Interview with Billy Galanko from Vint

This week Horacio sat down with Billy Galanko from Vint, the popular & growing fractional wine investment platform. He is a professional sommelier who now has an (awesome) role as Vint’s Head of Wine.

In the chat, we discuss:

  • How Billy parlayed an Upwork ad into an investment into Vint, and later Vint’s first full-time role
  • The ins & outs of high quality wine acquisition from merchant partners,
  • Why whiskey is more difficult to source than wine, but more impervious to damage
  • The possibility of professional grading of bottles
  • How Vint is exploring NFTs with utility — including potential ownership of not just wine but other cool benefits
  • Thoughts on opening up a liquid secondary market
  • What Billy is personally investing in
  • Upcoming offerings, including the Napa Collection w/ Screaming Eagle, some Northern Rhone varieties, and a unique whiskey collection with 36 bottles of Japanese whiskey, all with with beautiful, unique artwork.
  • What Vint’s roadmap looks like, including potentially investing in pieces of vineyards themselves.

You can listen to the podcast through Spotify or YouTube.


[Horacio Ruiz]

Hello, welcome to the Alternative Assets podcast. I’m Horacio Ruiz co-host with Stefan. Today we will be talking with Billy Galanko, head of wine at Vint. Vint fractionalizes shares of the most sought after wines and spirits. Vint launched its first offering in June and sold out in less than one hour. Four months later, we’re here to talk with Billy to find out what Vint is all about and what it has planned in the coming months. Billy, thanks for being here.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, thanks for having me.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Billy, when I first heard about Vint, I was like, there’s no way that we’re going be fractionalizing wine and champagne and even whiskey and which we’re going get into. Could you tell me a little bit about how you got involved with the company and what it means to be the head of wine there?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, when I heard about the concept, I was excited as well. But yeah, so we basically got in touch. It was all the way back in March. It feels like a long time ago. I guess it’s only been a little over nine months, but I was on a freelance platform called Upwork. And I had just passed my WSET 3 exam, which is a wine education exam. Kind of like the quarter master sommeliers. So basically, I was on Upwork and looking to do more wine writing. And Nick reached out to me to write some articles for Vint. And we sat down, he started giving me the spiel about what Vint was all about. Kind of how they’re going to fractionize airs, potentially even looking in down the line to, like you were saying, selling whiskey, even potentially fractionalizing vineyards, way down the line. I thought that was really interesting. And rather than just asking more questions to try to write for them, I actually started asking questions from more an investor point of view. So I actually ended up investing in the company before I even worked for them just because I thought the idea was so interesting. And then from that day forward, I basically started working on kind of a pro bono basis for the next two months. And then after the first collection sold out, end of May, and everything started really going, they asked me to come on full time. And I was the first full time employee of the company outside of the founders.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Wow. So when I see the title head of wine, to me I feel like that’s a huge responsibility for a company that’s fractionizing wine, or that’s named Vint and that’s kind of what they do. What does that mean? Like, I mean, are you out there sourcing the wines? Are you making recommendations on what to acquire and fractionalize? Are you kind of the point person that with other vineyards or other experts in the field that, “hey, maybe you might want to take a look at these wines”, what do you do on a day to day basis?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, so I was lucky Nick and Patrick are founders, did a good job of putting together a wine investment committee before I joined. So we have two masters of wine. Adam up here and Amy Christine. And then we also have a couple of merchant partners. Kevin Sitters is based here in the US. He runs Vin Connect. And we have another partner named miles Davis who works for wine owners in the UK. So we kind of have this network of people who’ve been dealing in these fine wines for decades. And then myself, I’m a certified sommelier WSET diploma student. And then I’ve been researching wine and very deep in the space for years now. So between myself, I kind of start the baseline of what we’re going for and any collection I put together based on market research and what I’m seeing in terms of availability in the market. I put together a couple of themes and we run them past our board, or I guess you would say the wine investment committee. We kind of get their feedback, a little bit of their past experience, what they’re seeing in the market and any sourcing advice that they might have for these wines. And then from there, we narrow down which collections we’re going to choose. And we basically have a list of anywhere from three to six potential collections that we bring to our merchant partners. And from there we see where we can get the best value, the best bang for our buck and in order to pass that down to our investors. So we’re really looking for the highest caliber quality of wine within the collections that we choose whether that be producer vintage or basically quality. Like original wooden case is something we look for in wines. And then we work with our partners to see what’s available, what quantities and at what price can we acquire these?

