Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – Filip Opdebeeck was struggling three years ago to convince people that his idea of renting out space to store wine in a former bank vault on the Rue du Rhone in Geneva would work. He was certain the city holds enough people living in apartments without decent wine storage space, who like good wine, want to own bottles and be able to select one for dinner. I wrote an article about him after meeting him at Arvinis, the wine fair in Morges in April 2007, where he was working with Domaine des Muses, one of Switzerland’s top wineries. A lot of potential clients, he told me when I met him, would be people working in the financial industry in Geneva – people who would understand about risk, consumption, and who would enjoy the idea that they were either getting pleasure from drinking their fine wines, or enjoy the investment risk of stocking some that might go up in value.
Your average Geneva wine-lover has nowhere to store fine bottles at home
But he was adament that it was not just a well-heeled group of investment-oriented people or snobs who would buy his idea: he was looking for those who simply love good wine and have nowhere to store it properly, and who want to have access to their wines. I was struck by his arguments, for I spent seven years in apartments in Paris where there was no space and the temperature was always far too warm to keep good wine. I wrote about wine and traveled in France, and to my great frustration buying a bottle that would be good in two or three years was never an option. Buying six was even less of an option!
When I moved to Switzerland I lived in an apartment that came with a cave, or storage room, but the building’s heating pipes ran through it. I mistakenly stored what should have been a beautiful top line 1981 Bordeaux there, which taught me a sad lesson.
The ex-pat who leaves town can’t always take his wine with him
Opdebeeck believed another group in the Geneva area would be interested: expats who have bought fine wines while living in Switzerland, then move away. They store their wines with him, paying a reasonable monthly fee. They can ask him, from abroad, to add to their holdings and ship in small or large quantities, as desired.
Those among the international population who have discovered the beauty of learning about Swiss wines by traveling around the country and bringing back a carton each time, the Geneva storage vault offers a nice option for managing their stock. Opdebeeck knows his fine Swiss wines, as well as world wines.
Opdebeeck called the business, which he opened in 2007, Au Bonheur du Vin.
One part of it is a bourse, where people can buy or sell their wines. Opdebeeck, who is an oenologist and who earlier worked as a rep for some of Switzerland’s best wineries, counsels buyers.
His faith in the business model has paid off, if the New York Times has it right, and in any event the article which has just appeared, featuring his buy-store-have delivered business is bound to be a wonderful bit of publicity for this young (30) entrepreneur. Bravo, Filip!
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