This week we interviewed Danielle Price, founder of Masion du Prix a U.S. wine trader that’s one of the largest buyers of fine and rare wines. Maison du Prix boasts 18 years under its belt and although it’s focused on “blue chip” wines it doesn’t have thresholds so sellers can feel free to forward their lists.
Maison du Prix has an efficient system for processing a seller’s list and returning an answer very fast “typically 2 business days” – says Danielle. Additionally as compared with auction houses, Danielle mentioned that a “seller should be aware that selling at auction is a much slower process than selling to Maison du Prix Wines. For auctions, you wait until the next auction occurs which can be months (or longer)”
Sell Wine Guide: We understand that as part of your business you may purchase wine from collectors. Can you describe how the process usually works when you buy wine from private individuals?
Danielle Price, founder of Maison du Prix: As one of the largest buyers of fine and rare “blue chip” vintage wines in the world, Maison du Prix Wines reviews hundreds of collections each year and has set up a simple and easy process to help sellers quickly and easily sell their wine(s) and receive payment.
First, sellers submit the wine(s) they’d like to sell, ideally in an Excel spreadsheet format, to us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and include the producer’s name, any special designation or vineyard, vintage, bottle size, # of bottles, and any notable flaws that may exist such as a torn or stained label, low fill etc. In addition, we ask for any information and documentation regarding the provenance of the wine and details regarding how it has been stored since purchase along with photos of all bottles. With that, we can provide the seller a quote for the wines we are interested in purchasing.
Unlike auction houses that are typically only interested if a seller has a large collection and full cases (vs. individual bottles) to auction, we are interested in wine collections both large and small and are ok with partial cases and individual bottles – and have been known to purchase collections as small as a single bottle if it’s something interesting.
Second, once we receive all the above info from a seller, we will let them know – typically within 2 business days – if we are interested in purchasing all or a portion of their wine collection, at what prices, and if a deal is consummated we immediately email a purchase order and arrange for shipping the wines to our warehouse. Payment is mailed out to the seller immediately after receipt and inspection of the wines – typically in 1 business day or less or receiving the shipment. There is no waiting period for payment like at other large retailers and auction houses.
That’s it! In the event a wine does not meet our expectations (relative to the seller’s description and pictures provided), the wine is shipped back to the seller at the seller’s expense. For large wine collections, we may have someone from our team travel to your cellar and conduct and inspection in person.
Sell Wine Guide: From your website it seems that you typically do straight cash purchases? Do you also do consignments?
Danielle Price: That is correct. At Maison du Prix Wines we only sell wines that we own, have inspected, and that are currently in stock in our warehouse. We do not offer or sell any wines on a consignment basis.
Sell Wine Guide: Does Maison du Prix offer free appraisals for people who submit their wine lists?
Danielle Price: Yes, we provide free ‘appraisals’ of what we’d be willing to pay a seller for any wines on their list that we are be interested in purchasing.
Sell Wine Guide: What are the typical types of wines you’re looking to purchase? Are there sales of relatively obscure wines?
Danielle Price: Maison du Prix Wines specializes in selling collectible fine and rare older vintage “blue chip” wines and cult classics from the United States, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. An example of brands that we frequently buy and sell includes: Opus One, Harlan, Bryant Family, Sine Qua Non, Peter Michael, DRC, Quintarelli, Gaja, and Dom Perginon. We don’t generally purchase unknown, obscure wines.
Sell Wine Guide: Are there certain thresholds for purchases (like lots size etc.)
Danielle Price: As previously mentioned, no cellar or wine collection is too large or small for Maison du Prix Wines. We are interested in wine cellars of all sizes, vertical collections, and individual cases or bottles provided the provenance of the wines can be proven and the quality of the wines are excellent.
Sell Wine Guide: How do you rate the Provenance of a collection?
Danielle Price: It is very important for us to know the history of any wine that we are purchasing. If a seller can’t remember where they acquired the wine, or if they received it as a gift many years ago, it is usually not a wine that we will be interested in purchasing. The sellers that we purchase wine from are typically avid collectors who have been purchasing wines either direct from the wineries or from reputable auction houses and retailers.
Sell Wine Guide: For a first time seller who wants to sell some of his wine, what are the important things he needs to take into account?
Danielle Price: A well-informed seller is the best kind of seller.
First, the seller should be aware that selling at auction is a much slower process than selling to Maison du Prix Wines. For auctions, you wait until the next auction occurs which can be months (or longer), you hope the wine(s) sell, then you wait for the auction house to get paid by the winning bidders, and then you get paid your share of the proceeds about 30-45 days later. So, the whole process can take anywhere from 3 months to 12 or more at auction whereas with Maison du Prix Wines a seller gets a quote within 2 business days, ships us the wine, and has payment mailed often the same day or within 1 business day.
Second, the seller needs to account for the fact that we can’t pay “retail” for the wine as we, along with any other retailer, need to resell it at or below full retail to move it and make a profit to operate our business. Fortunately, we run a lean operation at Maison du Prix Wines – less overhead means we generally pay more than our competitors.
Third, the more information the seller can provide upfront regarding the provenance of the wine (i.e. documentation) and how and where it has been stored, the better as this will be critical as we assess the collection and it will reduce the risk of us receiving the wine, inspecting it, and rejecting it.
Sell Wine Guide: Any additional tips for prospective sellers?
Danielle Price: Sellers should only sell their wine to reputable retailers or via sound auction houses. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of fraud in the fine and rare wine business so it is important for sellers to do their homework and work with a trustworthy company to ensure an easy transaction and quick payment!