Possession: It’s Mine!!! #MWWC3

There are several definitions of the word “possession” in the dictionary.   Two that fit this post are: (1) Anything that is owned or possessed and (2) The physical control or occupancy of property whether or not accompanied by ownership.

The topic of possession as it relates to wine is the theme of this month’s “Monthly Wine Writing Challenge” as selected by last month’s challenge winner, Sally of “My Custard Pie.”  You can find all the guidelines by going to Sally’s blog.   This monthly challenge is the brainchild of Jeff, commonly known as the “Drunken Cyclist.”  It is open to anyone who wants to write about the selected topic and participate.

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So here’s my story – the reason I am so possessive with my wine:

Several years ago, my husband threw me a surprise birthday party.  One couple that came to the party had led a fairly glamorous lifestyle traveling all over the world with her job.  During these travels, they bought wine from all over the world as well.  When they moved to Winston Salem, they built an amazing wine cellar in their basement.  Hubby and I had been fortunate enough to share wine with our friends from their collection.

For my birthday, these friends brought me a bottle of wine from their private collection.  I was thrilled!  As the alcohol was already flowing and there were way too many people at the house to be able to appreciate this wine, I sat it off to the side to save.  Please don’t take this wrong.  I love sharing my wine with friends.  I just wanted the time to be right for the experience.

The night progressed and some guests had a little too much to drink.  I was outside chatting with a group of people when someone came stumbling out the door with a glass of wine.  The glass was so full it was literally spilling over the top – no room to swirl, sniff, appreciate.  His comment was, “This is some good shit!”  I asked what he was drinking and he responded that he didn’t know what it was, that he had opened a bottle that was sitting on the cabinet.  He had opened MY wine – it was mine!!!  By the time I got into the house, the bottle was empty.  I didn’t get any!  To this day he has no idea that I was so disappointed he had opened my wine.

The next day as I was cleaning up from the party, I decided the I needed to be a little more protective with my wine.  Even though we had a wine fridge, I opted to move all the “special” wines into a closet for safekeeping until I was ready to open and share them.  (No, I don’t have a wine cellar so a dark closet was the next best option.)  So we bought a wine rack for the closet in the spare bedroom.

My wines are now very organized.  My review wines are marked as such and grouped together.  Wines that I am holding onto until a specific year are labeled and grouped by year.  The wine fridge was always stocked (this was in the house we have just sold) and the excess was stored in the closet but readily available for drinking.  And no, I did not let anyone go the closet alone to get wine; however, I would let friends come into the closet to help select the wine for the evening.

I still believe in sharing my wine with friends, but I also like having a little more control over what is opened and when.  After all, it’s mine!

There’s a New Game in Town

Underground Cellar, the new wine start-up founded by technology entrepreneur Jeffrey Shaw, has reconstructed an innovative solution to a problem plaguing the $1.4-Billion direct-to-consumer wine industry: deep-discount websites.  Underground Cellar’s solution is expected to save wineries millions of dollars by steering them away from the deep-discount players like Lot18, Wine.Woot, Wines Til Sold Out, Invino, and WineAccess. Underground Cellar has received big backing despite having 26-year-old Shaw at the helm; quietly raising their seed financing round in May of 2013 and building out an impressive team including naming Jeff Keller as their VP Business Development, who hails from WineAccess, one of Underground Cellar’s key competitors with online wine sales estimated at $25 Million dollars annually. For several years now wineries have looked to these “flash” sites to sell their excess and overstocked wine, but at a huge cost — bastardization of their winery’s brand, reputation, and pricing structure.  The profits for wineries resulting from these flash sales are extremely inconsistent, and do not provide reliable revenue streams sustainable over the long-term. Industry consulting firm VinTank estimates that flash sales now generate in excess of $100-million annually for wineries looking to float through a financial pinch. Shaw realized there is a better way for these wineries to quickly sell their wine without sacrificing their brand and future pricing structure: all they had to do was ditch the discounts and replace them with upgrades. “Instead of discounting wine, we reward buyers with opportunities to be upgraded for free to high-priced wines from their favorite winery’s inventory: often hard-to-get bottles like library wines or bottles from the winemaker’s private stash.  Buyers can increase their upgrade potential through ‘influence points’ which are earned by participating in winery offers, engaging in meaningful discussions, and participating in other site activities,” explained Shaw. Underground Cellar also has the first of its kind storage solution—“CloudCellar” – where buyers can purchase as little as a single bottle of wine from a winery, and store it for as long as they want for free, at Underground Cellar’s perfectly maintained humidity and temperature-controlled wine cellar in Napa Valley. Customers can mix-and-match bottles from different wineries over time, and when they are ready to take delivery they simply log onto the website and select which bottles they want delivered; 6 bottles arrive anywhere in the US for only $5; and 12-bottles are shipped for free. Underground Cellar even boasts being able to deliver wine chilled and ready to drink (nearly anywhere in the US) through a special arrangement with FedEx and Copper Peak Logistics. September 12th marks the public launch of Underground Cellar’s online wine deals marketplace available at their www.UndergroundCellar.com website, launching in tandem with a grand “Mystery Wine Night” event that same evening at the historic General’s Residence at Fort Mason from 6-9pm. Event details and tickets are available at www.MysteryWineNight.com

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