Vint’s new MW shares expansion plans for fine wine investment
US fine wine company Vint’s new head of wine Adam Lapierre MW, talks to db about the company’s exciting expansion plans, the potential in South America for investment grade fine wine, and the importance of leveraging data to optimise financial returns.
Following Vint’s establishment in the US in 2019, the company is setting its sights on expansion, and recently appointed Lapierre from Vinfolio to head up its wine team to oversee the expansion of the business.
Lapierre is working with Vint’s senior wine specialist, certified sommelier Billy Galanko to build Vint’s network of suppliers and producers for investment grade wines, implementing new processes and procedures as the scale and complexity of the business increases.
“One big area of focus is to increase supplier network and engage directly with producers,” Lapierre explains in an exclusive interview with db. “To date it’s been working with trusted merchants in the UK and US but we have started working with negociants in Bordeaux, and also engaging with producers to identify unique opportunities.”
“One of the things that is interesting as it relates to our collections today, is the real focus on identifying wines for price appreciation,” he explains. “Our primary focus is definitely what we call the core or trending regions of the world as they relate to investment grade fine wine – Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Tuscany and Piedmont are all major focal points, Napa and other areas in the rest of the world are also important.”
However other wine-growing regions are ripe for exploration, he argues, and will become increasingly important.
“One of the things that we’re also very interested in is identifying value in emerging regions,” Lapierre told db. “For example, we’re engaging with some iconic producers in South America, where we feel that quality to price ratio is very high.”
“Eventually the market will discover that value proposition in a more significant way. So for us, it’s focusing on the core, where we have a lot of competence and historical price performance and the value proposition and the global demand, but also trying to start to engage in these emerging regions a bit more.”
Lapierre says he has already had “meaningful conversations” with producers in Napa, as well as in Chile and Argentina, and established strong connections now with sixty major negociants who are focused on the US market, as well as direct connections for a lot of Chateaux owners in Bordeaux following this year’s en primeur campaign.
Once the team have grown the supply pipeline, this will naturally accelerate its customer acquisition activities, Lapierre argues.
“A big focus for us now is creating partnerships with additional platforms that will help us reach a larger number of investors and engaging with larger investors on the whole,” he explains.
The team is also working to build a framework for defining the various elements and key attributes that make specific wines attractive as investments.
Vint previously told db that investors buy shares in the curated wine collections which they hold for between 3-7 years, after which they can be sold and the investors receive their pro-rata distribution of the proceeds.
Lapierre pointed out it wasn’t “rocket science” but the quality versus price, vintage critical acclaim, historical price performance and scarcity or liquidity on the market were key elements to consider in terms of investment potential.
“As we, as we move forward, one of the things that we want to do is become is leverage our data even more significantly to create models around understanding and identifying fair market value for specific lines.”
The other important point is identifying the optimal exit timing.
“This is something that’s very interesting, because fine line, really, the pricing tends to move in a sort of step change fashion and a lot of that’s driven by consumption,” he explains. “To the extent that means we can leverage data to identify the optimal times to exit, which is something that we’re very interested in. We’re working with some folks who’ve done a lot of work on this type of modelling, and predictive analytics specific to the wine market.”
Although Lapierre acknowledges that take it takes time to understand and identify relationships between data and market behaviour, the team are increasingly leveraging tech to discover these aspect as part of growing the businesses. By understanding the market and gleaning qualitative understanding of specific wines, they can direct the team effectively and gain the most of their customers.
“The company just exited some of the first assets that were purchased, we sold some champagnes in the market and delivered 20% plus return on those investments in only a year, so I think the methodology is good. The plan is to make it even better and to be able to scale it,” he said.
And leveraging data in a new way might also help the team tease out themes for curated collections that might not be obvious.
“We want to provide a cohesive portfolio that is understandable to the investor and that ultimately gives them the ability to understand how they’re diversifying their investments over time,” he said.
Vint was founded in 2019 by Nick King and Patrick Sanders, who wanted to bring fine wine investment “kicking and screaming into the 21st century”. Launching in May 2020, it offers shares in SEC-qualified securities of wine and spirit collections for as little as $25, which are later sold, with investors receiving their pro-rata distribution of the proceeds. It claims to be the only SEC qualified platform for wine investment, which means that investors can add their Vint portfolio to their individual retirement accounts (IRAs).
Earlier this year the company launched its first ‘en primeur’ of US wine, comprising 50 cases of the 2021 Joy Fantastic Syrah from Santa Barbara produced by Christine and winemaker Peter Hunken.