Wine Vault of the Desert has existed in Palm Desert, Calif., for almost 10 years.
Taya Gray, Palm Springs Desert Sun
Tucked away in a warehouse in an industrial area of Palm Desert is the Wine Vault, a unique business to the Coachella Valley where connoisseurs can not only store their wine, but also receive pickup and delivery service and have corkage fees waived at participating restaurants.
“The service we provide is so unique, and it’s so helpful for the person who’s into wine, even if you’re casually into wine, just keeping track of the wine is a very, very difficult thing for anybody,” said owner Ralph Iannuzzi.
Iannuzzi and partner Jack Dixon opened the Wine Vault 10 years ago in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, with office area, with a special cooling system.
They define their business as unique from other wine storage facilities, set apart by such client services as an inventory of every bottle a person brings in and takes out; at-home pickup and delivery; and an ability to ship and receive items for clients.
“When people think of a wine storage facility, they typically think of a locker and a key,” Dixon said.
Of special interest is the inventory list the Wine Vault keeps for each of its clients, detailing what they bring in and what they take out, along with the name and type of wine; winery from which it came; and vintage year.
At this time of year, people email for a copy of their inventories, so they can determine what they’re going to buy for the season.
“So, inventory is a premier service,” Iannuzzi said, along with the receiving of shipments which keeps clients from having to wait at home for the delivery.
Inside every case of wine, each bottle has a tag attached to the neck.
“With our system, we know exactly where every bottle is,” Dixon said.
To retrieve some wine, a client can email or call the Wine Vault and staff will pull the bottle or case and have it ready to pick up when the client arrives, Dixon said.
The Wine Vault started with about 10 clients and now has nearly 900, and stores about 12,500 cases, with a capacity for about 30 to 40 more clients, Dixon said.
“Our biggest client has 3,900 bottles,” Dixon said.
Clients include a few restaurants and country clubs, but the majority — about 98% — are private connoisseurs.
“We do a lot of what we call summer storage, and this year I think we had over a hundred clients that did summer storage with us,” Dixon said, adding that they will pick up and deliver the wine back when the client returns.
Waived corkage fees
The warehouse is specially designed with about $85,000 worth of refrigeration and humidifying equipment.
The proper temperature for storing wine is 55 degrees and the humidity is kept between 65% and 70%, which can be difficult to maintain in a home, Dixon said.
“The humidity is very important and out here in the desert it’s kind of tricky,” he said.
An ultrasonic humidifier is used, which uses high-frequency sound vibrations to produce an extra fine water mist that moisturizes the air.
“And that’s the best thing I ever bought,” Dixon said, adding it cost about $1,300 and saves the company about $500 per month on electricity — paying for itself in about 2½ months.
It’s what wineries in Napa use in storing their barrels of wine, he said.
If there is a power outage, Dixon pointed to a diesel generator that will turn itself on within about 8 seconds of the electricity going out in the warehouse — maintaining the temperature and humidity levels.
When the power is restored, the generator turns itself off, he said.
Storage at the Wine Vault currently costs $4 per case, per month and that will be going up Jan. 1 to $4.80 — the first price increase in almost two years, Dixon said.
Even with the increase, Dixon said, “We are by far the least expensive facility … of the top 20 storage facilities in the United States — and none of those have a restaurant program.”
The Wine Vault has a relationship with several restaurants throughout the Coachella Valley that will waive corkage fees for its members — a $20 to $30 savings on the meal tab. Restaurants are a mix of family style to the high-end, including Cuistot, Lulu California Bistro and Wally’s Desert Turtle.
“That is a giant perk. People love that,” Dixon said.
A client must store a minimum of four cases at the Wine Vault to attain membership status that gets corkage fees waived, he added.
“It’s a wonderful program that’s expended tremendously since we started it about eight years ago,” Iannuzzi said.
Restaurants recognize there is a lot of competition and the Wine Vault’s clients frequently dine out.
“These are people who collect wine and they want to bring their wine because often the wine they are storing is not on a wine list,” Iannuzzi said.
“The restaurants already have a corkage fee, so all they are giving up is the corkage fee in lieu of maybe a new client bringing in more people and coming more often,” he said. “So, it works out for both.”
For more information about the Wine Vault, visit the website at https://wvotd.com/, email email@example.com or call (760) 345-3000.
Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas covers the cities of La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (760) 778-4694. Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherry
Read or Share this story: https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/local/palm-desert/2019/12/02/wine-vault-palm-desert-stores-inventories-client-collections/3975396002/