People have been making and drinking wine for thousands of years. In fact, wine has played an important role in human history, from its use in religious ceremonies to celebrations, and has been consumed practically everywhere on earth.
But as an investment, wine hasn't always been so accessible. Normally, you need a wine cellar and the knowledge to properly store wine to even consider it as an investment. And when it comes time to sell, you have to know a network of buyers and collectors who are interested.
Companies like Vinovest are changing these barriers to entry. With Vinovest, you can invest in portfolios of fine wine from around the world starting with just $1,000. And you get full ownership of your wine without having to worry about shipping, storage, and insurance.
Our Vinovest review is covering the features of this alternative investment platform, the pros and cons, and how to decide if wine belongs in your portfolio.
Pros & Cons
What Is Vinovest?
Vinovest is a fine wine investing platform that began in 2019. The company lets you invest in blue-chip wine from popular regions like Burgundy and Bordeaux plus emerging markets from around the world.
The company was founded by Anthony Zhang and Brent Akamine, both of whom have experience in startups like Blockfolio and venture capital experience. And despite being a young company, Vinovest has quickly grown into one of the most popular ways to invest in wine without having to store and insure it yourself.
Who Is Vinovest For?
Wine investing is popular for anyone who wants to diversify their portfolios with a long-term, less volatile asset class. And with Vinovest, you can do this automatically through the numerous AI-powered portfolios it offers. There's also a marketplace where you can buy individual bottles of wine to add to your collection.
This isn't the right platform if you're still building your nest egg and aren't comfortable with alternative assets quite yet. But for mixing up your portfolio with a historically high-performing asset class, Vinovest is worth using.
What Makes Vinovest Great?
Between its ease-of-use and multiple investing options, there are numerous reasons why Vinovest is one of the best ways to invest in wine.
Numerous Vinovest Portfolios
When you invest with Vinovest, you choose from three different portfolios that are designed to match your investing goals and risk tolerance:
- Conservative: Targets 5.5% annual returns.
- Moderate: Targets 8% annual returns.
- Aggressive: Targets 12% annual returns.
As for the types of wines you invest in, Vinovest creates your portfolio using its master sommeliers and an AI-powered algorithm that selects wines from multiple regions. For example, a more aggressive portfolio might select wines from emerging markets while a conservative portfolio will stick with blue-chip wines from established regions with more stable returns.
Once you make a deposit, it takes Vinovest about two to three weeks to actually buy wine. It attempts to buy wine below the retail price to help improve returns. Once Vinovest acquires wine, it authenticates, ships, and stores the wine at the closest bonded warehouse.
You can't view a list of all the available wines. However, Vinovest's algorithm considers thousands of wines across numerous vintages, including most prestigious wines. Earnings automatically reinvest into your portfolio, and Vinovest even rebalances your portfolio automatically similar to many robo-advisors.
One new and exciting Vinovest feature is the ability to invest in individual bottles of wine without using a prebuilt portfolio. The Vinovest marketplace lets you explore various wine collections and bottles you can invest in. At the time of writing, 93 types of wine are available.
Clicking on a bottle expands more information about the vintage, historical price, bid and ask prices, and critic scores from sommeliers and wine reviewers. It also includes a section titled “Why We're Buying” that explains Vinovest's rationale for also investing in the particular wine.
I reached out to Vinovest's team to learn more about the new marketplace. According to Vinovest's CEO, Anthony Zhang, the company is “excited by the growth of our marketplace and plan to add additional selections in the coming months.” So, look for even more individual investing opportunities around the corner.
Low Investing Minimum
There's a $1,000 minimum investing requirement for Vinovest's portfolios. There isn't a minimum investing requirement for the marketplace, although many bottles of wine start at around $80 to $150.
Vinovest also has four tiers depending on how much money you invest. Tiers also have lower annual fees the more you invest. And the upper two tiers, Premium and Grand Cru, let you manually select wines to add to your portfolio as well.
However, the base tier only requires $1,000, which is fairly low in the world of alternative asset investing. In contrast, platforms like Yieldstreet often require $5,000 to $15,000 for many investment opportunities.
According to its website, fine wines have returned 10.6% over the last 30 years. And since wine typically has a holding period of 10 to 15 years or more, it's a less volatile, long-term investment. The fact vintages are finite can also help wine become more valuable due to scarcity.