[Horacio Ruiz]

What does that mean, original wooden case?

 [Billy Galanko]

It’s basically – I don’t know if any of your listeners have ever seen it, but it it’s just like a wooden box where that, with different slots for the different wines. So if it’s a six pack, it’ll be kind of this long rectangle where six bottles are laid down inside. But typically what this means is it came directly from the Chateau or whatever the producer is. So it’s almost a sign of the utmost provenances. Typically wines, once they’re in these boxes, aren’t resold in just like a piece. They’re either taken out and sold a couple at a time or they’re sold as the full case. So it’s, it’s really a provenance symbol. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. That’s cool. It’s almost like the authenticity is there, right. And I don’t know how to compare to something else, but like a letter authenticity, it’s like, you know where it’s coming from.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, yeah. I’m trying to think of a lateral. But it basically pictures something that if it came in and you take it out and you put it back in, it wouldn’t be the same. And you’d be able to tell. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

I noticed your first three offerings that you guys had. You guys had three wine collections, and then you kind of took a little pivot and you went to champagne. And then a couple offerings later you went into whiskey or scotch. What made that pivot? I mean, was that always part of the plan for Vint to kind of not just be a wine company, but to then kind of explore other spirits?

[Billy Galanko]

Yes. So I would say that in our point of view, sparkling wine, champagne, part of that is still wine. So that wasn’t as big of a shift going from still to sparkling. And maybe someday we’ll have a fortified wine or dessert wine collection as well. But moving over to whiskey was always part of the plan. It’s something that number one investors of wine tend to overlap often with investors of whiskey. Also, it’s a really interesting space in that the ways that you can invest are very similar to wine, but they’re less available to most people. So while wine investment is very difficult to get into for most normal people, whiskey investments, even more difficult. And the numbers behind – like values and quantities produce are even more opaque. So for the average investor, it takes a lot of digging and you need to know the right people. So for us, it was always kind of part of our mission to democratise wine and spirits investment is really kind of pulling back the curtain and giving people the opportunity to invest in either really rare and expensive single bottles or groups of bottles of whiskey, or even Casks of whiskey.

[Horacio Ruiz]

