VineRoutes on Threads
wine storage
Lifestyle

5 optimal spots to store your wine in Toronto

February 29, 2024

“I have too much wine!”

Sure, that’s a worry. Has anyone actually said this? Ever? But it does beg the question: is it possible to have too much wine (at least too much to store)?

If you’re fortunate enough to live in some sort of Hogwarts-sized enclave, with a subterranean labyrinth of rooms to stash your stuff, you’re probably not too worried that yet another case of Screaming Eagle will be looking for a place to appreciate in value. But as we all (particularly younger people) have had to contend with, real estate is mostly increasing in price, and decreasing in square metres. So there really is a space issue to consider when stocking up.

Read Also: Ask a Somm: How to properly store and serve your wine

If you’re relatively new to the wine collecting game, you are likely thinking, “There’s no way I’ll ever have so much wine that I won’t have enough room for it all.” Well, just wait…trust me.

But there’s more to consider than just space. What’s the temperature like where your treasures are resting? What about the humidity? Sunlight? Vibration? All these factors will impact the long-term integrity (not to mention drinkability) of your collection. You may hit a point on your collecting road when you choose to (or have no choice but to) send the children away to live and mature on their own. Luckily, there are a few wine “boarding schools” that treat wine collections with the utmost care. They also take pretty good care of the collectors, too. In most of these places, storage space is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what some provide.

Wine Storage

The Library Lounge at the Vintage Conservatory in Yorkville.

Most sport a footprint not unlike the Batcave, in that you’re not likely to be given any external indication that you have arrived at the entrance. These caves, however, are not filled with bats.

You currently have five main choices when considering off-site storage options. These include The Fine Wine Reserve, Vintage Conservatory, The Wine Academy, Dymon Wine Cellars, and Cūrātus. Each varies in terms of the services offered.


The Fine Wine Reserve

Founded in 2001, The Fine Wine Reserve (FWR) was the first to provide public wine storage in the Greater Toronto Area. Wine began flowing into the 5,500 square foot (approximately 511 square metre) subterranean layer in 2003. The second location, northwest of the downtown core, opened in 2016 and currently provides 1,860 square metres of storage space.

“At the downtown cellar we offer private self-storage wine lockers with 24/7/365 access and a lounge/tasting room,” Marc Russell, FWR’s Founder, CEO, and shareholder informs. “Clients pay ‘per locker per month,’ and capacities range from eight to 96 cases. Then we have larger walk-in wine cellars that range in size from 200 to 600 cases.”

Wine Storage - Fine Wine Reserve

Fine Wine Reserve

Russell notes that the “per case” cost drops significantly as locker size increases, making it cost effective as the member’s collection grows. “For example, the 48-case locker holds six times more wine than the eight-case locker, but costs only three-and-a-half times more.”

FWR’s Etobicoke location is a bulk case storage facility. It’s not self storage, and clients pay between $2.75 and $3.90 per case per month depending on volume.

The focus at FWR is definitely skewed towards collectors looking for optimal mid- to long-term cellaring solutions, and security that would make Albert Spaggiari think twice before attempting a break-in. The lounge area is cozy and functional rather than swish – perfect for a relaxed tasting session.


Vintage Conservatory

Not far down the same street that houses FWR you’ll find (or won’t find, as the case may be) one of two Vintage Conservatory (VC) locations. “The Vintage Conservatory can be summarized as a private wine storage club that is an extension of one’s home or office,” says Costa (Constantine) Patiniotis, who founded VC in 2011. “Members join in order to conduct business, host and entertain clients, friends and family, and enjoy their wines in a welcoming and secure environment where they know they will be attended to with professional and thoughtful service.”

Patiniotis explains that membership fees are dependent on the size of the locker each member opts for, and that members can choose to subscribe monthly, quarterly, or annually. “The Vintage Conservatory does not have minimum spends or commitments,” he emphasizes.

Vintage Conservatory

Yorkville’s Vintage Conservatory has several spaces for guests to socialize.

While storage services are certainly part of what’s on offer, the VC vibe is definitely more social than cellar. “Both locations offer a bar area for tastings or casual entertaining,” Patiniotis explains. “The Yorkville location is tucked away and offers an elegant ‘speakeasy’ lounge where members can reserve tables or sections to host guests. The King St location offers two lounges and a patio overlooking the Roy Thomson Hall.”

Each location offers à la carte lunch and dinner service prepared by on-site kitchen teams, as well as private dining services that can host groups of up to 56 people. There are weekly tastings and events, including regular socials, networking, and culinary events. “This year we are organizing trips to Champagne and Piedmonte,” Patiniotis reveals.

I’ve been to a few events at the Yorkville VC location, and can best describe it as sleek, modern, and upscale, with a relaxed atmosphere, and an unobtrusive, but highly professional staff.


Cūrātus

Continuing an eastward course from VC’s downtown location, then heading a block or so north brings you to Cūrātus. The “new kid,” Cūrātus launched – cautiously – in January 2022, at a time when Toronto’s downtown core was not in exactly the best shape.