Vinovest's team also looks for the opportune time to sell wines in your portfolio to maximize returns. Plus, the company tries to secure wine below retail price to help improve returns out of the gate.
Overall, Vinovest provides a long-term alternative investment opportunity that isn't incredibly volatile. So if you want to diversify your portfolio and move away from stocks and ETFs, it's worth considering.
No Accreditation Requirement
Many alternative asset investing platforms require you to be an accredited investor to join. But Vinovest is open to non-accredited investors, making it very beginner-friendly.
Access to Human Advisors
If you have questions about Vinovest or why wine investing might be right for you, you can book a time to speak with a portfolio advisor in your region. Investors with the Premium and Grand Chu plan also get dedicated advisors.
Portfolio and marketplace trading are the two main ways to invest with Vinovets. However, the platform also lets you trade wine futures if you're a Premium or Grand Chu client.
Wine futures involve buying new vintages while they're still in the barrel. This lets investors get in early on fine wine, and Vinovest brings these more exclusive offerings to the platform from time to time.
Referral Program & Management Fee Discounts
If you refer a friend to Vinovest, you both get three months of free management when they fund their account. And if you enable auto investing, you also get 5% off management fees.
Between these two perks, you can potentially lower Vinovest's fees or avoid them altogether which helps you earn even more.
Where Vinovest Could Improve
It's hard to find a more user-friendly platform for wine investing than Vinovest. However, there are several downsides investors should consider before making a deposit.
You pay between 2.25% and 2.85% in annual management fees if you invest in a Vinovest portfolio. You also pay trading and storage fees for wine you buy from the marketplace. These fees aren't abnormally high for the world of alternative asset investing. However, they're much higher than the fees robo-advisors like Betterment or real estate crowdfunding companies like Fundrise charge.
Betterment charges 0.25% annually and lets you invest in a portfolio of stocks, bonds, and ETFs. As for Fundrise, it lets you invest in real estate starting with just $10, and you only pay 1% in annual fees.
This isn't a direct comparison, but it goes to show how alternative investing platforms like Vinovest are on the higher-side for management fees.
When you invest with Vinovest, you're taking on a long-term investment. And while you can sell wine anytime and only pay a small early withdrawal fee, this isn't an ideal platform for short-term investing.
More Marketplace Selection
Currently, there's under 100 available wine options on the Vinovest marketplace. This is an excellent starting point for diversifying your collection. However, having more options would be a nice perk for investors, especially if you're on the Starter or Plus plan and can't customize your managed portfolio.
Vinovest Plans & Pricing
Vinovest charges 2.85% in annual management fees for its Start plan. Management fees get as low as 2.25% per year once you reach the Grand Chu plan. Which Vinovest plan you're on depends on how much you fund your account with.
Here's how the four different Vinovest plans compare:
As mentioned, you need to invest at least $50,000 if you want to customize your portfolio. But the Starter plan provides everything you need to add wine to your portfolio without having to worry about purchasing, storing, and insuring it yourself.
As for trading wine on the marketplace, Vinovest also charges several fees:
- Buying: Pay a 2.5% fee that includes three months of storage.
- Selling: Pay a 1% fee when you sell wine to another user on the marketplace.
- Storage: Pay a 1.5% yearly storage fee that is billed monthly.
According to its website, wine is generally a long-term investment with a holding period of at least 10 to 15 years. Vinovest's team still looks for the best time to sell wines to maximize returns, but this isn't a short-term investment strategy by any means.
That said, you can sell wine in your portfolio anytime to free up capital. Liquidity is high, puns aside, because Vinovest works with a global network of wine buyers so it's not hard to offload your holdings. Usually, it takes two to three weeks to sell your wine.
However, investors pay a 3% early sale penalty for selling wine sooner than three years from original purchase. But this fee is only for managed portfolios and not for marketplace sales.
How to Contact Vinovest
You can contact Vinovest customer support by emailing email@example.com or by calling 213-410-4546. The company has a 4.3 star review on Trustpilot, and many customers cite a responsive, friendly support team and easy-to-use platform.
How to Open an Account
You sign up for Vinovest with your email or an Apple or Google account. After signing up, you select the portfolio type you're most interested in. There's even a useful calculator that shows you how much your portfolio might grow over a certain time frame depending on the portfolio you pick and how long you invest for.