You know, I would’ve thought the opposite. I would’ve thought that wine would’ve had a bigger barrier to being a sort of investment. And that whiskey is kind of more of attainable I guess, maybe. Or more something that people can – I don’t know if this is the right word, but relatable. Whiskeys kind of like this drink that you can pretty much pick up anywhere. And same with wine, but it’s just, I feel like whiskey is kind of that common man’s drink. Right. What are the barriers to that? That’s kind of more so than you would find in wine.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, I’d say there’s a number of things. The first piece would probably be just transparency. The top producers of wine each year, you’re going to have – they’re going to clearly put on their label, like this is this vintage, it’s going to come out at a certain period of time. So if I harvest my grapes, say September of 2017, if it sits in barrel for 18 months, you’re going to get the wine out in 2019, spring. So basically there’s a lot of clarity there. And then also the routes through which they sell, there’s these negotiant routes, or it goes straight to the secondary market, which is pretty clear for whiskey. Those whiskeys sit in barrel for so long. And then when they are bottled, and the most expensive ones sometimes they sit in barrel for 20-30 years. And they’re bottled in small runs. Sometimes it’s as small as a single cask. Sometimes it’s a few casks. And all the while there’s a master blender putting together this special mix of, if it’s a couple casts like really to a certain flavour. So they’re going to come out with very few bottles. It’s going to be very inconsistent in terms of the release. Every year you’re going to find like a 12 year and an 18 year released by the big producers. But you get these special bottles and these single vintage quote unquote vintage, like these whiskeys that were basically distilled in a single year. It’s very hard to come across these. And knowing when they’re released and the avenues through which they’re released is very difficult. There’s not this standard channel of these wines going, or these whiskey’s going to market on a regular basis like there is for wine.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Wow. That, that’s pretty fascinating. We were talking about the whiskey and the wine. Kind of got ahead of myself. What are your thoughts on talking about democratising it and making more accessible – investing in fine wines and spirits? What are your thoughts on where wine and whiskey fit into this space? I mean, is it something that – do you see a big future of? Do you feel like that there’s not enough of as you guys are kind of progressing within your journey here?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, no, the alternative investment space in general is very interesting. One of my majors undergrads in college was actually art history. So I’ve invested in some art, even from a young young age. I kind of took some of my little savings and bought a piece of art not too long out of college. But from there, I’ve kind of personally dabbled in crypto investment too. And it’s been really exciting to see over the past few years in particular, there’s not only been more interest around the alternative investment space in general, but a lot of people making certain different types of alternative investments easier. So masterworks is doing it for people for fine art. You’re seeing people like Fundrise do it for houses. You’re seeing Acre Trader do it for farmland. So what we kind of saw in this space is there is not only great value to be found in alternative investments, but you’re also finding more and more people with an appetite or a hunger to kind of get in the space. And most of these alternative assets are very high barrier to entry. Which is why you’re seeing more of these Reg A plus platforms doing it for farmland or art. And we were very surprised to be able to find the space that wasn’t – that’s as lucrative as wine investment and whiskey investment. And not find people already Fractionalizing the actual assets. So that was the opportunity that kind of inspired it all. But it was brought on by this larger wave of alternative investment interest. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

So I guess for the audience that’s listening is why – and sometimes it doesn’t have to be one or the other, it could be both, but why choose wine and whiskey specifically? Is it something you saw in the data? Is it something that you’ve known that the returns are there? When there – like you mentioned, there’s so many other opportunities there for investors.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah. I would say our founder Nick started this process a couple years ago. So when he was getting going, there was a few less opportunities, but when he worked at an investment firm and was studying these different types of assets, and really saw that not only was there an opportunity for great value over time between the supply and demand for wine. What’s really interesting is there’s a single vintage, there’s a finite supply of that wine. So that was one thing. The other part was different producers driving different values in different geographies. So what’s interesting is a wine can cost X in Europe. We could sell it in Asia for X amount or Y amount. And then you can potentially find an arbitrage just selling between different markets, which you don’t typically find with other assets. It’s not like you’re going to be able to sell some farmland overseas and basically get more value for it. You’re still just selling that share. So it’s something that’s transportable, but also finite and has a great supply and demand ratio, because over time people drink the wines. So that’s going to go down. There’s only a finite supply. And it’s something that can traverse the world and kind of transcends culture as well. So there there’s a few unique factors that wine and whiskey possess that some of these alternatives, others don’t.

[Horacio Ruiz]

You mentioned Asia. Is that part of like the plan when you’re off considering what to offer? Wine and whiskey is in demand in different parts, so you’re not necessarily just thinking about the best wine necessarily, but something that’s going to, for whatever reason is in the highest – has shown a higher demand in recent years?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah. We don’t really take specific geographies into account. I guess, per se, in the selection of the wines, there are certain wine, like in recent years, especially in the late 2000, the [inaudible 00:13:17 as you would say, or the early 2010’s, Bordeaux is really taking off in Asia. But it’s more, you’re looking at macro market trends. And then something that you do have to take into account when selling into other markets is provenance and quality of the bottles and the labels. So that’s one reason we keep our wine in London rather than bring it over to the US and holding it here. A majority of our wines are kept in London. So one, we could either resell it in Europe or Asia. As soon as you bring it to the US the value of those wines tends to go down. It’s just a transportation and potential damage to the wine that could happen in transit. And then the other piece is the label quality. And just any opportunity to scuff the label or the neck or the bottle with the foil on top. There are investors, especially in Asia who will really not accept any defects. And so the more pristine the bottles can be the better resale value you’ll have. So that’s one way we take Asia into account. But it’s not in the selection of the wines per se themselves. Because there is a top tier that is valued kind of the world over.

