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Investing in wine

September 18, 2017, 11:09 am

As the long-awaited harvest season begins in Colorado’s wine country, many of us are starting to daydream about heading west, perhaps to Palisade and the Grand Junction area, to take a vineyard tour and enjoy a glass or two of Colorado’s finest homegrown wine.

Shelley Ford

Shelley Ford

According to Scientific America, the oldest fermented beverage known as the “9,000-year-old rice and honey wine” was identified in shards of pottery in Central China.  Since that first known glass of wine, we have certainly come a long way.  In the U.S., wine sales are growing at an average rate of 12 percent with Colorado wine drinkers consuming more than the U.S. average.

Colorado’s wine industry has been steadily growing for years; there are now 146 wine producers in the state. It is estimated that the contribution of the Colorado wine industry to our local Colorado economy is around $21.1 million from direct wine sales.  Setting aside the pleasure many of us get from drinking wine, should we consider investing in wine and how do we go about doing it?

There are a number of ways to invest in wine. First, there are a handful of companies that are traded publicly on the U.S. markets. Second, some winemakers may be seeking family investors or private equity funding to fuel their expansion. Finally, there is the acquisition option. Many vineyards began as family operations or small businesses.

For the savvy investor with a high tolerance for risk, acquiring a small vineyard either to operate or simply improve and sell may be a viable option that could potentially bring returns. For others, spirit companies could be considered as part of a well-balanced portfolio.

It’s important to understand that if you are truly interested in investing in wine, there are three main considerations to weigh before making a decision:

Is there a market for the wine you are purchasing? A market must exist where the item can be bought and sold on demand. Liquidity is part of this – the time lag that is required to sell a wine and the costs of doing so.

Would your investment be durable? You might hold your mutual funds for years, but you will want to make sure that your wine investment will have some lasting value as well. According to some experts, wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy are some of the most-sought-after wines in the world and therefore have lasting value while wines from countries like Italy or Australia may not hold the same.

What would price variability look like? This refers to the price that you will get on the open market when you sell the wine and whether or not it will exceed the cost of obtaining and storing the wine.

Thanks to wine lovers around the world, wine remains an industry that holds appeal for some investors. Of course, like most investments, this asset class carries significant risk. The wise investor will have to consider various options, look closely at both industry trends and individual companies, and decide whether or not to take a taste.

Shelley Ford is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Denver. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.  Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. Alternative Investments are speculative and include a high degree of risk. An investor could lose all or a substantial amount of his/her investment. Alternative investments are suitable only for qualified, long-term investors who are willing to forgo liquidity and put capital at risk for an indefinite period of time. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC.

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Shelley Ford

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