The mega yacht wine cellar


A couple of weeks ago, I happened to randomly meet a woman who manages the wine cellar on a mega yacht. The woman in question wished to remain anonymous and didn’t want to divulge who she worked for, but it was a very wealthy billionaire that was probably someone in this list. The conversation offered a glimpse in to a world that on all points awed, repulsed, and astounded me as given that I’m a writer and even the best paid of us aspire to some day own a home.

For those unfamiliar with the “mega yacht” these are private boats bought by the super rich that start at 60 meters in length and go up from there. Bored with owning sports teams, small islands, and perhaps mini giraffes, the world’s super rich (ie the 1% of the 1%) started turning to these ginormous boats in the late 1990s to show who could out penis extend the other with boats these days reaching up to 200 meters in length naturally prompting the question, “Is that a deep water port in your pocket and if not, how much will it cost to build one?”

The insane initial sticker shock of these boats at $50 million on up is just the beginning. The cost to actually run one is ongoing and never goes down. I was told by this woman that the general rule of thumb is that yearly running costs are 10% of the price. So, a $50 million boat will cost about $5 million a year to keep afloat and motor about the world. Naturally, this doesn’t fully take in account how much it costs if you use it often as each fill up will run half a million dollars or more. Naturally anyone can see the appeal to the billionaire’s club given that buying Fabergé eggs is expensive, but a one time cost. If you front a mega yacht, it means that you continue to be mega rich and aren’t some bling-of-the-moment kind of rich.

At one point I tried to maintain residences on three continents (which really meant having a change of clothes and minor furniture strewn about the world) but in doing that, it’s hard for me to see the appeal of these floating skyscrapers. Of course, these guys have massive crews taking care of all of that and strive to essentially create a floating five star hotel for the mogul in question to be whether they want it to be in the world.

This brings us back around to the wine cellar. I was told that the specific mega yachter in question budgeted 250,000€ a year to supply the cellar. Buying a house that cost that much would make me save for quite awhile and despite drinking several hundred bottles of wine a year, I can’t even fathom how you would spend that much a year on wine.

The simple answer is that you buy very, very expensive wines, primarily from France. If you’re buying 1,000€ bottles of Bordeaux and Burgundy, then you can see how that total gets swallowed up quite quickly by a “scant” 250 bottles. And it confirms what most suspect in that in general, the rich buy solely based upon price and little else. To show off an exquisite 60 or 90€ bottle from Priorat would mean little to super rich friends if they’ve never heard of it. But show off some Premiere Cru from Bordeaux that their people were trying to bid on as well and you get rounds of applause regardless of whether or not it’s a better wine.

In truth, this conversation didn’t grant me any greater insight in to the world of the rich other than to stick some monetary amounts to things which are indeed staggering and it confirmed what most of us long suspect in that while you may be able to hire those with it, you probably still can’t buy taste.