[Horacio Ruiz]

So I’m kind of a baseball junkie. So it’s almost like grading a baseball card, huh? It’s like, almost like the presentation of the bottle means a ton. It could depreciate the value of the wine, even though the wine could taste just as well in a poorly presenting bottle as one that’s pristine.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah. So for investment purposes. Yeah, exactly. And it’s actually funny you say that because we were just discussing potentially grading bottles as they do for baseball cards. It’s interesting. There’s no single central location where they grade wines right now kind of like they do for certain types of cards. So it’s an interesting concept.

[Horacio Ruiz]

You’re talking about like actually grading the bottles?

[Billy Galanko]

potentially. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

Okay. I didn’t think that was even possible, but yeah. I mean you could do that. I mean they’re doing it with video games, right. And that’s blowing up. They’re done it with trading cards for decades now. So yeah. Why not bottles. Interesting also, what kind of damage can be done transporting wine or – does whiskey fall into that? Like where if you transport it, it could get damaged by, I guess the movement or something?

[Billy Galanko]

Whiskey is a little more impervious to damage. Wine’s like a living – I don’t want to call it [inaudible 00:15:29] but it’s living in the bottles. So there’s a number of things that could actually go wrong with wines. I would say it’s on a very superficial level. Like I was saying that any labels can get scuffed or torn or the tops, the foil can get torn. But more importantly if the wine is not kept at the right angle, say the cork dries out and some evaporation occur, you’ll see some oleage which basically means the wine’s kind of evaporating and going down. And the bottle- so if you stood it upright, you’ll see the wine lower in the neck. So fill level is something that’s really important whenever you’re assessing the quality of an old wine. And then last but not least is very important is heat. Wine is very temperamental, especially old wine to temperature shifts. Large swing and temperature and especially warm temperatures. So if say a container – the best wines are shipped in refrigerated containers. But if one, for whatever reason has a fault or something goes wrong or they’re kept in port or somebody leaves the door open, that wine could be damaged. And heats probably the hardest to tell. There are a few signs if it gets for really hot sometimes the corks get pushed out a little bit or something, but I would really say fill level and heat are what would impact the actual flavor of the wine the most. And then then the aesthetics or the other parts that could be potentially damage as well.

[Horacio Ruiz]

I know you recently, you had an offering for it. Let me take a look here, the Bordeaux futures. And kind of like the newest class of wines I came from Bordeaux. How do you go about determining when the right time is to kind of get your return on investment for something like that? For any kind of bottle of wine, do you decide okay after 10 years, 15 years or does it just really depend on the wine? And I know it’s a bit of a silly question, but in my mind if you have this high quality wine, like some of the best in the world, and you just keep it in the bottle for say 50 years, right, Can the wine go bad if you, even if it’s kept in perfect condition?

[Billy Galanko]

