On-Site vs Off-Site Storage Strategy

Jordan, fwiw, the only reason I have offsite storage as supplemental space is because I ran out of cellar space. My plans for my next place, which will likely be in the near future after retirement, will be a cooled wine room. But the issue of drinking treasured bottles that need aging too soon is very real, e.g., those what the hell moments, or you have friends over and let’s go grap one more bottle, etc; that is why I keep some wooden cases around and fill them with that which I do not wish to touch for a while, nail ‘em shut and stick them at the bottom of a pile. I do not think I am uniquely weak here champagne.gif

Thanks everyone! This is very helpful.

Since building a cellar in my house probably isn’t the best option for me, I think I’m going to keep 50 - 100 or so bottles that I plan on drinking within a year at my house and then storing the rest offsite. However, this is the first I’ve heard of offsite horror stories or problems. Can anyone please elaborate on what kind of problems people experience with offsite storage? Is it a security issue or an issue receiving shipments? What should I look for in an offsite storage house to mitigate risks of something unfortunate happening (video surveillance, insurance, etc.)?


This is worst case scenario.

There was another, the name of which I cannot remember. Someone here will chime in (the guy who had license problems because of a prior conviction). Also,


Jordan, I sent you a PM

Wow, these instances of thefts (and natural disaster, to a lesser extent) are absolutely heartbreaking. This reminds me of when I used to spend a good amount of time suing banks/brokers and it was absolutely shocking how people could just steal someone’s life savings to buy a yacht or vacation home or whatever while giving the poor customer completely fraudulent statements.

I’ll definitely be obtaining insurance (once I have a collection worth insuring) and vetting the storage houses for security (and reputation).

I appreciate the recommendation Michael!

Where in SoCal are you? Know of several good ones particularly a few with an active community of folks that drink together regularly

First, you need to decide if you want your wines at home, not at home, or both. If “at home,” then a home built-in cellar is the way to go.

Eurocaves are expensive. For a 1,000 - 2,000 bottle cellar, a bank of Eurocaves is not the way to go. Eurocaves’ initial cost (new) are more than $10 per bottle; that’s an initial cost of $10k - $20k for a collection of the size you anticipate. And then there’s the cost of electricity. And then there’s the cost of upkeep, repairs, and replacement. I store many of my wines at The Wine Vault in Glendale. I’m pretty sure I pay about 50 cents per bottle per year, maybe a touch less; that’s $500 per year for a 1,000 bottle collection. It would cost you at least $10k (initially) to store those same bottles at home in Eurocaves, and that’s not considering the aforementioned factors. It would take you 20 years at $500 per year to get to $10k. Offsite is the better deal, monetarily.

I like my setup: one small wine fridge at home (~40 bottles) and one medium/large wine fridge at home (~225 bottles ?), and the rest at offsite. If I was living in my “forever home,” I’d strongly consider building a cellar because I would enjoy it.

1. How long can I keep bottles in my fridge that sometimes has very low humidity?

The humidity in your small cabinet is not a problem, for short, medium or long term storage. Don’t worry another minute about it.

2. Is offsite storage more reliable than getting a high-end fridge? What is the smarter/recommended cellar strategy?

Big pros and cons here. If you have the room and can afford the cost (which includes repairs and maintenance, which are expensive and often very hard to obtain) of cabinets in your house, that’s the best scenario. You have everything where you can get it without advance planning.

Offsite is a good option if you can’t manage in your home, and depending on how close and convenient the place is. But it’s ton less convenient than bottles in your house. You will go in thinking “no problem, I’ll just swing by and get the wines I want for the weekend,” but it’s a lot harder to anticipate and to remember and to find time than it sounds. At least for me.

A balance many of us strike is to have both. Have as much storage as you can afford/fit at home, then use offsite for additional bottles. If you can be organized and keep the long-term storage wines in the offsite for the most part, then the downside of offsite is greatly reduced. Buy a case of 2016 Bordeaux, put it off site.

3. If I use offsite storage, how far in advance can I take out a bottle and put it in my onsite fridge? Do you take the bottle out the week you plan to use it? The same month? A year?

It depends on the temperature and where you keep the bottles in your house. If you have a place that avoids high temps and direct sunlight and all, they can sit there for 6-12 months no problem. To whatever extent there is a difference between storage at 55 degrees in a Le Cache versus in a sideways cardboard box in your downstairs hall closet, that difference won’t emerge for probably 5-10 years or longer.

