Europe’s love and appreciation for wine is well-known. But does it present a viable market for wine storage? Here in the United States, a few self-storage facilities branched into this niche in the mid-’80s. Demand grew as the baby-boomer generation embraced wine-collecting and needed room to store cases.
Although wine storage commands a higher rental return per square foot, it’s considered expensive to build due to temperature, humidity and light control, and requirements for extensive security. U.S. operators have reported mixed results, with success linked to geographical proximity to vineyards and wealthy communities.
In Vienna, Austria, one facility is now offering an alternative to storing wine at home. Austrian-based Self Storage—Dein Lager GmbH, headquartered in Vienna, began offering wine storage in 2001. The company, which opened its first self-storage store in 1999, operates five facilities: three in Vienna, one in Graz and one in Munich.
Inside Self-Storage interviewed Martin Gerhardus, one of four principals of Dein Lager (which means “your storage”) about the facility’s wine-storage service. Despite the popularity of wine in Europe, the results of Gehardus’ enterprise were surprisingly lukewarm, aside from an unexpected marketing benefit.
Which Dien Lager facilities offer wine storage?
Only the West Vienna (Wattgasse) facility offers storage for wines.
Why did your company choose to add the service?
We thought it was a good idea, and we like wine!
When did you begin offering the service, and did you encounter any municipal challenges?
We offered our wine-storage service the same year the facility was opened: 2001. Just as with the construction of the facility, we had no municipal or zoning problems.
How large is the wine-storage area?
We have dedicated 100 units to wine storage, encompassing 100 square meters in a separate part of the building.
What can customers expect?
We ensure stable humidity and a stable temperature. The winestorage area has climate-controlled units with a fixed temperature of 12 C, and humidity is guaranteed to be maintained between 50 percent and 70 percent. The wine storage has a separate entrance, and each unit is individually alarmed. Customers, who receive their own key and security code, can access the facility from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days per year. Security measures include video, alarm and security services.
What kind of marketing are you doing?
We market this service through wine merchants and shops, the Yellow Pages, and by sending out leaflets to the local community.
How has the community responded?
There is not a big interest for actually storing wine in our facility, but everybody who knows us knows what “wine storage” means. So although this may not be a big business success, I see this as a big marketing success. Our name is well-known.
Is the hobby of wine collecting increasing in popularity?
Yes, the awareness and purchase of good wine has increased dramatically in Europe.
What is the future of wine storage in Europe?
In my judgment, there is no future for this ancillary service in Europe. European wine collectors buy wine to drink it. Obviously, people who collect wine want to have it at home and do not want to drive to fetch the bottles. They prefer to store their wine at home. Austrians are more into drinking wine than in making money, so they don’t collect wine for an investment, like people in the United States.
In general, what do you see as the challenges facing the growth of self-storage in Europe over the next few years?
The growth of self-storage in Austria and Germany will be slow. The major challenge is going to be to market the product and educate the population on the service self-storage provides. We market largely through our website, the Yellow Pages and local advertising such as leaflets. Other challenges in constructing a new facility are time and money.