Cūrātus is housed in a Heritage 1914 building that was once home to Excelsior Life, and designed by E.J. Lennox, who built Casa Loma, Old City Hall, The King Edward Hotel, and several banks. “It was important to me, with the authentic culture of our club, to tie this into an authentic design, as if Lennox himself built the club,” notes Andrew Smith (self-designated as Chief Bottle Washer, but also owner/manager/chef). “In the build, we were able to unearth original tile, expose beams, plumbing, and source pieces that really hit our goal perfectly.”

Wine Storage at Curatus

Curatus

Cūrātus manages to be at once high-tech and homey. The vibe is kind of a welcoming and well-appointed (and extremely secure) condo, with a sophisticated app that allows members to access various amenities.

“We have 24/7 access, Smith assures, “but there are many rules and security measures in place. It’s paramount to us. First, we have a live 24/7 security guard at the top of our stairs to get in, a security code entrance, and facial recognition on an app to access the club, HD cameras, and alarms. Equally important, we own a culture where late use is an issue.”

Smith says that from the get-go he wanted a club that was about what members wanted, not what the club thought they should have. “This is an extension of their home and office in the downtown core. Smith confirms. They’re members, not customers – there is a big difference.

Membership is quite reasonable, starting at $145 per month for a small locker that holds 40 bottles, and goes up slightly for larger bottles. “We do offer corporate memberships for large firms,” Smith confirms, “and for small startups who use our space literally as their office. I love the vibe the people doing real business brings to our club.”

Indeed, when I visited, there was a fellow at a table with an open laptop, and an open bottle of The Macallan 12 Year old. He looked entirely stress-free.

Smith also has many connections with other local businesses, so if you want to work out a business deal, have a nice meal, some good wine (corkage-free of course), and get fitted for a custom suit or piece of jewelry at the same time, no problem.


The Wine Academy

Billing itself as “Toronto’s largest private social club,” The Wine Academy (TWA) occupies over 557 square metres, expanding to fill two floors, and extending almost five-and-a-half metres below street level. Located in the heart of the city’s Financial District (a few blocks northwest of Cūrātus), The Wine Academy’s climate and humidity-controlled cellar can accommodate some 105,000 bottles stored in 1,122 individual, separately-keyed lockers that hold up to 60, Bordeaux-shaped bottles.

Wine Storage

Wine Academy

The Wine Academy aims to offer an immersive wine-centric experience, where members can learn more about wine, socialize and network with other like-minded people, and provide them with on-site dining featuring locally sourced dishes. It also doubles as a fully equipped, semi-private business centre furbished with all the amenities a member might need to host meetings, presentations, and working sessions.

Membership costs range from $3,500 per year for a Personal Membership to $7,500 for a Corporate Membership. With each package, TWA members are granted 24/7 access to all storage and services, and they can have up to five guests join them at any one time.

Other membership perks include exclusive invitations to private tastings, portfolio tastings, and special premiers. They can also enlist the services of an in-house sommelier and enjoy full event planning services for social or business occasions.

TWA also partners with a roster of top-notch restaurants across the city that offer corkage-free dining to TWA members – a perk also offered by other clubs in this piece.


DYMON Wine Cellar

If you’re looking to escape the congestion (and parking fees) of the downtown core clubs, yet still experience the same level of sophistication, DYMON Wine Cellar (DWC) might be just the thing for you. An extension of the DYMON group, this cellar/social club “…is designed to be a place of inspiration and elegance offering high-quality private cellars, an exclusive wine club, members lounge, beautiful tasting rooms, and event space.”

Located in Etobicoke, in the northwest corner of the GTA, DWC sports a range of membership options to meet practically any oenophile’s needs. These include personal wine storage in optimized cellaring conditions, a private member-only club offering the use of a premium lounge, members’ networking events, and exclusive invitation-only winemakers’ dinners and tastings (guests are permitted). 24/7 access and tight security are a given.

Wine Storage

DYMON Wine Cellar

In terms of membership and storage capacity, DWC maintains an extremely flexible system with eight different levels. Plans start at approximately $200 per month for a 108-bottle cellar to about $700 monthly for a private wine cellar holding 1840 bottles. Some options include stunning glass-walled displays.

Private events for up to 40 people can be hosted in a spacious lounge area, in the private dining room, or in dedicated tasting rooms. Food and wine service can easily be arranged to a member’s specification for any gathering.

“DYMON Wine Cellar offers its members a relaxed setting to meet other like-minded, passionate wine and spirits enthusiasts,” comments Sean Rowlands of Gradwell Wines Inc. “As an agent, we host dinners with producers, and themed wine tasting evenings where members and their guests are able to learn, taste and purchase wines that are not available through LCBO retail stores. Many of the products presented by agents at DYMON Wine Cellar are highly allocated wines that in most cases do not even get offered to restaurants for listing.”

And, yes, parking is free.

While all these clubs – by their very nature – share certain similarities, they all have their own distinctive character and personality, and each caters to the specific needs of specific people. I’d suggest potential members do some online research, then book a tour. You’ll no doubt find the optimal oasis to pamper your wines…and yourself.

 

– Tod Stewart is a contributing editor with VineRoutes

Loading

Exclusive content via Email

You have Successfully Subscribed!