How to grow a wine cellar….
How does one “grow” a wine cellar? Where does one start? Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy and for most of us, it happens without us knowing about it.
The most important stage in growing a wine cellar is making the right selections early on and I’m not referring to wine. I mean that you have to select the “right” wine vendor to buy your wine from. This article will try to help you select the “right” wine vendor and how to cultivate your selection to get the best wine for your cellar.
By this point, I probably have some of you scratching your head… Selecting the right wine vendor and then cultivating? How can this be the most important thing? How hard can it be? I walk in, buy my wine, take it home… and that is what most people do. I’m going to tell you how to get the wines that never make it to the shelves in the store. The ones that you hear about but never see…. That’s why to need to select the right vendor and cultivate.
Everybody buys wine at a couple of stores. These stores are selected because they’re closer, less expensive, convenient, etc…. I would suggest that you narrow your stores down to one, maybe even two, but no more than two as it can get very expensive. Select the wine store where you feel comfortable when shopping. Does the store have a nice selection of wines and not just the standards? Is the staff knowledgeable in their products? Does the store offer wine tasting? Can they help you when matching wine with food?
Okay, you’ve narrowed down your wine vendors to one or two…. Now is the time to start cultivating. Find out who is the wine buyer. The wine buyer is the person that meets with the various wine distributor representatives and selects what comes into the store and on the shelves. This is also the person who knows about those “special” wines – the allocated wines.
An allocated wine is a wine that is in limited release due to quantity and desirability. Distributors will get a limited number of bottles and they in turn will make these bottles available to the wine stores. The distribution of the wines to the wine stores is dependent on various factors; sales volumes and personal relationships being the key factors. Here is where cultivating comes into play. Ask the manager or the wine buyer to be notified when allocated wines become available. Let them know that you want to start buying allocated and reserved wines. As these wines become available and you are notified, buy them. Buy one, two, or maybe a case (if available). Just start buying. There may be some wines that you don’t really know or want, buy a bottle anyway, you may find a new wine that you really like. The point is to keep your name in mind when the allocated wines become available so the wine buyer notifies you. This is the cultivation part of growing your wine cellar. Over time, the wine buyer will start mentally moving your name up the list of people to notify. If you want a shot of those truly exclusive wines, your name needs to be in the top five.
One of the joys of doing this is that you develop a wonderful relationship with the people at the wine store. The wine buyer that I started working with over 15 years ago is still one of my best friends. She is no longer in the business but we still get together and drink the wines out of the wine cellar that we grew together.
~ Larry the Wine Guy