The Importance of Surveillance in the Wine Industry
In Peter Mayle’s The Vintage Caper, fine wine collector Danny Roth fell victim to a world-class wine heist with millions of dollars worth of his “liquid treasures” stolen from underneath his nose- out of his own home cellar! The Vintage Caper is a work of fiction but there are examples of massive wine theft in real life that make wine collectors all over the world gasp in dismay.
Here are some of the biggest cases of wine theft in the past few years:
- Last year, thieves broke into Chateau d’Yquem and ran off with almost $170,000 worth (380 half bottles) of the famed sweet wine.
- A wine storage facility employee in Orange County, California was charged with stealing wine over a four-year period (2008-2012) from clients’ lockers. He would replace the bottles with cheaper ones. The total amount lost reached almost $2.7 million! (decanter.com)
- The New York Times reported of a theft involving 450 bottles of wine from a residence in Silicon Valley WITHOUT any evidence of a break in! Among the bottles stolen was a 1959 magnum of Petrus. Total estimate of the loss was at USD100,000.
- Champagne producer Jacques Selosse’s cellar was broken into by thieves who ran off with 4,000 bottles of bubbly with an estimated value of USD512,000 (The LA Times).
- In May of 2011, an East London warehouse was broken into where thieves disabled cameras and alarms and “used a forklift to steal about 400 cases of wine, some of which belonged to private investors.” The total loss was valued at USD1.6 million. (drvino.com)
With wine theft becoming more and more prevalent, the wine industry is now placing a lot of importance on security and surveillance on top of temperature, light and humidity when it comes to fine wine storage.
Since collectors spend a lot of their hard earned money to acquire the best wines they can afford, it is only proper that these wines are kept in a place where they are watched over like a hawk. So, what should collectors look for in a wine storage facility?
- There should be controlled and restricted access to wine vaults and/or lockers. Not everybody should have access to a collector’s private locker/cellar. In most cases, only collectors should have the right to visit their private cellars on their own. Any employee needing access to it should have clearance from management.
- Security provided by the wine storage facility should be unquestionable. Fine wine is money. So it should be guarded like a bank vault. Some of the things to insist on: 24-hour security guard, CCTV and protected entry (either via card, passcode or some sort of recognition system).
- Some collectors find it necessary to have individual security cameras installed in the private cellar itself. This should give collectors an extra sense of security and will allow them to take a “peek” into their collection anytime they want thru a secure online system access.
In Asia, there are a lot of excellent options for fine wine collectors who would rather have their wines in safe-keeping in a place outside of their own homes. The newest facility to offer this is Singapore Wine Vault (SGWV).
Being a part of CWT Group, the world’s leader in integrated solutions for customers in the commodities, chemical and petrochemical, marine, oil & gas, defence and industrial sectors, SGWV takes fine wine storage seriously. The state of the art wine vault located along Fishery Port Road in West of Singapore cost SGD200 million to build and provides a bonded warehouse facility for those who collect wines for appreciation. It is also, by far, the largest storage facility of its kind in the region.
Apart from the standard security measures that have been put in place, SGWV provides collectors with another option to make sure their wines are properly stored and protected. Clients have the choice to design their own cellars, according to their own restrictions and requirements. This is referred to as The Drôme. Collectors who want this level of “personalization” also get an extra layer of security with private cameras in their cellars.