With a lot of economic uncertainty in early 2023, the fine and luxury wine space has remained relatively robust. Charlie Fu, an LA-based lawyer, wine collector, Wine Berserkers moderator, and caviar purveyor, gives us his thoughts on the state of the wine-collecting market. From Dry January, how they find new wines, navigating price increases, and Berserker Day, Charlie provides a good overview of wine collecting from his group's point of view.
Detailed Show Notes:
Charlie's background - LA-based collector, lawyer, caviar purveyor, and @clayfu.wine on Instagram
- He has a few thousand bottles of wine in his collection
Wine collecting group
- ~5-6 people meet for dinners in downtown LA
- Total group ~20-25 collectors
- Mostly early 30s-mid-40s, mostly male
- Focused on Burgundy, Rhone, & Champagne
Dry January has become more common
Finding new wines
- Recommendations from people in the industry, friends (including from IG), other collectors
- Someone they know personally and trust
- More guarded response when it's retailers recommending
- Seeing secondary marketing pricing dip at the top end
- Retail release pricing keeps going up
- Secondary premium key to keeping collectors buying a "relatively good deal"
- He believes incremental price changes are less shocking than large shifts
- People want to know why the price is escalating; communications are critical to significant price changes
- There are thresholds when people stop buying - relative value, secondary pricing, and personal decisions on value
"Everyone's always looking for alternatives to Burgundy"
- e.g., Willamette Valley Pinot and Chard are seen as "Burgundian"
- e.g., Walter Scott as a white Burgundy substitute
Where people buy wine
- Retailers w/ an existing relationship where they offer reasonable pricing
- Brokers & auctions for the secondary market
- Domestic wineries mainly bought direct, "as long as it makes sense"
- Wine.com gets a reasonable allocation of high-end wine, but not flash sale or other sale sites
Mailing list/allocation systems
- People don't like forced purchase quarterly - e.g., the wine club model
- They prefer the optionality of offering systems
- Too much choice in an offer gets challenging - w/ no US vineyard hierarchy (vs. Burgundy), it's hard to distinguish between the wines
Collecting groups has not shown interest in wine investment
- Site upgrade in Aug 2022 took some time to get used to
- Berserker Day - 2023 was the biggest ever
- Now two days, Preview day for "Grand Cru" subscribers
- Tips for wineries:
- Be active before Berserkers Day (e.g., Goodfellow Winery from Willamette Valley was very active and did well on Berserker Day)
- 150+ listings need to have a good offer and stand out with a good description and potentially catchy one
Get access to library episodes
- Natural wines have had their phase
- More small production wineries, often connected to more famous ones, e.g., sons/daughters of prominent winemaking families
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