Collecting wine is a labor of love. Avid collectors pride themselves in sampling from the best vintners, paying top-dollar for premium years, and amassing high-value collections that they can confidently draw from on special occasions. Many collectors recognize the significant value of each bottle they bring home, whether due to its limited supply, age, or overall quality. However, even when collectors take adequate steps to design and install high-end wine storage systems, this doesn’t mean full protection. This is especially true when cases, bottles, or shelves have to be packed up and moved. With over 40 million Americans moving annually, and countless logistics and storage concerns to consider, taking the time to evaluate the safety of your wine collection is always a worthwhile endeavor.
Flood Protection and Your Wine Collection
While you might not view your wine purchases as investments, many large-sized wine collections have considerable resale value. Much like any other portfolio, diversifying where your assets are held is often a good idea. If you store your best wines at ground level or below it in a wine cellar, you stand to lose everything in a single flood event. As your collection grows, consider installing alternative storage areas. This way, one flood won’t wipe your entire collection out. When wine cellars are created at the basement level, installing an emergency sump pump and a backup generator is prudent. After any flood event that leaves wine stores virtually unharmed, empty, air, and dry the area to maintain humidity and temperature control measures.
Flood Insurance and Wine Collections
Even with a sump pump in place, there’s no guarantee that a major flood won’t leave every bottle in a downstairs area submerged and ultimately ruined. So, how do you properly cover your wine? To start, you want to draft an inventory list that includes the name, description, and price for each bottle. When drafting your inventory list, be sure to include:
- Photos of individual bottles
- Information pertaining to any special precautions taken to protect the value and viability of each bottle
- Details on the storage location
This list will help you have an informed conversation with your insurance agent. Bear in mind, however; if you’re constantly building your collection, you should be constantly updating your list, and regularly adjusting your coverage limits. It’s additionally important to note that the average homeowner’s insurance policy won’t provide protection for your wine collection. This remains true whether your stock undergoes flood damaged or a breakdown in temperature and humidity control equipment. For any significant wine collection, you’ll need to bind a personal articles floater or a standalone personal articles floater policy.
How Hurricanes Can Affect Wine Collections
Any policy covers hurricane damage that protects you against flood-related losses in your wine collection. However, to avoid these losses, taking efforts to hurricane-proof your wine cellar could prove doubly worthwhile. According to reports, billionaire Richard Branson took shelter in his wine cellar with staff and friends during hurricane Irma. Neither people nor property sustained any noteworthy harm. Creating a storage area that doubles as a safe space during disaster events is an excellent choice when moving into any hurricane-prone region.
Power Outages and Your Wine Cooler
The easiest way to protect your wine collection from potential damage caused by power outages is by installing a whole-house backup generator. This is especially important to do if you have multiple, electrically powered appliances supporting or protecting your wines. You might have an in-floor or free-standing wine cooler, and a temperature and humidity control system in the cellar. With a whole-house backup electrical supply, all of this important equipment will enjoy continuous functioning. As soon as grid-supplied power shuts off, the circuit switches over to the generator so that energy doesn’t back-feed into the system, and nothing fully shuts down. Once utility from your power company is restored, this setup will instantly revert back to normal energy flow.
Earthquakes and Shattered Bottles or Tipped Racks and Shelves
Angled wood racks or metal wine racks with locking doors are two storage options that tend to stand up well during earthquakes. With these systems, your bottles will certainly shake and sway a bit, but they won’t fall to the ground and shatter. During major earthquakes, you’ll also want the doors to any wine refrigerators to lock securely as well.
Fluctuations in Temperature
Wine owner responsibilities include temperature and humidity regulation. There are few events that should cause problems in these areas if you’ve got the right regulating equipment set up, and a reliable back-up generator in place. Failure to regulate either of these things can result in product spoilage, aesthetic damage to labels, loss of labels, damaged corks, and more. Although some of your wine may remain drinkable, it loses most or all of its intrinsic and resale value.
Air Quality Problems
Maintaining suitably high air quality is just as important as maintaining moderate temperature and humidity levels. Even unopened bottles of wine can be damaged by foul, pervasive odors. Bottles stored long-term can also be damaged by any surrounding air particles and any aromas that they carry, whether unpleasant or downright enchanting. This is why aromatic woods are rarely, if ever, used for wine racks. When choosing a temperature regulating system, look for one that has air purification capabilities as well. Invest in an air filter that has a MERV rating between 10 and 12, and have this equipment regularly serviced. Keep in mind that recurring problems with air quality in low-lying areas of the home may be indicative of mold. Have mold problems in wine storage areas professionally mitigated and treated right away.
Moderating Light and Vibration
Light breaks down wine and its unique flavor profiles. This breakdown occurs at a much more rapid pace when the offending light is UV light. This is why collectors typically store wine in dark, below-ground areas, or in coolers with special types of non-destructive interior lighting. If you haven’t designed and installed specialized wine storage, keeping your growing collection of wines in a dark and relatively cool place is the best temporary solution.
Vibration is also something that you want to minimize. Don’t store your wine in an area that rattles each time the garage door goes up, or an appliance turns on. When choosing a rack style, always look for options that will limit movement as much as possible. These options will usually provide the best protection during earthquakes, hurricanes, and other earth-moving events.
You’ve paid a veritable fortune to amass an impressive collection of quality wines. Making sure that your growing stock is sufficiently protected is key. If you have questions about your current coverage or want to learn more about how to safeguard your wine, get in touch with us today to speak with an IMA Select Representative.
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