For the love of wine | VailDaily.com
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For the love of wine

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO, Colorado
Dominique Taylor/dtaylor@vaildaily.comLucas Jones uses a computer program to help manage the private cellars of his clients.
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EAGLE COUNTY ” What’s a wine collector in the Vail Valley to do when he wants to drink that phenomenal Bordeaux he knows exists in his collection, but just can’t find it among his hundreds of bottles?

He can rummage through cases and shelves, which could take hours, or he can call Lucas Jones of Jones Wine Cellar Management. Problem solved.

Jones’s Vail Valley company is devoted to the management of residential wine cellars. For those who buy bottles one at a time from the local liquor store, this might seem like an unnecessary service. But for those with walk-in wine cellars and collections that mirror those of some wine shops, the management of such a large inventory is best left to the pros.

“A cellar that large gets out of hand pretty quickly,” said Jones, who runs his company by himself, with some bookkeeping and marketing help from his wife.

Jones started the business last October. The 29-year-old University of Colorado graduate wanted to blend his love and expertise of wine with his computer technology background. In a valley where 10,000-square-foot homes with wine cellars are nearly as common as skiers and mountain bikers, Jones knew he’d be filling an important niche.

Residential wine cellars might look pretty straightforward at first glance. Shelves neatly line the walls where wine is stored in special positions under controlled temperatures. But these cellars need fine-tuning, and Jones’ business does just that.

Using an intricate computer system, Jones can pinpoint pretty much anything the cellar’s owner wants to know about his collection.

Steve Nagelberg says Jones has changed his life ” with regard to wine. Nagelberg, a California surgeon who has a second home in Bachelor Gulch, loves wine. He has cellars in both of his homes, with about 1,500 bottles in each collection. When you’ve got that much wine lying around, it’s easy to imagine that it might become overwhelming when it’s time to decide what to drink with dinner.

“It got to the point where I had so much wine, I didn’t know what I owned,” Nagelberg said. “I had wine piled high.”

Nagelberg found Jones and everything changed, he says. He liked Jones’ work so much that he hired him to take care of his California cellar, too.

“You need somebody who you can trust,” Nagelberg says. “He’s trustworthy, dependable; he does what he says he’s going to do.”

Jones works with an electronic system called ESommelier. A sommelier is a wine expert, most commonly found in fine restaurants. The computerized sommelier is like having that personal expert right in the home.

Looking for a California cabernet sauvignon that is at its peak? The computer system can find it. Want to find all of the 2002 vintages from Bordeaux? Done.

The system also tells collectors a bottle’s market value.

Each bottle that is added to the cellar gets its own barcode. With one scan of that code, Nagelberg can learn just about anything about any particular bottle. When he pulls the bottle from his cellar to drink it, one scan of the barcode deletes the bottle from the inventory.

“It’s a fabulous, fabulous, fabulous thing,” he said. “I don’t waste wine (now) and say ‘gee, I should have drank that two years ago.’ It’s just a spectacular system.”

Jones organizes cellars differently, based on what his customers want to know. If a customer is more concerned about which bottles are the most expensive, Jones will organize the cellar accordingly.

While wine organization is Jones’s main focus, sometimes he’ll help his clients choose the right wines based on their preferences, or he’ll come to their homes to accept wine deliveries and put the bottles away in the cellar. It’s his passion for wine that brought him into the business, and his clients appreciate that.

That passion means Jones helps clients make sure their good wine never goes to waste. Jones says he’s seen people who hold onto wine for too long, so he makes sure his business is there to provide them with the information that will allow his clients to drink a bottle before it’s past its prime.

With five clients, Jones is feeling great about his business. He’s glad he started off gradually, adding about one client per month since he began last year. Now he says he’s into the groove and ready to take on more wine-loving clients.

“I’ve seen a lot of companies grow too fast,” Jones says. “I want to offer really high customer service.”


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