Sotheby’s has a long experience of selling high end exclusive wines for years but only through auctions. It is for the first time that they are getting into the retail side of the business. They have now opened a retail store. The auction house bought out Aulden Cellars, the retail wine store on the ground floor of its headquarters at 1334 York Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. This store was designed by Deanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt of Kuhlmann Leavitt Inc, and offers a wide range of wine from $13.95 to $40,000 per bottle.
Sotheby’s first got in to auctioning wine way back in 1994. The laws guiding the auctions then were more stringent. The auction houses could not do it on their own. The state law required auction houses to partner with a store that had held a state liquor license for 10 years or more. Sotheby’s had partnered Sherry-Lehman at the time of their first foray in to wine auctions.
The partnership could not be sustained for a long time and the relationship ended in late 1999. Sotheby’s had to find another licensee and the resulting store was named Aulden Cellars. The store is already in a position to ship to around half of US but plans are under way to expand the business model and open Sotheby’s Wine Shop in other locations as well.