CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – From Pinot to Zinfandel, a warehouse in east Charlotte is now being used as a storage facility for wine collectors. The facility wrapped up an expansion about a year ago and is already planning a second expansion as business continues to grow.
Cork Vault operates with a locker system. Each locker is stored in a “vault” like type room where access can only be gained if your thumbprint is registered within the security system.
From the outside of the building, it looks like any other warehouse in East Charlotte, but it’s anything but.
“We are private wine storage for collectors,” said Cork Vault owner, Bill Bounds.
Cork Vault opened 4 years ago, offering customers a place to not only sip wine but securely store it.
“Behind me here we have a chilled warehouse with lockers built into it,” said Bounds.
Using a 007 style security system, a thumbprint lets you in and cameras monitor your every move. As you walk towards your locker you’ll find hundreds of others. There are two rooms full of lockers, each keeping the spirits at a cool 55 degrees with 70% humidity.
Some of the wine stored at the facility is decades old and valued at thousands of dollars.
The storage space doubled last November in the middle of the pandemic. Business was booming from customers looking for a wine cellar outside of their homes.
“With mortgage rates going down, people buying and selling houses like crazy last year, we are very fortunate for it, but that meant we are packing up a lot of wine,” said Bounds.
Right now there are more than 100,000 bottles being stored at the warehouse with room for hundreds of thousands more. The largest locker currently holds 2,500 bottles of wine for one collector alone.
The concept is a niche market with little competition in the Carolinas.
“This idea came from basically larger markets, so I had seen it before in bigger cities like New York and San Francisco,” said Bounds.
Despite the expansion, there was one point the Pinot’s and other wines were almost spoiled by the pandemic.
“I was really scared in March and April. I had a couple of part-time people working with me so I sorta helped them get to better and safer places, but then our business just kept growing,” said Bounds.
While the labor of moving cases of wine continues, and a third expansion on the horizon, the job still brings Bill Bounds some joy.
“To help facilitate people in enjoying the thing they enjoy most in life that is really fun,” said Bounds.
Bounds makes house calls and will transport wine from wine cellars into the lockers in East Charlotte.
Clearly, wine is better with age, and Bounds explained that it is possible some bottles of wine in the secure warehouse could stay in a locker for decades before it is opened.
To ensure that the “vaults” stay at the correct temperature, there are two industrial-sized backup generators at the facility to ensure there is a power source in the event of a power outage.