Self-storage wine lockers require collectors to organize their bottles themselves, unlike full-service warehouses, which store and organize the bottles for them.
When I was in college, the closest self-storage wine locker was located two and a half hours south of town. I didn’t go to school in an especially small city, and my college town had a thriving wine culture, so this fact always surprised me. To pick up or drop off bottles, I would have needed to drive a full five hours round-trip, which was hardly convenient for a busy student who worked every evening. The owners of a popular wine bar downtown had the same complaint: because the restaurant’s cellar was very small, they couldn’t keep more than a dozen of their own bottles there at a time, and would make that two and a half hour trip once every month instead.
This is just one of the pitfalls of a self-storage wine locker. While at first glance lockers may seem like the perfect solution to an overstuffed home cellar, in practice they can be more inconvenient (and risky) than they appear.
What Are Self-Storage Wine Lockers?
The main difference between a self-storage wine locker and a full-service storage warehouse is that wine lockers require your time and effort. When you store with a professional warehouse, you get many full-service amenities that you don’t receive with a locker. For instance, the best warehouses will authenticate your bottles and check them for damage upon arrival. They will then safely pack your wine, keeping each bottle organized by a barcode system. Finally, they keep all of the environmental settings under control, from temperature to humidity. All you have to do is send your wine to the warehouse according to its shipping rules, then order your wine from them when you’re ready to drink or sell it.
By contrast, a self-storage locker is a bare bones operation. You’re offered space and environmental controls, but it’s up to you to organize that space and pack your wine inside. If you choose the wrong type of wine racks, or you’re not sure how to best organize your locker, that space can easily get out of hand. In my experience, even the most seasoned collectors struggle with these problems.
Time Is a Factor
One issue with collectors is that they don’t always have the time they need to stay up to date on the status and organization of their lockers. This becomes more apparent the further away the wine locker is from the client’s home. Unless you live in a major metropolitan area, chances are, the closest quality wine locker will be at least an hour away from your home. This means that you’ll need to take time out of your schedule to drive to and from your cellar whenever you want to drop off a new case or pick up a handful of bottles for a dinner party, whereas full-service storage will send the wine to your door whenever you want.
But what if you happen to live close by a wine locker? Time can still negatively impact your wine. Should anything go wrong with the environmental controls, or should a bottle break, you might not notice the problem until hours, days, or even weeks after it happens. This increases the risk of spoilage or label damage.
They’re Less Economical than Full-Service Storage
One common worry that collectors have when they hear the words “full-service wine storage” is that it will be out of their budgets. However, the costs of a self-storage wine locker can exceed that of a full-storage warehouse in some cases, and self-storage also has more hidden costs. Lockers will cost you anywhere from $1 to $3 per bottle every year, depending on how large your collection is and which locker you decide to work with. If you have a collection with about 500 bottles, you can spend between $500 and $1,500 for storage each year, plus the cost of wine racks. Some racks can cost at least $1,000 to install, and often cost more if you go with high-end materials. Yet for about the same price as a locker, full-service storage lets you avoid additional costs related to racks, as well as saving you money on gas.
Organization Is a Problem
One commonly overlooked problem with self-storage lockers is organization. Full-service warehouses use barcodes in conjunction with wine organization apps to give their customers more control and closer oversight over their collections without any extra effort on the collector’s part. Collectors can simply find their wine on the app, or ask to receive a notification when their wine is getting close to its peak maturity. With a locker, you’re left on your own to navigate this process, increasing the chances that one or two bottles will slip through the cracks. This can result in having a wine you’ve forgotten about turn to vinegar or miss its peak age for drinking or selling. Collecting wine can be a difficult and complicated process. Having full-service experts on your side can ease your mind like no self-service locker can.
By: Vinfolio Staff