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 complex security and scientifically controlled environment safeguard members’ personal 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. What he found was local temperature-controlled facilities that did not offer open access to one’s own collection, and thus the seed was planted for a new business venture. Research included touring 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, is situated below ground level, and houses a series of 500-square-foot zones — each having its own 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 which auto-dispenses as conditions require.
While wine storage is the main service 13C offers, collectors who store wine there benefit from an added perk. Before reaching the lockers through the front entrance, there is a common room, set at regular room temperature. It is furnished with fine glassware, plates and cutlery, dishwasher, fridge, leather lounge chairs, television, AV, 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 simply by booking it ahead of time. With each locker individually bolted and alarmed, members hold the only keys to their personal treasures. Lockers are made of rough-hewn tongue-and-groove pine and birch with a highly lacquered finish. Black metal deadbolts are the only contrasting colour, and the overall effect is one of a striking geometric art installation.
The lockers include custom racking, from the eight-case starter all the way 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 street level none the wiser.
Photo’s by Adam Myhill via 13C.
(This article was originally published with my byline in HLM Magazine).
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Communications, publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, and multiple digital lifestyle blogs. She is a content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist in the luxury lifestyle niche. She is a regular content contributor to Retail-Insider and has a vast freelance portfolio including Boulevard English & Chinese editions, Indulge, and Montecristo Magazine. When not attending high-profile events in Vancouver's 'Luxury Zone’ or on assignment abroad, she is honing her plant-based cooking skills and caring for her email@example.com