Wine Name:

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Cult Wines Ltd rejects WIA

Cult Wines Ltd were invited to be one of the founder members of the WIA. In this statement the co-directors explain why for the moment they have rejected membership:

Statement provided from Tom Gearing & Philip Gearing – Co-Directors of Cult Wines Ltd:

The Wine Investment Association

Cult Wines Ltd would like to recognise the WIA and applaud the founding members for their efforts in launching the introduction of regulation into the fine wine market.

Cult Wines were initially invited to participate as founding members but felt however that there were two key areas that would need to be addressed before we could consider membership;

-          The issue of cold calling is currently approved by the WIA and whilst the members may adhere to certain guidelines we firmly believe that this practice should be not be acceptable under any circumstances.

-          We would prefer to see this type of regulation managed by a completely independent body supported by the members rather than a form of self-regulation.


Cult Wines Ltd are not alone in finding cold calling an unacceptable practice. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) bans cold calling to strangers for investments that come under its remit. Companies may cold call existing customers but only if they are anticipating a call. 

The Wine Investment Association cannot expect to be taken seriously until it bans cold calling to strangers and comes into line with the FSA rules and guidelines. See here.   

Albany Vintners buys Vinance data base and takes over management of clients' stock

Locke King Vaults – cases stored in one of the tunnels 

The client database of Vinance plc, which went into administration on 16th November 2012, has been bought by Albany Vintners Ltd. Set up in 2003 by Marcus Edwards, who had worked for leading fine wine merchant Farr Vintners for 10 years – last four as their accountant, Albany Vintners is based in Cambridge. It offers its own in bond storage facilities through Arc Reserves using dedicated storage at Locke King Vaults, the fine wine storage section of EHD Bond.

Albany/Arc will take over the management of client accounts.

understand that there were eight other bidders.

It is still down to the administrators, Herron Fisher, to discover what Vinance plc's deficit is and to ascertain what the position is in regard to any en primeur wines ordered by its customers. Whatever the level of Vinance's debt is, this is separate from the deal with Albany Vintners Ltd.
Marcus Edwards comments: “Already we have had customers of Vinance contacting us to sell their wine. We expect to be able to help as we have a wider distribution network than Vinance – we sell to the trade, to private clients and also to export markets. We have still to sort out commission rates for these clients.

Vinance plc charged a 25% upfront commission on purchase but 0% on selling.
investdrinks asked Edwards whether the client database would be passed onto Albany Portfolio Management Ltd, an associated company offering wine investments and a founder member of the Wine Investment Association.

"These are two separate businesses. Our main priority is looking after the stock.  Passing on the database to Albany Portfolio Management is not a priority, we haven't considered this as a possibility. It is something we are unlikely to do."

As listeners to Saturday's BBC Radio 4's Moneybox would have heard the directors of Vinance plc were more concerned to score points rather than express regret for the collapse.

It is encouraging to see that the database has been bought by a company with a good reputation and not by a white knight operation set up to mislead investors caught up in the collapse of Vinance plc. Unfortunately this was not the case when Bordeaux UK Ltd went down in November 2011, when Vin Bordelais emerged using the same website and the same phone number as Bordeaux UK Ltd. See here.  

Entrance to the Locke King Vaults (above and below)

The Locke King Vaults are on the edge of the old Brooklands motor racing circuit. It was originally an extensive air raid shelter, which has now been converted to fine wine storage.  

Inside the vaults: side tunnels run off this corridor

An old air raid notice

James Temple: i/c wine storage at the vaults 

Statement by Herron Fisher, administrators:

Christopher Herron and Nicola Jayne Fisher, insolvency practitioners and administrators of Vinance Plc , have reached agreement with Albany Vintners Ltd/Arc Reserves Ltd (Arc) an experienced fine wine specialist, to take over the management of Vinance client accounts.

Nicky Fisher of Herron Fisher said, “We have made this arrangement in order to make life easier for the clients going forward, but of course it is subject to each individual client’s consent.”

All investors have been sent a letter from Arc Reserves with further information.

Arc Reserves said in its letter to creditors that it has reached agreement to take over the management of client accounts.  Going forward Herron Fisher, the administrators, are still working to confirm allocated wines and once this is completed they will liaise with Arc Reserves and investors to facilitate the transfer of cases subject to clients’ consent.

Albany Vintners Ltd is a wholesale fine wine company specialising in buying from Bordeaux and selling direct to private collectors and merchants in the UK, Europe and Asia. It has a dedicated logistics arm, Arc Reserves Limited, to provide a specialist storage and portfolio management solution for private clients.

Herron Fisher, led by Chris Herron and Nicky Fisher, is an expert corporate recovery and insolvency firm. For more information visit:   or e-mail To contact Arc Reserves, email: or visit:'