensors which monitor the cellar 24/7 for flooding (installation pending, est. 2011);
  • We maintain 95% of the inventory a minimum of 10 to 15 centimeters off the ground;
  • Ceiling mounted vapour barrier diverts potential spills (from above) away from inventory and into the corridors.

Protection from Internal Security Threats

The Fine Wine Reserve's internal or interior security strategy was developed after extensive consultation with wine storage providers in the United States and local security experts. Poor internal security and/or accidental loss resulting from inadequate handling procedures are the leading causes of wine loss in the wine storage industry.

Applying what we learned, the Fine Wine Reserve's approach to security begins inside the cellar. Upon entering the cellar proper, visitors are usually surprised when they do not see any wine. That's because the Fine Wine Reserve keeps no wine out in the open. All wines are stored behind locked and alarmed barriers - even within the cellar area itself. We also have 16 cameras that monitor and record activity in the cellar and outside our building. These safeguards virtually eliminate the potential for theft from the inevitable traffic that the wine storage provider will have on site including those visits from inspectors, meter readers, contractors, cleaning staff, clients and staff to name a few.

In addition, we have developed a unique system in which both the perimeter and interior alarm systems are always on. All systems are armed 24/7 - regardless of whether or not there are people in the cellar. Accessing any wine requires specific computer controlled deactivation of the alarm for each given area upon every visit. Each visit is archived digitally and photographically. This means client wine is always completely secure - around the clock. The strategy also eliminates the very real possibility that staff forgets to re-arm the system.

Adding an important element to internal security is our inventory and handling procedures. Our system incorporates built-in redundancy and repetition checks designed to immediately identify procedural errors. This system is working. The Fine Wine Reserve has now handled over 200,000 bottles of client wine and never misplaced a single one.

Protection from External Security Threats (Multilayered System)

The Fine Wine Reserve does not believe that a single security system (e.g. perimeter contacts, CCTV system, motion detectors, etc.) provides a safe level of external or perimeter security for the professional wine storage facility. We take a multilayered approach to ensure our clients are provided with the highest available standard of security for their collections. With multiple overlapping systems, if anything is breached or fails, there are always other security devices in place.

Our perimeter security systems are designed such that one must successfully navigate through six layers of security before ever reaching any wine in our cellar. For security purposes, clearly we do not publicly disclose every security measure in place, but we invite you to consider the following security features of the Fine Wine Reserve:

  • From the building's common area, entrance into the Fine Wine Reserve lobby is controlled by an electric strike and monitored 24/7 by a security system and alarm monitoring station contracted out by the Fine Wine Reserve. Access is biometric, and only granted to individuals who's fingerprint is both on file and matches their proximity card;
  • Motion activated, infra-red, digital CCTV surveillance cameras capture and record all activity in the cellar and outside our building. All activity is reviewed on a regular basis and stored onto long term storage media;
  • From the street, entrance into the building's common area is protected by the Landlord's security systems. An access control system monitored by a central alarm system protects the outer perimeter during non-business hours. Only individuals with a properly coded proximity card can get past the card reader and electric strike to gain entry into the common area of the building;
  • From our lobby, entrance into the wine cellar is controlled by a third access control system monitored 24/7 by an alarm monitoring station. Only individuals with a properly coded proximity card and correct entry code can bypass the electric strike and gain entry into the wine cellar area;
  • Entrance into the units where the wines are housed is controlled by a fourth access control system monitored by the Fine Wine Reserve's central alarm system. Only individuals with a properly coded proximity card and correct pass code for the individual unit, and a key to the deadbolt lock can gain entry into a wine storage unit. Every storage unit on site is individually alarmed, meaning we now have over 250 separate alarm contacts on site;
  • Security guards patrol the perimeter of the cellar at night

Additional features that enhance the security of the Fine Wine Reserve include the following:

  • The facility is located in a busy, well lit, area of downtown Toronto (versus an industrial area);
  • The cellar is surrounded by 22" to 48" thick stone walls (100% coverage);
  • All doors and door frames on site are heavy gauge steel security doors with NRP security hinges.
  • Door hardware utilizes heavy duty automatic closer technology, door ajar and failure alert mechanisms;
  • Clients install their own lock on their private units. Not even our staff are able to enter clients units;
  • Storage units are constructed in a manner such that bypassing the alarm system or otherwise penetrating the unit without causing visible damage is impossible, thus eliminating the potential for un-recorded loss or "mysterious disappearance".

Monitoring and Oversight of the Cellar Security

Fine Wine Reserve staff and a team of contracted professionals provide continuous supervision of the security situation around your wines. The power supply and communication lines to the security system, our glass break detectors, motions sensors and over 250 contact alarms are all subject to routine physical checks and supervised 24/7 by sophisticated remote monitoring equipment. Should there ever be a breach in any of the security zones the system automatically notifies the alarm monitoring company, guard personnel and management.

The Fine Wine Reserve pays a higher than average annual fee to guarantee rapid/priority guard response following any alarm situation. The communication lines used by the security systems are protected with a DVAC system, which checks for a breach in the line every 8 seconds. Two systems record and archive all human activity in the cellar, and this activity is reviewed daily. The perimeter of the building is subject to routine night patrols. A 310lb back-up battery provides multi-day emergency back-up power to critical perimeter security devices.