Yes. I’ll take your first part of your question, first. The futures is an interesting offering because these wines aren’t even ready to be bottled yet. So basically what we’re doing is buying wines that the Chateau are still aging in barrel, that are still developing ahead of ahead of bottle readiness really. So when we’re looking at vintage cellar wine, we’re really just looking at market trends, market value and trying to get the best returns that we can for our investors. So historically, some of these things like, en premier historically earlier in time, basically you would see some sort of bump when those wines were bottled and available on the secondary market in theory. Over the years, sometimes en premier pricing has gotten really high and there is as much difference between the price of bottle at a – I had en premier and the price of bottle at secondary sale initially. So for that collection in particular, we had to do a really good job of sourcing and trying to find – discover where value lies with the 2020 wines. And it was a really good year wine wise. So it was easy to kind of pick some good ones. But to your other question of do wines go bad. Yes, that is unfortunately something that happens with wines, even the best wines. So one reason Bordeaux is so highly valued is these wines can mature and develop beautifully for 40, 50 plus years. And that means, it’s due to some Tanin and acid in the wine that basically allows it to continue to kind of mature and soften over the years. But if a cork is bad or something else happens, maybe they’re accidentally exposed the heat. But I guess to your point, if it’s in best condition possible, it is still possible that a bottle could be a little off. You’ll see that, especially in burgundy, some old burgundies can be temperamental. But a lot of collectors tend to – that’s why they tend to buy packs. You don’t see as many of the best wines in the world sold as a single. You see them tend to be sold more – or the not the very best, if we’re talking like Domaine de la Romanee Conti, which we’ll get to here, which some of the wines that we’re selling, those tend to be in singles. But you’ll see a lot of wine sold as three and six packs just in case a cork is faulty or something. So you still have the rest of the wines in the collection to drink.

[Horacio Ruiz]

So hypothetically speaking, you can have like this 50 year old wine that’s ready to drink and really expensive, but then it could be a dud. And so somebody might have spent, God knows how much money right, on this bottle of wine, but just because maybe a little defect here and there it’s bad?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, it it’s wild. There’s a thing called cork taint, which is like a bacteria that lives on the bottom of corks that used to be a lot more prominent. Now sanitation has kind of come a long way and almost eliminated it from a lot of quirks. But like that is something that even the most experienced wine drinkers or collectors know that that’s a potential out there. So that that’s one of the many things that could potentially go wrong, but people don’t not purchase wines out of fear that it’s not going to be good. If you’re collecting at this level to consume, you’re aware of the risks and that’s what makes the best bottle so great. Because you’re not a hundred percent sure every time what happens.

[Horacio Ruiz]

That’s great. There’s a little bit of risk involved, even with something that high. You mentioned previously about getting also into vineyard investments. Could you talk a little more about that, and where you might be looking at?

[Billy Galanko]

Right now it’s very much far down the line. The idea there is to be exploring something where we could own a piece of vineyard, and say work with a company or a producer to manage it and potentially either just farm the fruit and sell that off for sale, or potentially bottle wine with the producer and then allow investors to buy shares of that acre per se. So say that we’re at a certain acre you could buy in at a certain price. And each year that – whatever we get for say the fruit would be a dividend. This is just an idea. We’re kind of – it’s not any time soon and not any time in the near future, but it’s just something that can happen. And it’s part of the many layers of the wine industry that are appealing to us. And we’re really interested in exploring all of them and helping our investors gain access to many different asset classes through the lens of wine and spirits that they might not have had access to.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Talking about the investors. I know I’ve spoken to Eric that’s up at Vint, and we talked a little bit about kind of the setup right now, what you guys have. You have your offering, the investors put in by their shares. And at the moment, right, you basically have that – however much you put into the offering, you have it locked up for three to five years, let’s say, right, because that’s kind of how long it’ll be until maybe Vint decides to look for its returns. How do you feel about that model, where investors are kind of putting in their money and they’re holding as opposed to maybe some other fractional companies where they also have a secondary market where they can trade their shares that they buy? Do you see any pros and cons maybe developing that Vint, or you guys kind of working with that model where, hey, give us the money for the offering? We know that this stuff is high quality, it’s going appreciate and when the time is right, we’ll sell it and be able to give you a good return. And I know it’s a bit of a two prong question, but do you see the secondary market popping up for you guys? Or are you happy with the model that you have now?

