Cork Vault, a wine storage facility and lounge, opened slowly and quietly for the first year, but since January business has exploded.
“We wanted to make mistakes with people we were close to, so we opened by word of mouth. I don’t think you can prevent mistakes, just fix them quickly,” co-founder Bill Bounds told the Agenda. “But after doing word of mouth, we actually did something simple: turned on Google AdWords. Since January I haven’t been able to keep up.”
In January of this year they tripled their storage capabilities, thinking it would last them through end of 2019.
They filled up in two months, so they doubled it again.
Now the 2,000-square-foot space, which can hold 55,000 bottles of wine, is nearly full.
Cork Vault is sneaky cool.
The discreet wine storage facility has a gated and screened fence entry. There’s no signage, which gives it an underground type feel.
Once inside Cork Vault, you’ll find a lounge space with a bar, sitting area, pool table, TV and a dining table, so you can drink your wines there if you want to. And they have wine sharing dinners where members can bring their favorite bottle (or pull it from their locker) and share with other enthusiasts.
How it works: If you have wine to store, you lease a locker space in a temperature-controlled room. When you sign up with them, Bill will come to your house and pick up your wine or you can have it shipped directly there if you’re importing/having it delivered. You can access the wine at any time — all you need is your thumb print to get in.
Pricing: It costs $590 a year to lease a locker that fits 18 cases and $750 for a locker that fits 27 cases. They have other custom options, too. You can also have them keep track of your inventory for $1 a bottle.
Who uses it: Bill said in general, everyone who uses it is a wine collector, which means it’s their passion. And they need storage for two reasons: either they don’t have any or much at home or they have a fancy walk-in and still need more. Wine usually tastes best when you let it age, so a lot of people will keep bottles in storage for 10 years and keep bottles that are ready to serve at home.
Technology: The setup is pretty cool. You use your thumb print to get in the building and the temperature-controlled room. If you have trouble, Bill can let you in remotely.
Also, “our entire system is redundant,” Bill said. Basically any part of the cooling technology that could be duplicated is. Even if something goes out, there’s always backup — your wine will always be chilled appropriately. They use the same technology that grocery stores use for their freezers/fridges.
What’s next: The immediate next step will be maxing out capacity at the current space. They have another 2,600-square-foot room in the current building that they plan to fill with more wine lockers by the end of 2019, early 2020. In total, they’ll be able to hold more than 100,000 bottles of wine when the second room is complete. After filling their current space, Bill said they’ll thinking about expanding elsewhere in Charlotte.