Why do some of your First Growths display "Sold Out"? What if I would like to order them?
We believe that fine wine, especially the First Growths, should ONLY be served after proper aging. Until they are ready to be opened for drinking, there is no point in shipping the First Growths around the world, since fine wine really doesn't like to travel. The best place to let the wines age is where they are made, in Bordeaux. Hence, we store our First Growths inventory in a bonded warehouse in Bordeaux. Our bonded warehouse is authorized by the French Customs so our wines are not subject to VAT taxes imposed on goods destined for the domestic French or extended European markets.
From time to time, we may have in stock First Growths wine that have been properly cellared for 5-10 years. On rare occasions, we may also offer First Growths from more recent vintages.
If you would like to order First Growths from us, we would be happy to open a sub-account for you at our bonded facility in Bordeaux where your precious purchases can be stored in pristine conditions (with the added protection provided under an insurance policy underwritten by ACE EUROPEAN GROUP, the world's premier insurance company. For customers who know the insurance industry, ACE acquired CHUBB in the US in January 2016.). If you ever travel to Bordeaux area, you can schedule visits to our facility to inspect your stock or taste wine of your choice. Upon special request by discerning customers who would like to store the wines in their own cellars stateside, we can arrange the transportation and importation of your Bordeaux collection for delivery to your own cellar.
What is OWC and why would I order OWC?
OWC stands for Original Wood Case. These are the wooden crates that chateaus pack their wines in for shipping. It usually bears the brand logo and specifications of the vintage. Some even carry traceable stickers to track the provenance of the wines. These cases are usually highly sought after by collectors who may wish to display the cases in their cellars. Should you consider investing in wine and selling your investment wine at a later date, OWC enhances the appeal to the buyers and increase the market value of the wines you offer. The majority of the wines we offer comes available in OWC format. Some hold 6 bottles, most hold 12 bottles, and larger format wines can even have individual wood cases for single bottles. For a small shipping fee, we will send you the original wood case, along with the wines you order.
What is your Pre-Arrival order-taking practice?
Pre-Arrival order-taking is an option offered by most reputable wine merchants to allocate wines that have not been shipped to or arrived in the US. We have a strict policy of only making wines already stored in our Bordeaux warehouse available on a Pre-Arrival basis. These wines are in the process of being packed for shipping in a container in 30-60 days. While importation of wine is not a precise business, due to transit time and customs inspection, our Pre-Arrival wines typically arrived 30-90 days after an order is placed.
What happens to my advance payment for Pre-Arrival? Is my money safe?
We have stringent financial controls that require us to deposit any advance payment from customers into a segregated US bank account, and keep the money safe as a current liability under Unearned Revenue item on our corporate balance sheet. Pre-Arrival orders are not recognized as revenue on our books until we ship the wines to customers. So, yes, your money is safe.
When you place Pre-Arrival orders with us, you are buying wines already in our possession either in our Bordeaux warehouse or in transit on a container ship. We NEVER sell wines that we don't already own.
How soon can I expect my wine after I order?
Weather permitting, when an item is in stock, we usually ship within 2 business days. If we receive your order before 12 noon Pacific Time and your delivery address is within the GSO Next Day service area, there is a good chance you can receive your wine the next business day.
Why can't I check out (or: why can't you ship to my state)?
When it comes to shipping and transporting wine across state lines, our international business partners frequently jokingly call us the Un-United States of America. Thanks to the legacy of Prohibition, or more likely, the pre-existing distribution network's ingenuity to lobby (ahem, "sponsor") legislative bills to discourage direct to consumer shipping, consumers face a mounting challenge in shopping for wine across state lines. Many years of concerted lobbying efforts by wine growers across the US have opened doors for shipping of domestically produced wines. But imported wines are becoming more restricted than ever.
We are sorry if we are not able to ship to your states. If you want to help, please consider visiting the web site, Free the Grapes!
Free the Grapes! is a national, grassroots coalition of consumers, wineries and retailers who seek to remove restrictions in states that still prohibit consumers from purchasing wines directly from wineries and retailers.
Why do I see some of your wines listed for sale on Amazon?
As a way for us to learn from the juggernaut of e-commerce, we listed some of our wine offerings for sale on Amazon Marketplace. This is a temporary move for us to research consumer buying preferences and observe Amazon's best practices in customer service. Selling on Amazon has its costs. In fact, due to Amazon-imposed add-on fees, all our products sold on Amazon are 15-20% more expensive than identical listings on our own web site. We have been disappointed that, under Amazon fee arrangement, we are not able to provide the best value to our customers shopping on Amazon. Our customers are always welcome to shop directly with us, without paying Amazon as a middleman.
On a separate note, these listings on Amazon will stop on December 31, 2017. We are NOT happy that Amazon takes the lion's share of profits. Amazon also harbors higher ambitions after its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market. They now view our market offerings as a competition to their Whole Foods business and will stop operating a marketplace for wine. Talk about anti-trust concerns!
Needless to say, we hope consumers are smart enough to recognize value without blind faith in a company's leading market position. We sure don't want to see a future world in which a monopolistic company controls the bulk of the consumer-facing e-commerce. We will certainly do our part to bring consumers choices, and continue to provide the best value and service to our customers who shop directly with us.
UPDATE: As of December 21, 2017, we have stopped selling on Amazon! No more order on Amazon will be accepted.