The heavy entry door is surrounded by a smooth grey stone facade, bare except for the unit number, an intercom box, and an intimidating fingerprint scanner. Welcome to 13C, an exclusive, state-of-the-art wine storage facility.
The unmarked location is a stone’s throw from Vancouver’s busy Main Street, but once you step inside, the noises, smells, and distractions of the city evaporate. Closed-circuit television cameras record all activity inside and outside. The sophisticated security and scientifically controlled environment safeguard members’ reserve collections while offering unparalleled private access any day of the year, at any time of the day or night.
13C’s founder and owner Drew Malcolm, does not have a background in the wine industry. In fact, his primary business interests lie in sales and marketing, e-commerce, and real estate investment. His path to 13C was indirect, yet fortuitous – although not at first.
When an electrical failure destroyed his wine collection in 2010, Malcolm began searching for off-site storage that would be accessible 24-hours a day and found such a facility did not exist in Vancouver.
Sensing a new business opportunity, Malcolm began to tour various facilities around North America, all the while noting the best features of each, and working with mechanical engineers to design a climate—control system. In 2010, he invested in the building, gutted it, and over the next two years insulated the walls and ceilings to create “a very large refrigerated box,” which he would transform into 13C.
The facility has a stylish industrial-chic aesthetic. It is situated below ground level and houses a series of 500-square-foot zones — each with a digitally controlled thermostat and cooling unit which holds at a constant temperature of 13°C. There is no natural light and the humidity level, maintained between 65-75 per cent, is delivered via an ultrasonic mist that auto-dispenses as conditions require.
While wine storage is the primary service 13C offers, collectors who store wine there benefit from an added perk. Before reaching the lockers through the front entrance, there is a tasting room, set at standard room temperature. It is comfortably furnished with an extensive library of wine books, and a beautiful wooden table made from reclaimed Douglas fir. Members may enjoy the room at no extra cost by merely booking it ahead of time. With each locker individually bolted and alarmed, members hold the only keys to their treasures. Lockers are constructed of rough-hewn tongue-and-groove pine and birch with a highly lacquered finish. Black metal deadbolts are the single contrasting colour, and the overall effect is one of a striking geometric art installation.
The lockers include custom racking, from the eight-case starter up to a 275-case room equivalent to a generous walk-in closet. The mid-range sizes hold 16, 24, 32, 48, and 96 cases.
For those who prefer to remain anonymous, the option of pulling into sub-ground private parking behind the building gives them the freedom to enter and leave—with those at a street-level none the wiser.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, PORTFOLIOY.YVR Business & Entrepreneurs Magazine, and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at [email protected].
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