If you love something, let it go, right? Maybe’s that’s one perspective—still working on grasping the logic in play there. But there’s another perspective, practiced by whiskey hunters and wine collectors with relish: if you love something, buy a hell of a lot more of it than anyone else.
Of course an issue shows up almost immediately in the world of serious wine collectors: fakes. We won’t get into that here, but whether a collector intends to or not, it’s often incredibly hard for even a solid wine enthusiast to determine the authenticity of a bottle that’s a century old.
So while, yes, controversy can indeed abound in serious wine collecting, quality also abounds, which is why among these 10 big league collectors you’ll find bottles that are centuries old, extremely rare, or just—and most often—extremely delicious. Dive in, beware of dust, be jealous. It’s the wine cellar gone mega.
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Adi Werner, owner of the Arlberg Hospiz Hotel in Tyrol, isn’t just a hospitality expert. Dude loves his wine—Bordeaux and Burgundy, specifically in large format bottles (12.15L and 18L bottles, aka Balthazar and Melchior respectively).
Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United, not only collected thousands of bottles. He sold 5,000 of them in three separate charity events. One single magnum of 2002 DRC Romanée-Conti sold for close to $24,000.
Restaurateur Leslie Rudd has had at one point upwards of 10,000 bottles of wines, all of them from the Napa Valley, in his massive cellar.
Chesapeake Energy co-founder Aubrey Mclendon, who passed away earlier this year, was one of the wealthiest and daring wine collectors. (He also was facing charges of “conspiring to rig bids” on oil and gas leases in Oklahoma.) But Mclendon built a huge legacy of wine, with over 2,000 bottles in multiple cellars, and a net worth somewhere in the range of $2 billion at the time of his passing.
Michel-Jack Chasseuil has a certain set of skills. One of them, collecting a veritable legacy of French wine history (upwards of 40,000 bottles). Another skill: defeating a bunch of home invaders when they busted in and demanded access to Chasseuil’s renowned cellars. All his attackers got was 15 bottles of “second-rate” wine, and the clearly bad ass Chasseuil suffered a minor broken finger.
You may notice a pattern here—what with the billionaire energy moguls and all. But Bill Koch, one of the richest men in America, has an extensive collection—around 45,000 bottles with a backbone of “the best Bordeaux and Burgundy.” Though yes, his collection may have lessened a little bit when Sotheby’s auctioned off a mere…20,000 bottles. But we’re assuming he’ll still make it through the Apocalypse.
You probably know Andrew Lloyd Weber better for that terrifying/joyful experience you had when the cast of Cats broke the fourth wall when you were a child. But dude is also an avid wine collector, and has been since he was a teenager. (Apparently he had fine bottles delivered to him at Westminster High School; puts our Strawberry Boons Farm in seriously grim perspective.) It’s not clear just how many bottles he has, but he’s auctioned off close to 27,000.
Gene Mulvihill is in hospitality in New Jersey, and whatever your thoughts on the Garden State (it’s nicknamed that ‘cause it’s actually pretty…in places), if you want access to his 100,000-plus collection of wines, you might want to visit Restaurant Latour, or his Crystal Springs Resort. One of the largest personal collections out there. (In Jersey.)
Yes, Bern’s Steakhouse Tampa, Florida hosts one of the world’s largest wine collections. The cellar must be deep to survive that Florida heat, because the collection—600,000 and counting—seems to be holding up. Since the list isn’t catalogued, the steakhouse staff is often surprised by random finds (like a 1947 double magnum of Chateau Latour). It also houses some of the last bottles of wine. Like, on Earth.
This collection belongs to Milestii Mici in Moldova, so it’s not quite a person, but it’s insanely impressive. The wine collection is so huge—2 million bottles—and the cellars so vast—250 kilometers, you actually have to tour it in a car. And, PS, should you find yourself in Moldova, the cellars are actually open for touring.