For ultra-high net worth individuals, having a cellar may be somewhat of a normal, everyday feature in the depths of their state of the art homes. For many of us, having a wine cellar would be something we could only dream of….until the task comes of having to manage the space and it’s sweet, precious contents. For wealthy entrepreneurs, celebrities and the like, they have the resources to be able to palm this task off on to a cellar manager; otherwise known as a sommelier or wine butler. The job of a sommelier is by no means a simple task — sure he/she will have the underpinning knowledge about the wine and have a general idea of where the bottle of ‘’98 Lafite’ is stored, but in reality those with a love of money and wine will more than likely have a cellar with enough space to fit a family of four inside; maybe more. So with a big responsibility on management and keeping up to speed with new arrivals it can be an extremely overwhelming task, even for the most seasoned sommelier.
It’s 2016 and in terms of technology there is an application or e-management system for just about everything in the luxury lifestyle niche, this includes wine cellar management. I had the opportunity to speak with Greg Rosner of ‘eSommelier’ about their innovative simplification of the wine cataloging process.
“We started six years ago, primarily developing inventory management systems but realised that in this niche space where collectors have very sophisticated wine collections who don’t really know what wine they have, nor where do they have it stored in their cellar nor what the drink dates of their wine is, how much they paid for the wine, how much the wine is worth now that it has stewed in their cellar for 10 years. We help clients manage what we call liquid assets.
We wanted to create an interface which easily allows collectors to manage and enjoy their collection, whether they are in their cellar, whether they are on their yacht, whether they are travelling – they can log in with an iPad or laptop and manage or look at their collection”
Technology has come on leaps and bounds and has featured heavily in the way we manage our assets on a day-to-day basis, and the reality is that our valuables would be extremely difficult to manage without access to today’s feature rich, modern tech. Sommeliers, wine butlers and household managers can have an extremely difficult task on their hands when it comes to the cataloging of a thousand or more bottles of wine.
“The typical problem is that house managers may keep the cellar listing in a time-consuming Microsoft excel format which may include how much wine they have in the principal’s country home or city home and the biggest headache is managing that excel sheet. Every time the house manager takes out 3 bottles he or she would then have to open up that excel sheet and subtract that wine from the collection and then wonder how many bottles of that 1992 Chateau Haute Brion does the principal have, were two bottles taken yesterday or last month – this creates aggravation between the house manager and the principal”
eSommelier has been built and designed for those who are not comfortable with using excel. Spreadsheets are not for the faint-hearted and even those who use computers on a daily basis still struggle to come to terms with the steep learning curve. This application eliminates the manual-intensive nature of cataloguing wine and is something which can be used by a novice right out of the proverbial box.
An intriguing feature of eSommelier is that the house manager or owner can easily find out the value of the principal’s collection when requested to do so, or go into the cellar and find exactly where the 2010 Caymus is stored in a few seconds. An intelligent feature also keeps tabs on the current price of the wine which is currently in the cellar – and displays the value in the most simplistic of ways. Once the information button is pressed, two columns will pop up and show the user how much was paid for the wine and how much the wine is worth at that particular moment, this is achieved by the application pinging the server for real time updates.
Private management systems are not only popular amongst private individuals, but wealthy hotel chains are also using them. Shangri-La hotels and resorts now use a hotel version of Esommelier in 42 of their properties to allow the tracking of their wine, how much they have spent and how much they should sell it for.
“Before using Esommelier, a customer went in to one of our Hotel customers just to buy their whole inventory of their 1998 Domaine Leroy Musigny and when they finally paid for the wine and left the hotel, the house manager made a phone call to headquarters to let them know about the bizarre purchase. It turned out that the hotel bought this wine five years ago but hadn’t updated the price to the current value which meant they didn’t understand the true, real time value of those bottles. They didn’t want that to happen again!” Private collectors sometimes want to sell some of their wine and the system helps them estimate the value.
For every paid in-home management system, there will always be a company offering a similar application at no cost. Many people raise their eyebrows at free applications as it’s pretty obvious what they are going to get in terms of constant harassment by 3rd party advertisements as well as the lack of privacy data security.
“The free systems aren’t really systems as much as they are a web browser that you can populate your own wine in and if you wanted to cobble together a computer, a scanner, a bar-code printer – in essence, a DIY system. That all takes time and in the end, you are still dealing with a free system that when you’re looking up your 2009 Petrus on the browser, you’re seeing a hair colour for men advertisement which is not something that someone with an collection worth £50,000 – £100,000 is going to want to deal with. Also, their wine data is not private, so if privacy is something that is important to people, they are not going to want to go via the free route.
Aside from being ad-free, full supported and securing your privacy, the eSommelier touch-screen terminal comes with a wireless bar-code scanner and a wine bar-code printer. All the data is completely backed up and is available for usage offline – that means if your internet connection is down, you will still be able to find that bottle of 2007 Screaming Eagle and where it is in your cellar, unlike the free systems which are only internet-based. At a price of $3,995.00 USD you get the hardware as mentioned above as well as the technical support and the nightly backups. It may seem like a large amount to the lay person, but for a collector of wine who wishes to implement a certain type of structure in his or her cellar, know what he has and when it’s best to drink, it would be an ideal investment and allow for the continued development of the collection in a more regimental fashion.
If your wine collection is in desperate need of having a system in place or you are master and commander of your principal’s cellar, then eSommelier is an avenue worth exploring and could be a worthwhile liquid asset investment. Visit eSommelier’s website at www.esommelier.com or arrange an appointment with Greg@esommelier.com who can run you through any specifics relating to your liquid asset management.