Underground Cellar (wine seller/retailer) OUT OF BUSINESS

Same experience for me. In the early days I had some great upgrades and good service, then it completely deteriorated as you describe. I also had the 1 year wait for many bottles that never materialized.

Too bad. It is a fun concept and interesting business model. Producers never have to erode their price to unload extra stock, it just becomes an ‘upgrade.’

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I interviewed with them a few months ago and learned they had made improvements to getting wines delivered in a timely fashion. It is a very different model though they appear to be successful and growing. Tough to argue with that.

Not happy with this seller either. Got a $100 coupon if I spent $150+, so I said why not. I ordered $160 worth (5 bottles $32 each), except the “value” is total nonsense. I am then informed I got $210 value for $60. One of the wines I got is the 2012 Poesia blend ($63 value). It was the wine they said I got the biggest upgrade on. I already own 2008s, and 2013s. I paid $31.68 for the 13s after shipping and tax. One store I see has the 2012 now for $29.99. I don’t know the other wines, but based on their valuations Poesia is 50% more valuable than the next most valuable wine I got. After shipping I am paying about $20 per bottle for $20 bottles of wine on average and that is after a $100 coupon code. I would have been paying $40 per bottle for wines worth $20 on avg.

I figured I would skim through more today because I just got an email about Italian wines, which is more in line with my knowledge. There is a 1.77% chance to get the 2008 Serpico which they value at $65. I am a big fan of Serpico. I paid $35.84 after tax and shipping on the 2008 bottles I have from elsewhere and wine searcher shows an average price of $52 currently.

They also have another wine I like in the Italian collection. 2018 Podere San Cristoforo Carandelle Maremma. Solid affordable Sangiovese. I paid $18.64 for 2017s at a local store that has OK prices. The site is telling me that is a $40 value, and it costs $33 per bottle to buy in and hope for that “upgrade” to a $19 bottle.

I am not going to list the rest, but the rest in the Italian offer are equally or even more extreme. I heard about this site on a podcast and it talked about “democratization” of wine. This feels more like taking advantage of people who dont know anything about these wines.

My apologize for the rant, but this is very very disappointing that it could be marketed as democratization, and yet be functioning the way it is.


Love those adds on Facebook.

This site is fundamentally dishonest (IMO):

overstating the value of the wines you are most likely to receive, while simultaneously focusing on top tier wines that the average buyer has almost zero chance of receiving - seems very deceptive

Just like going to a casino, I would only purchase from this site if you think the entertainment value of having a slim chance of getting a great wine compensates for the likelihood that the house will usually wine (i.e. you will receive over-priced wines 99% of the time)

My other concern is what evidence does one have that they are actually upgrading anyone to the “great bottles”

this site seems designed to separate the wine gambler from his/her money


So. I will say that people in this thread make great points and have valid concerns about this business model. I personally felt the same way and would not have been likely to make a purchase from this retailer, except for using a referral credit to purchase 2 “bordeaux” for $33 each, - $50 credit = $8 per bottle.

Having “won”, I expected the aforementioned issues of bottle substitution, delivery delays, hassles in general to come up but to my surprise everyone there was extremely responsive and I was even upgraded to 2 day air shipping at no cost.

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Awesome! Congrats on landing that. But even by underground cellar’s estimations, you are an 8 in 10,000 customer. The other 9,992 in 10,000 aren’t getting that. Reminds me of a casino comping a room, so they can win their money back.

But the problem isn’t really the winning scenarios. Unlike casinos, they advertise that there aren’t any losing scenarios and they make that appear to be true by posting false valuations, hoping that they are getting consumers who aren’t knowledgeable enough to notice.

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Yeah I mean, as I said I’m not disputing any of those points.

Some posters above just said “never seen anyone actually win the unicorns” and I thought I would share my experience. I make no claims that my experience is representative of what to expect using this retailer.


I posted previously about UG in a different thread. My experience has been mixed for sure - some great bottles and a lot of duds. I did win one of the top bottles once (a 2002 Jadot Corton Charlemagne) which ended up being completely oxidized. To their credit, one of their somms called me and offered to send a replacement of my choice, and I went with a 2018 Bionic Frog. In about 10 years I’ll find out whether it’s corked or not :slight_smile:

Shipping and customer service has always been fast and responsive.

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Their CEO notes on this cast that they deploy an algorithm that determines who gets ‘upgrades’ and for what amount. They must have realized Carter’s social media Klout when they sent him the Lafite!

They also note that Underground Cellar wants to be regarded (and valued) as a disruptive tech company as they have hired software engineers and data scientists, and not as a lowly discount mystery wine retailer.

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I got a $100 off $150 coupon recently and decided to give it a go, primarily out of curiosity and secondarily because I didn’t have any cellar defenders. Since they offer free shipping for every 12 bottles, my rationale was to pick a fairly low priced offer (in my case, $29/bottle), buy 12 ($348), get discounted $100 ($248), and get 12 bottles shipped to me for free at just under $21/bottle with a purported chance at Harlan and a couple other “unicorns”.

As far as the actual experience goes, not terrible. They tell you immediately on purchase exactly what wines you’re getting, a lot of them being wineries and vineyards I’ve never heard of with no secondary market rates. Most of the bottles that were valued in the $50-60 range were wines that cost exactly what the value was direct from the brand (for instance: one of the bottles I got was Site Red Wine Larner Vineyard, which was valued at $55, costs $55 on sitewineco.com, and there is literally no other place to buy it from online and no tasting notes on any of the major wine tracking/search sites). I got one bottle that was “valued” at $90 and much to my amusement, it was the one bottle I could not find any information about. For each deal they have going, they list out all of the potential wines you can get if you purchase, and clicking on each one will give you details/specifics about that bottle. This $90 bottle was the only one with a dead link. I punched it into Google: nothing. Hilariously, the brand is called “Alchemy Estates”, 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. Alchemy indeed, I can’t find a single bit of information about this bottle. Seems like a tongue-in-cheek bottle rebrand/relabel of a different wine? There’s gotta be some kind of funny action going on here…

All that to say, they shipped all 12 bottles three days after I purchased, and they arrived well packed and intact 2 days after they shipped it. So as far as delivery goes, I did not deal with any of the shipping shenanigans I’ve read about UC. I now have 12 bottles of wine that I know nothing about and can open when I have guests that I do not want to share my cellar with. This was my first and last purchase with UC, fun experiment I guess.

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I don’t think you’ll know the full results of the experiment until you taste a good portion of those bottles.

My hunch is that if one tried to order bottles directly from the purported winery, it would end up being fulfilled by UC.

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Interesting thread…I will not buy in as I have lots of vino

A partner in a brokerage was their first wine buyer.
He had distributors stop by with their closeouts and bargained for even better pricing, mostly unknown wines. Distributors loved it as a path out of a bad or forced buy.
Met the owners at their Millenium Tower apartment in SF, did not feel their deal “was on the level”. They leaned on my partner heavily.

Maybe they bought their apartment on a closeout ‘deal’ too.


Because the hook brings you back,
I ain’t telling you no lie

Everyone has their marketing ploy from Rimmerman on down. Someone will win at Underground Cellar but the odds are pretty remote it will be you. So u have to feel comfortable with the basic buy.

Wine “savings” are touted throughout the industry. Many of them are hyped. Caveat emptor.



Wow, and shocking, SHOCKING I tell you, that the ponzi scheme strikes again.

I feel partially responsible for this…selling me that 08 lafite for 8 dollars couldn’t have been good for their bottom line.