Wine Talk

Snooth User: Wilfred Valenta

Wine Storage Idea

Posted by Wilfred Valenta, Jul 1, 2016.


Please let me know what you think? Is this worth pursuing? Would some of you use this?


Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 1, 2016.

I'm approving this because you were up front about your intentions and seemed to ask our honest opinions.  I'm probably a little unclear on a couple things, and since your website isn't functional, I can't look there for answers. 

$2.50 per bottle per month (your way of expressing it suggests you aren't from the US) is not inexpensive.  I recently vacated my storage space, which was perfectly fine, and I paid $20 per month for the equivalent of 20 cases worth of space.  So that's $1 a CASE per month, about 1/30th what you are suggesting.  And I can get a bottle to drink at home, or I can pick up a bottle for a party/dinner at a friend's place, or to take to a restaurant.  That was in the very expensive Bay Area, and not on the fringes, but right in the heart of Oakland, with easy freeway access.  K&L, which is in SF proper and has a sterling reputation, has storage from $2.50 a case to approx. $5 a case, or 1/12 to 1/6 your price.  With the same or higher levels of convenience. 

I didn't price NY, but I imagine the range isn't that different.  Even if it's higher, let's say it's half the price of your idea. 

Do I have to drink the wines at the restaurants where they are stored?  That's a huge downside, limiting my ability to enjoy them as I see fit. Do they waive corkage?  I should hope so, because storing it there has cost me as much as their markup would be if I leave it there very long.  Let's say I store 6 bottles of wine at some resto, presumably near me or in a place i travel to.  Over 18 months, I go there three times and drink all the bottles.  Average storage time is about a year, so I spent $30 per bottle on average, and I had to have dinner there three times, whether I wanted to or not, so I could drink my own wine.  Corkage is usually not more than $30, so even assuming I didn't pay corkage, it's barely a wash for being committed to this resto.

Add in one other HUGE factor:  What's to stop a resto employee from drinking or stealing my wine?  There's too many people with access to the area, unless it's separated and locked off, which suggests a minimum commitment of quite a few bottles.  In which case I assume I'm going to have to eat there even more.

Or, if I don't have to eat there, great, but how do I access my bottles when the restaurant is closed?

Here's a funny irony:  The guy who owns the wine storage place I used is awesome about security.  I would happily go back to his facility if I had need of it, and he'd have me back--he vets all customers because he has no trouble keeping it full.  But he invested in a local food establishment, and the other partner, who ran it, basically tried to steal all the movable equipment and locked the doors against my amigo.  Batali and Bastianich stole from their employees.  So why would I want to store wine at a restaurant at prices that really aren't competitive?

Too bad you haven't gone public, as I would happily short your stock. 

A tiny number of people might find this useful if, for example, they have large collections of very expensive wine, they travel all the time, and eat at the same places in the same cities.  But for them, the restaurants that would appeal to them have insane cellars with many of those wines, or they have a broker in the city.  Cost isn't a big object for them to begin with, so your pitch to them would be control (although they would lose a lot of that control by having it in someone else's hands), status, and maybe saving on paying duty if they have it shipped back to their home country.  I just don't see, even in this age, so many gilded palates that this makes a lot of sense.  But then I wouldn't really understand the appeal of a lot of things that currently occupy people.



Reply by EMark, Jul 1, 2016.

I'm with Foxall, in that $2.50/bottle seems out of line.  I guess, though, that if you are really going to deliver the bottle of Zinfandel that I have stored in New York City to me when I dine in Abu Dhabi, then I can see where your service is exceptional

I apologize for the sarcasm in the first paragraph, Wilfred, but the next thing I have to ask is are there really that many people who have multiple stashes of wines distributed around the world?  Yes, I know there are people like that, but I can pretty much guarantee that most internet wine forum habitues do not enjoy that life style.  Most of us store all our wine within a pretty reasonable proximity to where we live.  I, for example, am able to store 100% of my collection in my home.

My point, here, is that I don't think that Buttery Room solves any problem that most of us have.

Regarding the idea of "an app that lets you track your growing wine collection stored in your favorite restaurant cellars all over the world,"  yes, that is a good idea. However, I'm pretty sure I can do that, today, with CellarTracker.  Maybe your proposed app might have some value or feature that CellarTracker does not have, but, in all honesty, I can't imagine what that might be.  CellarTracker is very feature rich, and, in fact, I would think it would take a lot of development on your part to create something that is the equal to CellarTracker.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 1, 2016.

CT will allow you to input a location or even barcode your wine.  So you could have a location called "11 Madison" and one called "Saison," and one called "Babbo," for the bottles Batali was stealing from, I mean storing for,  you. 

Emark, if you even need to know the rules for storing wine in Abu Dhabi, my nephew can fill you in.  He's returning after working there for three years and he enjoys wine, so he has taken it into the country.  Not sure you can get it delivered table side at a restaurant since it would have to travel through the "dry" zone of the restaurant--expats can do pretty much what they like, but the emiratis (natives/citizens) are much more restricted.  Here's the amazing part:  My grand nephew was born there last year, and his occupation on his visa is "child."  But he can't get any of the AD trust fund money, and now he can't become president of the US... any more than Ted Cruz can!

Maybe ButteryRoom can sell all that data about the .0001% it will accumulate.  But I doubt they will really like that.  Zuckerberg is happy he has your info, but not so cool about sharing his.  In fact, if you are a neighbor, don't expect that you can see him in his yard, even from your second story. 

Reply by EMark, Jul 1, 2016.

Yeah, the Abu Dhabi GP is in late November, this year, and will not conflict with our Phoenix NASCAR responsibilities. So, I told Bernie E. that we would probably be going.  He'll probably send his jet to Ontario, and we'll hop on, there.  That will make it easy for me to just hand carry my Zinfandel (and, yes, more than likely it will be one of OT's recommendations).  Dropping Bernie's name, if he's not around when we first arrive, generally allows us to circumvent niggling local laws or customs.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 1, 2016.

Bernie is the perfect candidate for ButteryRoom, except he just owns the damn restaurants, I bet. 

No, we're not talking about Sanders.  Different Bernie, folks. Last initial E, as Emark (no relation) said.

Reply by EMark, Jul 1, 2016.


A pretty interesting character,  The Wikipedia article makes no mention that he is the suspected brains behind the Great Train Robbery of 1963.  A rumor that Bernie himself does not at all try to quash. Probably legend, but it's a great one.

Go down towards the bottom of the article.  He was actually indicted in Germany for bribery, but by writing a check for 60 million Pounds, was able to walk away from that.

Believe me when I tell you, if Donald Trump tried to outfox Bernie Ecclestone, he (the Donald) would lose his shorts.  Of course, he would try to explain that was his plan all along.

Reply by Wilfred Valenta, Jul 2, 2016.

Thanks everyone for the detailed responses. Richard maybe you're right, this idea could be far too niche and security is definitely a concern. I'll let you know when I either go public or end up cellaring Zuckerbergs wine!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 3, 2016.

I love the idea that you can beat a bribery case by paying someone off.  Sigh.

Wilfred, hope I didn't come off too harsh.  In any case, Emark is right that we aren't the 1% here.  Probably in our volume of wine consumption, but not in our pocketbooks.  What's really missing in wine storage is honest operators who design their facilities to prevent theft by themselves or other patrons.  Alas, my wine storage operator encouraged a guy to get into the business who did just about every rotten thing you can do, then lit the place on fire to cover his tracks.  Didn't work, but destroyed a lot of valuable wine, including stuff that wineries had stored with him. 

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