As many of you know, I have been clearing wine out of my cellar. Once I had inventoried the total amount I had, and also realized that my tastes had changed somewhat over the last decade, I realized I needed to get down to a more reasonable sized cellar. Plus I made a commitment to myself that I could not buy any more wine until I I had cut the cellar in half or down even further.
This is really a bad time to sell wine, as there are far more sellers than buyers and prices are quite depressed. I have been fortunate to sell about 1,500 bottles direct to friends who know I have done a good job buying quality wines in the past and storing them well. For the first 600 bottles I sold, I was getting between 90% and 120% what I initially paid for the wines. Yet, my friends were getting a good deal as (1) I usually secured the wines at a better price point than they could have, and (2) I put some age on the wines and these were now some special wines not available through normal retail, or only available at higher price tags at auction.
I then move an additional 900 bottles by offering a 25% discount on the wines and sold quite a lot over a one-month period. With the discount, I was now getting between 70% and 95% the price I had originally paid. I also sold about 50 bottles through the Wine-Ark Exchange (now run by Langton’s), and got about 90% what I paid and had to pay an additional 12.5% commission over that (as did the buyer). And the wines on the Exchange did not sell fast at all. I think I have cleared about 35% of the wines and have been doing this for eight months now.
I had been following Wickman’s Fine Wine Auction for 18 months and was impressed with how much stock he moved and how he achieved the best buy and price point for buyer and seller. I worked with Mark to go through my inventory, and he gave me an appraisal of the likely Reserve prices he would establish and the range each bottle would likely sell for. I then packaged up 400 bottles to send to him for his October auction.
Mark was also insistent about the provenance of the wine to ensure it has only been stored under the best conditions. He asked me to take pictures of the how the wine was properly stored, and provide the history of where I bought and stored the wine. For 95% of my wines, he gave me the second highest rating he has. Had I worked harder, and pulled from my files the purchase records of the wines I bought direct from the cellar doors and their receipt in Wine-Ark (where I store all my wine), I expect I could have got the highest provenance rating he had for about 85% of my wine.
Mark then sent me a final listing of Reserve prices and while lower than I was hoping for some of the wine, it was clear that he knew the market far better than I did and how to move the most product in a tough market. Therefore, I went with his recommendations (except in one case for two bottles which did not sell BTW!).
For the one-week auction, I was amazed at the results! We sold 56% of the wine at an average price of $44 per bottle. I had evaluated my stock overall at $50 per bottle and it is true that Wickman selected and was trying to move some of my more expensive wine, but overall this was still a great result. And I sold almost $10,000 of wine in one week, which would have been far harder and taken more effort to sell doing it myself. I was hoping to move between $2,500 – $4,000 worth and did far better than that. And I still have the November auction to sell most of the rest.
I am definitely looking forward to the results of the November auction, and may also look at sending Wickman another 150 – 200 bottles for his auctions starting up again in 2013.. It is very tough selling wine in today’s market and receiving a good price for it, but Wickman understands the market extremely well and certainly knows how to move wine! I had far better results than expected because I trusted in him and his knowledge of the market.
If you need to move some serious volume and have been having trouble with Langton’s, or other big-named players, then I suggest you give Wickman’s Fine Wine Auctions a call!