That's all it takes to sign up for Vinovest. From there, you simply fund your account with options including:
- Bank account transfers
- Debit and credit cards
- Paper check
- Wire transfer
The fact you can convert crypto into cash that you use to invest in wine is a unique aspect of Vinovest. It works with BitPay to support crypto conversions. You can convert popular cryptos like Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum. And Vinovest also supports multiple currencies like US dollars, British Pounds, Euros, and Canadian dollars.
The downside is that there's a $1,000 deposit minimum anytime you make a deposit, not just when opening an account. The exception is that auto-deposits have a $500 minimum, but you can't top-up your account with $50 or small amounts.
Is Vinovest Legit & Safe?
Vinovest provides third-party insurance to all investors that covers damages due to mishandling and natural disasters up to the full market value of your wine. The company also stores wine in secure storage facilities throughout France, the UK, Denmark, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States. Facilities are bonded which helps eliminate extra taxes and tariffs on the wine during storage.
It's also worth noting that when you invest with Vinovest, you own 100% of the wine in your portfolio. You even get ownership certificates to prove that your wine is truly yours. In fact, Vinovest even lets you drink the wine in your portfolio if you want to; you just pay for it to ship a case you own to your doorstep.
Having full ownership means that if Vinovest ever goes out of business, you still own your wine. In such a scenario, you could contact the storage facility and arrange for continued storage or pay for them to ship your wine collection to you.
According to its website, Vinoves also receives multiple audits each year from its insurance providers and a third-party auditor. Overall, it's a safe and secure way to invest in fine wine. And you don't have to worry about properly storing wines yourself or invest in a proper cellar.
Just note that Vinovest isn't regulated by the SEC because it doesn't sell securities.
In our opinion, Vinovest is one of the best ways to add wine to your portfolio. You don't have to worry about insurance or proper storage, and a $1,000 minimum is still beginner-friendly.
However, there are several Vinovest alternatives you can consider if you want to invest with even less money or explore other alternative asset classes.
Best For: Entry-level wine investing.
Vint is another popular wine investing platform that's the closest alternative to Vinovest there is. The main difference is that Vint lets you buy SEC-qualified shares of fine wine since it securitizes wine, whereas Vinovest just purchases bottles. This lets you buy shares like fractional shares of stocks rather than having to buy entire bottles.
This difference also means you can start investing with Vint with only $25. You don't pay annual fees either, although Vint takes 0.5% to 10% of each offering it opens up to a pool of investors. Vint also sells entire wine collections that often range from $25,000 to $100,000, with share prices normally in the $25 to $50 range.
You don't get managed portfolios like you do with Vinovest. But if you want to invest a small amount of money, Vint is better than Vinovest.
Best For: Alternative asset selection.
If you want to invest in wine and other alternative assets, Yieldstreet is the best Vinovest alternative. This platform lets you invest in artwork, wine, real estate, short-term notes, and even private equity deals and consumer or business debt.
Non-accredited investors can invest in Yieldstreet's main fund with only $500. This fund provides exposures to numerous asset classes, including art and real estate. Direct deals and other funds are open to accredited investors and typically have a $5,000 to $15,000 minimum requirement.
Annual management fees vary by investment opportunity and reach up to 2.5% per year. According to its website, Yieldstreet has seen 9.71% net annualized returns since its inception.
Best For: Artwork investing.
Masterworks is another popular alternative investment platform that specializes in artwork. With over 400,000 investors, it's the most popular artwork investing platform there is. And according to its website, Masterworks has seen 14.3% returns, net of fees, from September 2019 to March 2022.Masterworks is similar to Vint in that artwork is securitized, letting you buy individual shares. Holding periods range from three to 10 years but you can also sell your shares on a secondary marketplace if you want to exit earlier.
For fees, Masterworks charges 1.5% per year and 20% of future profits when artwork sells. You don't have to be an accredited investor to use Masterworks. There's also a $0 investment minimum, and shares can start as low as $20.
When it comes to investing in wine, Vinovest is an industry leader for several reasons. A lack of accreditation requirements and $1,000 minimum make it beginner-friendly. Plus, it has a strong track record, and wine is a popular alternative asset class that lets investors diversify away from more traditional investments.
That said, investing with Vinovest is a long-term strategy, even with the option to sell early. Wine takes time to appreciate, and it's the final years that make a vintage more valuable, not the earlier ones.
Ultimately, you can consider diversifying a portion of your portfolio with asset classes like wine. And if you don't want to deal with the headache of storing and insuring wine yourself, Vinovest is worth trying.