Fine Wine Auction

Hello All,

I wanted to know if anyone had any insight on how to get into the Fine swine Auction side of the industry (I.e Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Zachy’s etc)

I find that this isn’t a part of the industry that’s talked about much (especially on the floor). It also seems to be a part of the industry that’s so niche (& less known about), getting in would require more education than experience and of course knowing the right people (networking)

How could one transition into the Fine Wine Auctions?

My background is a BS in Hospitality Management & Business minor. I’ve currently been working to the floor for the last 3 years after graduating to get a solid foundation on the industry at the customer level. Would love to consider transition. Wouldn’t mind going back to school for my Masters (I’ve noticed most auction professionals have their Masters degrees)

Thanks!

  • Hi Bryanna,

    I do not work for an auction house, but I participate actively as a consumer and have noticed how the local auction houses (here in Denmark) tend to work. I'll go out on a limb and say that the major auction houses you named function in similar ways.

    95% of the work that goes into a wine auction is related to things other than the actual auction itself (whether it is an online or in-person auction). Finding which of these areas you are most interested in might be a good place to start. The auction business has two "value chains": the part that deals with selling wine, and the part that deals with the underlying business of the auction house. Below, I've tried to summarize them as best I can.

    Selling

    Sourcing -> Storage -> Pricing -> Lot creation -> Sales -> Fulfillment

    • Sourcing includes finding potential sellers, acquiring the right wines, and confirming condition/authenticity of the wines
    • Storage is keeping the bottles in a safe and controlled location until a sale can be completed
    • Pricing is determining the price at which bidding should start, and the estimated value of the lot
    • Lot creation is putting one or multiple bottles together in a lot, and then aggregating all of the lots into an auction
    • Sales is the actual auction (or direct sale)
    • Fulfillment is ensuring that the buyer gets their wine, the seller gets their money, and the auction house gets their commission

    Business (not a linear flow of tasks)

    Customer relations - Marketing - Business Strategy - Back office (finance, HR, etc.)

    • Customer relations is maintaining a solid network of potential buyers and sellers that are the core of the auction business
    • Marketing is creating material and ensuring that the right target sellers/buyers are aware of the auction house's offerings
    • Business strategy is figuring out how to grow the business, reduce costs, and which markets (geographical, wine type, customer type, etc.) to enter
    • Back office is ensuring that everything runs smoothly

    These are extremely simplified explanations, and I hope someone in the auction industry can shed some more light! I hope this helps and gives you a bit more to work with on your career search.

  • Hey Bryanna!

    I am a wine specialist with Sotheby's in NYC feel free to shoot me an email if you'd like to chat further jlelgart@gmail.com 

  • Hi Bryanna! 

    I actually work for Zachys in their DC office. I'd love to chat with you , my email is vphillips2013@gmail.com. 

  • This topic would make a great Guildsomm podcast!