Saturday, April 30, 2016

The 5 First Growth Wooden Wine Crates

In 1855 Napoleon named that the best vineyards in all of France were the following:
  • Chateau Haut-Brion
  • Chateau Lafite Rotshchild
  • Chateau Margaux
  • Chateau Mouton Rothschild
  • Chateau Latour
He called these vineyards the First Growths. The next best of Bordeaux are called Second Growths, the third best are Third Growths, and all the way up to Fifth Growth.

All growths are Grand Cru vineyards which are considered the finest in the world. The First Growths are the best of Grand Cru.

Most Grand Cru vineyards make wooden wine crates to store and protect their bottles in transit. Since all of these wines are imported from France, there's a great need to make sure none break during their sea voyage.

Each vineyard has something unique and special about it, and their wine crates reflect this individuality. Chateau Haut-Brion for example is a different shape than any other wine crate. It's shorter and wider than the other four. The crate most similar to an Haut-Brion would be the Chateau Y'quem 12 bottle, but no other crate is quite the same.

Mouton Rothschild typically makes slightly larger bottles than the others, so it's a bit longer and taller. On occasion Latour makes a larger bottle and crate format as well. It's more or less vintage-specific.

Margaux and Lafite stick to the standard for the most part. They come out with the same sized crate just about every year.

Obtaining all 5 First Growths in one collection is very difficult. This is mainly because investors and collectors buy them by the case and don't release them until it's time for auction. When you sell the wine complete with the original crate your going to have a larger profit margin. Not only are you offering the complete collection, but it's a solid indication that a good quality of provenance was maintained. Holding your wine in an original crate keeps the bottles cool, dark and safe.

If you're able to find all 5 First Growth wine crates in one collection it's an investment in itself. It's not uncommon that you'll find a collector willing to pay a significant premium for one or all of them at once. This happens all the time.

The one thing you can't go wrong with is that all will look great in your wine room or cellar. This is especially the case if your a Bordeaux enthusiast. You'd be able to display the best of the best, and everyone will wonder how in the world you acquired them!


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Wine Crates Vs. Wine Boxes

The Difference Between Wine Crates and Wine Boxes

I've been selling original wine boxes and crates for nearly 12 years now, and I always strive to simplify the differences between the various sizes and styles they come in.

The wine world is huge and every winery is looking to stand out. This is especially the case with New World vineyards such as the ones in Napa Valley. Even the Old World wineries change up their bottle sizes, as well as how they package them from time to time making the whole process somewhat confusing.

Because of this there's several different wine crates and boxes because there's so many different wine bottle formats:

As you can see, there's a total of 13 sizes! The majority of wine bottles you'll see are the standard and magnum sizes, but there's plenty of wine boxes and crates made for the others. My challenge has always been what to call them. Are they wine crates or wine boxes?

A client once asked me "How many wine boxes come in a crate?" I explained that one crate is a crate and one box is a box. I felt my explanation wasn't very good and she wasn't following me either. Suffice it to say the sale was lost and I needed to find a way to clear things up.

During the sales process, If a client is clear on what they want and calls a wine crate a box or vice-versa I go with it. This happens on occasion, but it got me thinking: How many people are confused by the difference?

Unfortunately there's no mainstream definition between the two. Is a wine crate also a box? In taking creative license I want to explain how I personally see it. Here's what I've come up with:

Wine Crates

Has two longer sides and two shorter sides

I feel this is a crate based on how it's shaped. It reminds me of the old crates from the prohibition era. It's designed to hold 12 standard Bordeaux 750ML bottles.

Interesting fact:

I used to call this a 12 bottle wine crate on the website until a client asked me if our price was for 12 crates. I told her the price was for one, but the crate holds 12 bottles. She told me I need to simply this. She asked: Why not call it a large wine crate? . I changed the name and it worked almost overnight. Everyone seemed get it. That was great advice and I appreciated it.

I also call a single bottle a crate because it's a smaller version of the large one. I call this a small wine crate.

When it comes to either wine crates or boxes the shape and size is what I feel is the most important aspect. One thing to note is that most wine crates come from various regions of Bordeaux.

Wine Boxes

All sides are about the same size

I call this a wine box because of it's shape as well. This one is made to hold 6 bottles of wine, and I call it a medium wine box for simplicity. Wine boxes come from many different countries so they vary a bit in size. Where most wine crates come from Bordeaux or other parts of France, wine boxes come from many different countries such as:
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Australia
  • South America
  • Napa Valley

There's also wine boxes from Portugal, but many Port vineyards change their bottle sizes a great deal every vintage. This makes them very hard to define.

In any event, feel free to give me a call if you have a project which requires one or the other. Both have distinctive differences and can add a nice wine-themed accent to your home or wine cellar.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Guide to Buying Wine Crates

Large wooden wine crates are made by vineyards to protect their best bottles. They cost considerably more than cardboard boxes, but are much more durable and are a great way for a winery to display itself. Branding on wine crates was the very first and most ingenious way to advertise.

Your going to find that Grand Cru wineries make the majority of the large wine crates. Here's a few as an example:

The logo design styles vary based on the history of the vineyard. Some of the artwork branded on large Bordeaux wine crates date back before the Renaissance era. The Chateau Du Tertre as an example has an ornate cote of arms from the 12th century.

When you go online to buy wine crates you want to make sure they're original and authentic. Here are the indicators:

1. There's artwork on the front 13" side. If there's no artwork it's not genuine.

2. The pine wood is solid and has no gaps in the sides like a fruit crate.

3. Has subtle differences in grain colors. Pine wood harvested in Bordeaux is unique and diverse. As an example, The Le Petite Lion has a rich two-toned red color, whereas the Chateau Grand Puy Ducasse has a lighter, tiger-striped look.

As a matter of quality you want to make sure that the stickers, tape, staples etc. have been removed. Ideally you'd like there to be as little patina as possible, and there's few if any cracks on the bottom or sides. You can remove alot of patina with a light sandpaper, and apply wood filling to small cracks.

On the other hand, older wine crates with patina can make for an attractive look for home decor. This is more at the discretion of the buyer. Personally I enjoy the newer look of a wine crate but this is a preference of taste.

The cost for large wine crates range between $20 - $150 each depending on type and what it includes. If the lid and wood inserts come with a 2nd - 5th Growth it's usually $30 - $50. A First Growth can cost anywhere between $75 - $150 depending on vintage and condition.

If your looking to buy large wine crates at wholesale feel free to visit

There you will find wine crates for sale by the pallet or half pallet at a lower cost than average. This way you'll have plenty for your own projects or you can purchase them for re-sale to your customers!

Any questions? Feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call