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ARTICLE: Collecting Wine is a Long-Term Commitment that requires Vision, Direction and – Storage

Worth £2.5bn annually, the global fine wine market shows no sign of slowing down. Wine continues to be a valuable investment and viable alternative in the uncertain world of stocks and shares. However, investment is very much long-term, with collectors most likely to see a good return at least ten years after purchase.

Whether you are collecting wine as an investment, or purely for personal enjoyment, the chances are you are in it for the long run. The trick to a good wine collection is therefore storage – a dedicated place to store multiple cases of wine, untouched for long periods, and at the right temperature, humidity, ventilation and darkness. And of course, security is key.

Russell Scanlan spoke to Lucy Hargreaves, Managing Director of Spiral Cellars, to discover the latest trends in storage and how optimum storage facilities can impact on the value of a wine collection today.


What are the latest trends you are seeing in wine storage?

Traditionally, wine collections would be stored in outbuildings, a garage or hidden away under the home, out of sight. Now, collectors want their collection at the heart of the home and entertaining spaces, showcased on the floor or wall. We want to see our wine and treat it very much as a prized art collection. Labels are important too – the latest cellars are designed with glass and effective lighting to see bottles in their prime condition. This poses an interesting challenge, using glass but keeping bottles at the right temperature.

These days, collectors are very well travelled, inspired by luxury hotels and bars. Our clients want to bring this inspiration home, reflected in their own wine cellars and design, for example, we’re increasingly designing cellars with stainless steel to give that contemporary look and feel. We’re also seeing a rise in other collections too – bespoke gin and whisky walls for example, all inspired from travels abroad.


What do collectors need to consider when thinking about storage options and design?

Primarily, the storage facility must work around the collection. Consider whether you want to store your wine in cases or as individual bottles? Are you collecting large format bottles which need larger spaces? Spiral Cellars has recently designed a cellar for purely magnum bottles for example. Bottles today are all shapes and sizes, especially new world wines, and so your storage space must take this into account.

Allow room for your collection to grow – as you continue collecting, your passion for wine can grow even greater and you may buy more than you originally intended. Your cellar needs to accommodate wine for the future.

And think about your different drinking windows. You want to be able to tuck away the wine you won’t be touching for years and have easy access to today’s drinking wine.


How does storage impact on the value of a wine collection?

Storage impacts massively on the value and quality of a wine collection. With the wrong storage, the wine is worth nothing. People either buy wine purely an investment to sell on, or they buy it to drink. I tend to recommend that for those buying only for investment; a bonded warehouse is the best option with the right conditions, storage provenance and proof of quality storage.

For those who buy their wine to drink, there is less of a need to prove that wine is being kept in perfect conditions. However, many of our clients will buy a case to drink but also buy a case to sell. And so the value of that wine is certainly determined by where it is stored. Wine must be stored at the right humidity, right temperature, UV and vibration free. This allows it to age in the best way and be ready to drink in the right window.


From your experience, do collectors insure their wine correctly?

I think many people undervalue their wine collection enormously, not realising how much it is worth or how many bottles and cases they actually own. At Spiral Cellars we offer Spiral Library, an online system for collectors to log their wines. Keeping track is really important, knowing how much you have and an estimate of how much it is worth. I always advise clients to give an indicative value of their collection to their insurers on an annual basis.


With 35 years of knowledge and expertise Spiral Cellars have created more than 3,800 luxury wine cellars in the UK alone and numerous others across the globe, including bespoke walk-in wine rooms, state of the art wine walls, elegant wine cabinets and of course, underground Spiral Cellars. www.spiralcellars.co.uk 

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