Saturday, 14 July 2012

Selling Wine - it's a tough market but still possible!

I have accumulated far too much wine over the last decade.  The pleasure of 'securing' some amount of great wine was alluring and I felt it difficult to pass on really good deals.  Especially after having been denied access to good wines, good choice, and good value when living in Qatar, I came back to Australia very excited (probably too excited!) and was presented with a plethora of great choices.

About six months ago, I had finally inventoried all of my wine and realized I had way, way too much!  I looked at several options for selling wine.  I looked at Langton's as a method of selling off a lot of wine, but did not like their service or attitude, and especially did not like the prices and low clearance rates they were getting.  One reason for the lack of sales I believe is they charge exorbitant fees to both the seller and buyer!  While they have previously represented a premier brand for buying and selling wines in an appreciating market, I am not sure their model is all that successful in today's marketplace.

We keep a cellar (two actually and it is expensive which is why I want to sell off a lot to get back into one cellar) at Wine-Ark.  I love the service there, meeting other wine collectors and the attitude and service from the local staff in Chatswood, NSW where we store our wine.  We put 60 bottles up on their Wine Exchange though and in six months, have had only one sale of four bottles!  Things just aren't moving.

I then decided to take things into my own hands and did an email distribution and put up some posters advertising wine for sale.  Through this process, I sold off about 500 bottles, plus about 5 bottles of the 150 year old Grand Mariner.  This worked quite well, and I got decent prices (considering the market), but only addressed a limited potential following.

However, through the benefits of social media, over the last year, I have developed a good relationship with Mark Wickman, another real fan of wine and owner of Wickman's Fine Wine Auctions.  (This is a link to Wickman's FaceBook page.  His website where all the action occurs is Wickman's Fine Wine Auction website.)  I have been monitoring Mark's monthly auctions and have been impressed by the manner in which it is conducted, and especially his clearance rates.  There are several reasons I believe Mark does so well, one being that he charges far less commission on selling his wine than other wine auction houses, and another is that he is a really helpful and nice guy.  He is always willing to take the time to share his knowledge about wine.  Mark also now has a YouTube channel WickWineAuction where he shares a lot of his wine knowledge.

Mark is also realistic about establishing the right price point for the wine and ensuring that both the buyer and seller are happy with the transaction.  It is a terrible market for selling wine these days.  Most of us have too much debt, the global financial crisis continues to take a bit bite out of everyone, massive job lay-offs in investment banking and other industries have far too many people 'dumping' wine to turn what they can into cash.  It is important if you want to sell off some of your wine, you need to be realistic regarding the price you can get for it.  However, Langton's and others have not seemed to adjusted for this and their customers are suffering for it.

I have been researching different channels to sell my wine and am now sending a palette of wine to Mark to auction off for me over the next couple of months.  I have been monitoring his results and also have checked him out in the industry and found he is both a very likable and high integrity individual.  He also goes to extremes to ensure the provenance of his wine which is really important.  I bought three bottles of the 1992 Grant Burge Mesach from another wine auction house only to find the bottles were not stored properly and hardly worth what I paid for them.

If you are buying or selling wine, check out Wickman's Fine Wine Auctions!  I have looked at and used a number of channels for selling wine and believe Wickman's is the best!  Possible ways of selling off wine include:
  • Using Wickman's Fine Wine Auctions
  • Using another wine auction such as Langton's
  • Use Wine-Ark Wine Exchange
  • Selling though want ads, listings, etc.
  • Trading wine or bartering other goods
It is a tough market to move wine, but Wickman's I believe is one of the best ways to do so.

[Note:  Like all of my recommendations and criticisms of people and products in the wine industry, I have no commercial relationship to any of them, including Wickman's.  I am just sharing my experiences and likes / dislikes with others who may be interested.]

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