18th February, 2014 by Lucy Shaw
Fine wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd has partnered with Bordeaux-based company Viniv to allow its clients to make their own barrels of Bordeaux.
BBR has become the exclusive UK and Hong Kong agent for Viniv, which was founded in 2009 by American entrepreneur Stephen Bolger to allow wine lovers to create their own barrels of Bordeaux from select sites across the region.
Two of the 14 vineyard sites used by Viniv are owned by Pauillac-based fifth growth Château Lynch-Bages.
Bolger has enlisted the help of the technical team at the estate to oversee the winemaking, along with consultancy from Eric Boissenot.
Those interested in taking part need to commit to a minimum of one barrel. Able to decide their level of participation, during the two-year process members can participate in key winemaking decisions, from selecting vineyards and varieties to composing their blend, choosing a brand name and designing a bespoke label.
“You get all kinds of clients, from the Canadian guy who ended up buying a winery in South Africa after doing three vintages with us to the Russian oligarch who wants the most expensive wine we can make to give to his mistress,” Bolger told the drinks business at an event yesterday to mark the Berry’s partnership.
With one barrel producing 288 bottles, when the wine is ready it is shipped to the client, with UK and Hong Kong-based clients able to store it with Berry Bros.
“The chance to make your own fine wine is a remarkable way to develop your appreciation and understanding of one of life’s greatest pleasures,” BBR’s Bordeaux buyer, Max Lalondrelle, said.
Prices start at £6,900 a barrel depending on the vineyards selected for the blend. The price does not vary each year to reflect the quality of the vintage in Bordeaux.
In addition to the cost of the winemaking experience, customers have to pay VAT and duty on their wine.
Viniv currently has around 400 clients, 50% of which are from Europe, 30% from the US and Canada and 20% from Asia, with 60% of the company’s revenue coming from repeat business.