Cellarmasters sat down with John Cuff, Wine Ark’s General Manager, to dispel any myths or miss-conceptions that people may have about wine storage.
Many people are genuinely surprised at how affordable and accessible wine storage can be. It has been perceived for years that wine storage goes hand in hand with the grey cardigan brigade – nothing could be further from the truth.
Most people have 6 to 12 bottles of wine that should not be kept at home.
Those special wines you have been holding onto for years, waiting for the special occasion to pull the cork (or twist the top as it may be). They may be the wine that you were given when you left a job, received as a present, or bought to spoil yourself. These are the wines you should be storing in a climate-controlled environment.
Why should anyone store wine?
There are many reasons; my main one is to manage disappointment. Imagine this, you have been given a bottle of Penfolds Grange for your 21st birthday and you have been looking after it for 10 years, walking past it every few days wondering what it is going to be like, it is almost beckoning you daily. Then 10 years down the track you have a great dinner party, all your friends are over and you have told them how you are going to open this amazing wine, the wine you’ve been patting for 10 years. You open it and it smells like stewed fruit – with a terrible biting finish and totally unpalatable. That is why you put wine in storage! Your reasons might be: you don’t have enough room at home; you’re hiding your good wine from your kids; you’re renovating your house or you might just want somewhere safe and secure to receive your wine
The main cause of damage to wine is temperature fluctuation. When the wine moves from 12 degrees in winter to 25 in summer, the wine expands and contracts in the bottle putting pressure on the cork – wine seeps out which lets air in and the wine oxidises and goes off. Not to mention your heaters on full time in winter and your AC units in summer! Constant temperature is the key.
What sort of person stores wine?
It is interesting to look at the cross section of clients currently using Wine Ark. Originally the profile was over 40s males with high disposable incomes working in senior management roles. This has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. There’s been a huge increase in the number of women storing wine, as well as more people in their 20s. Many people are also downsizing their homes and simply don’t have any room to store wine.
What do they store?
Wine of course! We recommend storing wine that you won’t drink within a year. You shouldn’t have wine sitting at home in fluctuating temperatures for more than a year. We have many people storing one case of wine from the vintage of their children’s birth year through to serious collectors of imported wines from Europe. We all know that most wine improves with age, but you need to age it in the correct conditions.
How much does someone have to put in?
We have clients storing as little as one magnum of wine, and others storing well over 1000 cases. The great thing about Wine Ark is that our managed cellarage option is totally scalable. You only pay for the space you use! Your cellar grows with you.
How much does it cost?
It is actually cheaper than what you might think. A few weeks ago I was presenting to a room full of bankers and financial people and asked the question... "what do you think it would cost to store one case of wine, fully insured, at 14 degrees celcius and 65% humidity in a high security environment for a month?"
Their answers were interesting. Some said $80 a month, others as high as $170. When I told them it costs approx $3 a month they all nearly fell off their chairs! For as little as a cup of coffee a month you can look after those special bottles you’ve been nurturing for years.
Do you store wine on racks or in cases? How do you store the wine?
Very good question! People assume the wine is stored on racks, but with over 3 million bottles of wine in storage that would be a lot of racks! We have two products – Managed Storage and Vault Storage. With Managed Storage we take the wine off you, open each case, grade each bottle for condition of label, ullage and capsule, we then upload the data into your online account for access by you on the web 24/7. Vault Storage is like having a safety deposit box for your wine. You can rent a vault from a small 10 Case Unit to a walk-in 650 Case Vault. The space is yours to manage and you can come and go as you please from 7am to midnight, 365 days a year – none of this business hours rubbish! You have access to your wine when ever you want it.
Do I have to bring the wine in myself?
Yes of course you can – we love meeting our clients. Alternatively we can collect the wine from your home or office, you just need to let us know what you want to do. One of the fantastic features of Wine Ark is that you can have your wine purchases sent directly to your cellar at your selected Wine Ark storage site. No more wondering if your wine is sitting on the door step at home in the sun or getting stolen, and no more hassle getting the wine home from your office. Just inform Cellarmasters staff that you want your order to go to Wine Ark and it’s all taken care of. You will receive an email when the case hits your account and then a further email once the contents have been inventoried and uploaded into your account.
I guess you have good security systems?
You have no idea! To use our Alexandria site in Sydney as an example, Vault clients enter the main lobby via a pin pad and then access the outer vault room with biometric finger scan readers. This disarms their individual vault – very James Bond. The whole site has over 400 motion sensors, 48 CCTV cameras, back to base alarm systems, redundant alarms systems – I could go on.
Lets just say it is very, very safe.
How long to store my wine?
It really is up to you. Most winemakers put what the drinking window of their wines on the back of the bottle. Wine Ark is a very customer focused business, we like looking after people, so at any time you can give one of our friendly staff a call and they can help you with drinking dates and what is best for your cellar.
Where do you have sites?
Wine Ark has 11 sites around the country, from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane in Queensland, to Sydney, Adelaide and a brand new facility in Belmont, Perth. At the moment we only have vaults in Melbourne but this will change soon.
How do I get access to my wine?
If you are in Managed Storage you enter your online account, select the wine you wish to have picked out of your account and hit send. This then instructs the cellar to pick the wine and have it ready for your collection or we can organise delivery. If you are in a Vault, you can come and go as you please from 7am to midnight!
How can I get my wine into storage?
It is all very easy. Either contact your Cellarmasters Personal Wine Advisor or contact us directly on (02) 83388033. We can talk you
through the best option for you and your wine.