Vint launched as a fine wine and spirit investment opportunity after working with the regulatory body, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). The aim, said CEO Nick King, is to make the concept of fine wine investment a mainstream idea in the US.
‘If you were to walk down the street in a major US city and ask 100 people if they’d heard of wine as an investment, maybe only five, or at most 10 people would respond affirmatively,’ he said. Prior to the launch of Vint, interested Americans had to work with an agent, mainly in the UK, he added.
An American window into European investment
‘You would send someone in London $50,000, and you would get a list of wines back,’ King said. ‘We saw an opportunity there, as that approach was opaque and largely inefficient. It doesn’t inspire confidence for new investors.
‘So I spent nine months with the SEC, setting up a structure that allows us to curate collections of wines, spirits, as well as futures. With our SEC filing, we’re able to offer all of this as an investable asset class to a more average American consumer.’
Vint has so far specialised in offering SEC-qualified shares in curated fine wine and spirits collections. Wine is stored professionally in temperature and humidity-controlled conditions, according to the group .
‘We offer about 10 collections per month on our platform, and they’ve ranged from $25,000 to 500,000 (USD),’ King said.
‘Our average American investor is between 45-55, and they are a high earner and fairly wealthy. The interesting element is, in general, wine is not one of their top two passions. They are pretty sophisticated when it comes to investing. The main value proposition that they’re looking for here is diversification in an uncorrelated asset class.’
While not disclosing a figure, King said that Vint has ‘thousands of clients’ and that those clients have anywhere between a few thousand dollars up into the mid-six figures.
Given that wine has not traditionally been seen as an investible asset class in the US, the Vint team spends a lot of their focus on building trust.
‘Ultimately what we’re trying to do is position it and educate investors in the stability of wine as an investment,’ King explained.
‘You can look at the returns. [Researchers at the University of] Cambridge, ran a study, going back to 1900, showing 8.5% annual returns on wine as an asset class. If look at the returns, there’s no reason that wine shouldn’t be considered right next to stocks bonds and real estate.’
As with any investment, though, returns can never be guaranteed.
The concept of the retail sales site allows Vint to create ‘full vertical integration’ and represents an exit channel on some of those investments that they control.
Adam Lapierre MW, Vint’s chief operations officer, sees Vint Marketplace as a way to both offer extraordinarily fine and rare products for sale, in much more accessible ways to US consumers, as well as giving Vint’s investment side more actionable information.
‘I think one of the nice things about having our Vint Marketplace online now, is that our ability to view what makes an investment-grade wine will broaden because we’ve got capacity to reach the end consumer in the US,’ said Lapierre. ‘So from the perspective of domestic wines or less traditional wine investments, it gives us a different consumer driven insight.’
The Vint Marketplace currently has more than 4,000 items available, with a total value of $18m. Most of the items are held in bond in the UK or France. However, the platform also has domestic fine wine, and notably bourbon.
Vint marketplace’s eye-popping inventory includes tough to find bottles from Napa luminaries like Togni, Harlan, Opus One and Scarecrow. It offers the hard earned Pappy Van Winkle bourbons, and a bottle of 40-year-old Scotch from Ladyburn that retails for almost $9,000 rounds out the spirits offerings.