– By Jim Boyce
The Wine Residence opened in a century-old clubhouse in Shanghai last month and will “operate as a classic town club, with a strong focus on wine appreciation and education,” states a press release from ASC Fine Wines, which will run the venue.
The Wine Residence includes 180 private cellar spaces and “membership will be available only to a select group who appreciate the finer things in life and are fortunate enough to secure a place at what promises to be the most elegant town club in Shanghai.”
I guess that counts me out.
Each locker costs RMB 25,000 (USD 3,400) per year and comes with a “welcome gift” of Riedel glasses and wine worth RMB 7,500, and, one hopes, a very firm handshake.
The Wine Residence includes a members-only lounge, a library, a seminar room and wine education program, according to the press release. The wine list will include 2,000 different bottles, all of them distributed by ASC, though members may, of course, store any wine they wish in their lockers.
Readers might be reminded of last yearâ€™s Club 88 private wine locked program at The Cellar, part of a three-part Beijing establishment called TRIO. Under the program, 88 lockers were available to those willing to plunk down an RMB 8,888 initial and an RMB 3,888 annual fee. The venue had several private rooms, but otherwise was open to the public, although the wine list had only ASC wines.
The idea: the cityâ€™s wealthier wine lovers as well as corporations seeking a place to entertain clients would flood in. They trickled in at best and The Cellar has since become the first Beijing outlet of a Korean wine bar chain, with the private wine lockers removed.
Shanghai seems a more promising venue for this type of thing, given The Wine Residence premises sound nicer, wine sales are higher in that city, and entrepreneurial cash flows there like the Huangpu River. ASC founder Don St. Pierre Jr. told me that the difference between The Wine Residence and The Cellar is “night and day.”
By the way, ASC has subleased out part of the Shanghai building to Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen, which also features a wine list dominated by ASC.
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And thanks for the comment. I am also curious to see if the memberships take off. Last night, I went to Cave, a wine bar here in Beijing that started off as The Cellar, which was based on the locker / membership idea and failed badly.
But as I always tell people who bring Hong Kong or Shanghai bars to Beijing — this ain’t Hong Kong or Shanghai. So, I’m more optimistic of a project like this working in Shanghai, with so much entrepreneurial money, than in Beijing.
This really is a ground breaking venture, I have been to several tastings already and it is a great project. It will be interesting to see whether the commercial side of things- IE the wine lockers and memberships take off-but congratulations to ASC for creating a quality venue for education and wine appreciation. I think it also highlights the care and level of quality required to store wine properly, something no one really takes seriously enough in China.