The Wine Cellar Chronicles, Part III: “Inventory”

With about 80% of the insulation nestled in overhead, I had hoped that suspending the ceiling, installing vintage light fixtures, or perhaps building a massive table from crude bridge planks would be my next big project in the cellar. Then our accountant got back to us and, somehow, we owe the government money. Lots of it. I’m firing the accountant and replacing her for next year, but the damage is done, and any money I might have been planning to spend in the cellar (or on a vacation) will soon be on its way to the government. Sigh.

So what could I do to maintain momentum in my wine cellar with next to no money? I did need to inventory the wine, I suppose, both for insurance purposes as well as my own records. I want to, for the first time, have an accurate count. First, I needed a system. I looked at a couple of different methods. Given that my collection is over 50% American Cabernet Sauvignon and, though I am developing a taste for good wine from Bordeaux, likely to remain as such, I landed on the following:

Country-Region-Varietal/Producer, Lable, Vinage, Quantity.

On paper, it looks like this:

United States

Sonoma County

Cabernet Sauvignon


Robledo “Seven Brothers” 2013                                                                 Qty: 12


I’m still tinkering with the method, but in all it looks to me like it works for my purposes. Tonight, I knocked out about 2/3 of the cellar, standing and typing and listening to music while, upstairs, my wife added frosting to the birthday cake she baked for our son’s second birthday. I still have the other 1/3, the wine fridge, and some random wines sitting around, plus all of my Coravin’d stuff, to do. When I’m finished, I’ll print it all on nice, textured paper and put it into a leather-bound binder to keep in the cellar. As I acquire or deaccession wine, I’ll take notes by hand on the paper, and then update the list somewhere between monthly and quarterly. Over time, I hope it becomes a fun sort of diary. While I stood typing away in the cellar, Sonja came in behind me with a spatula slathered in cake frosting. “Try this,” she instructed. “I think it’s even better than last year.” It was. I told her so. And she returned to her labor of love, and I returned to mine.

Taking inventory was always my least favorite part of working in a grocery store. Tonight, it was a bit more enjoyable, looking back over the wines I’d purchased over the years that are now, finally, stored a bit more properly in my home storage cellar. On the backs of some of the bottles were dates, either in Sonja’s handwriting or my own, indicating wine purchased on a trip by Sonja and I. Others were autographed, usually in silver Sharpie, reminding me of times Sonja and I met winemakers on our travels, and had them sign our favorite bottle. By the time I was done, my head was flooded with positive memories of the past, and I was eager to rejoin Sonja in the kitchen, and then go to bed.




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