This old WWII bunker now holds $1.3 billion of wine

Pablo Escobar buried hundreds of millions across remote farmland in Columbia. Al Capone had hidden vault under the Lexington Hotel in NYC. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault near the North Pole contains 500,000 of the world’s seed varieties in safekeeping, just in case.

And savvy wine collectors have their own Fort Knox, where more than $1 billion dollars worth is guarded. It’s found in the middle of a field in England.

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Since it’s still technically a mine, visitors and workers must wear gas masks as they enter.

Welcome to Octavian’s Corsham Cellars, the world’s largest and most secure wine storage facility. In the 1800s it was a mining quarry, and later it was converted into a munitions depot in WWII. Today the 1 million square foot facility is one of the largest European wine storage facilities, home to some of the most prized vintages of wine ever produced. Sotheby’s and Christie’s use it, as do some of the richest collectors in the world.

Ancient casks rest quietly in a corner.
Ancient casks rest quietly in a corner.

Visitors and workers wear gas masks upon entering because it’s technically still a mine. Once verified at the guard tower visitors walk past motion sensors into a narrow, dimly lit mine shaft that descends into the cellars. Temps remain a constant 55 degrees and humidity is checked on the hour to ensure it remains at 80%. The lamps are covered with a UV blocking film to prevent light damage.

WWII-era drawings on the wall serve as a reminder of the cave's long, varied history.
WWII-era drawings on the wall serve as a reminder of the cave’s long, varied history.

The collections center around Bordeaux wines, which have been the most worthwhile investments, although since 2011 the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 index has fallen by more than a third. Some of the most valuable wines stored here include roughtly 1000 cases from 1775 to 1800 which are dispersed around the cave to minimize risk. Savvy investors ask for photo documentation to track the condition of labels, wooden boxes, corks, and anything else that might lower the value of their wine.

Even with a drop in demand for expensive Bordeaux wines, investors desire to branch out into alternative securities means they need even more space to store their prized collections. Despite the nearly 22 football fields of storage space, Octavian needed more room to meet demand. So he built a new facility just a few miles away.

Photographs: Lauren Fleishman/Bloomberg Markets | h/t Bloomberg | Cover photo credit: Breaking the Drought
Mike Meisner

Mike Meisner

Mike is the resident content creator for the Last Bottle blog. When he's not spilling wine on his keyboard he can be found wandering the aisles in the warehouse with a Coravin in hand, whispering to bottles "This will only hurt for a second".
Mike Meisner

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