A few other things:

  • as indicated above, wine cabinets are really hard to sell or even to get rid of after owning one, so if you can find a used one in decent condition, you’re going to pay pennies on the dollar.

  • installing a wine room in your house probably only makes sense if you’re going to live there a long time, or if you don’t care about the cost adding no value or negative value to your house when you sell it. Maybe it’s different if you own an estate on a hilltop in Napa or something, but otherwise, 95% of potential buyers are going to view it as a liability and cost to remove it, not as an awesome added value feature.

70 case wine locker. Once near filled, Wine Bank calls and says the same size locker next to mine is emptying. Another set of keys I own/rent. Can you evict the third locker tenant?

Cap your addiction, as I do, by NEVER going off-site to store, therein lies the danger.
I have 3 Eurocaves , an under counter U-Line and a walk-in cellar.
When they are full, like now , it’s time to drink, give and party hardy ! [snort.gif]

I think Brian said pretty much a lot of what I would point out. I think the heat in Southern California makes our situation different than many people on this site. Even different than a lot of folks in the Bay Area.

  • Keep in mind everyone’s needs and wants are different. The solution that is right for a lot of people here may not be your solution.

  • One thing not mentioned is that there are also problems with home wine fridges. There are plenty of horror stories with those around as there are with off-sites.

  • It seems you are new to wine so one big thing not really mentioned above is that your tastes are going to change broadly. What you are way into right now is probably not the same as it will be 3 years from now. That means don’t go deep on any kind or style of wine right now.

  • A very big thing is how permanent you are, how big is your place and can you afford to build a real home cellar like underground on a hillside. Is your family situation going to be cool with a large wine fridge? How about three?

  • If you plan on aging wine then an off-site can help quite a bit if you are not going to have a large home unit. You can leave things there and forget them. They won’t be where you can get overly curious and pop bottles ten years too early. Plus, they can handle your wine deliveries so you don’t have to send them to work or worry about them sitting in the sun on your porch.

  • If you plan on rotating through smaller groups of wines and not aging a lot then a home wine fridge or two is probably better for you.

Something that perhaps you may not have thought about yet. Palate shift. It happens to most of us along the way during our wine journey. In 10 years you may not like those wines you have lovingly cellared so long. Be careful to not build your collection too quickly. You could end up doing a lot of horse trading down the road.

I’ve maxed out my home storage to the point that I have 3-4 cases on the floor of the garage awaiting my drinking some space for them in temp controlled storage. Short of building a room I am at critical mass and don’t see the value in paying someone to store my wine. YMMV. I find myself now simply slowing down my buying to only replenishing empty storage space.

I have both onsite and offsite storage. Small under counter wine fridge for daily drinkers. 300 bottle wine storage unit in my office which holds wine I plan to consume within next 24 months. And then offsite for everything else. IMO, offsite is probably the safest bet, but over time the $ add up. If I had the space, I’d build a wine cellar at home. Even better would be passive storage in a basement.

I have both; whatever you end up going with will probably never be enough. Building new 5000 btl cellar; guessing it’ll be full before it’s done.

Similar situation. I wish I had your discipline.

I’m in the beginning stages of this “discipline” and find myself passing right now on things I don’t want to pass on. I’ll simply have to up my drinking game.

Offline at my place, let’s create some storage!

I am in exactly the same situation. We thinned the cellar when we moved to downsize and I lost the debate to build another walk-in cellar in the new place. I’m frequently frustrated by the limitations of the wine fridges we got instead, capacity being but one of them. Getting down low to reach the bottom shelves has also become difficult with some of my orthopedic issues. The long term agers are down there and by the time they’re ready I may need to hire a butler to retrieve them.

There are now 3-4 cases on the floor of the basement waiting for space to open up and I just have to stop buying.

My wife says we have too much wine, but really the problem is too little storage capacity.

$0.50 per bottle a year seems awful cheap. Most I’ve seen are in the $0.20-0.50 per bottle per month.

It is cheap. Most SoCal options are in the $1 - $2 per bottle per year range. The place at which I store has limited hours, and charges an extra fee to accept deliveries on my behalf. I never have my wine delivered to them, as it is easily delivered to my office. And their limited hours are good enough for me. I don’t think I visit offsite more than 4 times a year, and I’m sure it’s sometimes only once or twice.

The range you quoted is very expensive, but I suppose prices vary depending on locale.