[Billy Galanko]

Yes. So I can answer both of those. it’s interesting. You actually come across investors – I was actually talking to one on the customer support chat yesterday that was adamant that he only wanted to invest if they could hold the wine for more than three years. So I was like, well, of course we can help you with that. But yes, we are going to be developing secondary trading. It’s on the roadmap, we’ll see based on development, but hopefully H1 of next year. So in the first six months, don’t hold us to that. Development can always hit snags, but we we’re working on the legalities and everything of getting it up and running. We have a broker dealer partnership. So the roads looking good there, and we definitely want to have our consumers – or give the consumers or investors the opportunity to liquidate if they would like to. We always encourage to hold on to the wines, because we’re basically unlike other – I don’t know any other, exactly. I don’t want to name any names or any other platforms, but basically like our model will be to sell when the market is best for those wines to get the best returns or, historically returns if there are returns. So we’re not going to be forced to sell at any one time. If we don’t want to, I guess, is what we’re getting at. We certainly cannot guarantee any form of return, but there are some platforms where if you want to call on your money right now, they’re going to have to figure out what to do with, whether it be wine or any of the other investments you may have, our plan is always for each collection to try to identify the proper time to sell the wines and do the best we can on that side.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. I know that one of the issues with some of the platforms at times is how illiquid even the secondary training could be and how maybe one trader could kind of superficially lower or raise the value of an asset. Have you guys explored those pros and that feedback that you’re getting from that investor says I want you to hold my money for three years. Where do you take that? Where’s that balance that you strike, how you’re able to convey that to the investors, whether they want or not?

[Billy Galanko]

We’re actually really excited about this opportunity because a lot of these different platform you might see the illiquidity comes from the singular asset that they’re holding, being so valuable or being niche in terms of demand. The platform that we’ll build is a little different, because there are some wine platforms now where people try to get trading data, but one bottle of like very expensive wine maybe sold only once every couple of years. So their data points are so small. Whereas we’re going to have this interesting snapshot of different regions, different vintages and different producers, all being bought and sold just in these individual shares. So with our low price point, we could see investors hold a majority of their shares and maybe just reallocate. Maybe they want more Burgundy rather than more Piamonte or they want more American wines rather than European. We’re going to be able to see this trading interest in value wine, kind of a micro scale. So it’s going to allow people to do it without having to sell individual bottles and actually find buyers the market over. Kind of how the market currently is. So we’re actually hoping to become a data source of our own down the line, based on what we see and the trading information that we can garner from our secondary market. It’s something we’re pretty excited about. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

That’s pretty cool. Another development you talked about, and you had mentioned this was your involvement in [inaudible 00:26:20] cryptocurrency and also that comes along with that NFTs. We talked a little bit before the podcast about potential NFT with Vint and what that might look like. Could you talk a little bit about that? 

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, so again, not quite as early days as say something like a vineyard. But we’re just exploring these opportunities. No there’s a number of people who are trying to do NFTs backed by physical goods. And we’ve been exploring talking to a couple producer partners about how we could offer NFTs backed by wine experiences and other opportunities. So what’s really interesting is it’s kind of like what we’re doing with our shares in the first place is, the wines stored in London, you’re buying a share of it that gives you the right to it. That’s basically the same thing that an NFT would be doing in a sense, if you directly linked it to a singular bottle. Which is one way you could do things. The only issue with that is you would need to somehow link the NFT directly to the bottle and make sure that if it’s opened or ever damage or something, or sold that that NFT changes the proper hands. The other way to do it is something like – I don’t know if you’ve seen Gary V’s V friends to give people kind of rights to something over a period of time. So maybe backed by wine, if you own this NFT, you get X amount of wine per year from certain producer or producers. Just like with Gary’s V friends, they allow people to go to VCAN for the next three years. So we’ve been exploring a couple of models. Can’t give any exact specifics right now, because we’re still working on it. But yeah, no, it it’s an interesting space. And I think it’s definitely a technology that’s going be used more and more in the wine provenance space in the coming years. Then we just want to make sure that we’re staying up on everything.

[Horacio Ruiz]

When I hear you talk about Gary V and you’re talking about like maybe utility, right? So when you own – if you own a Vint NFT, you get rights to maybe not to that wine that you purchase, right. That super expensive bottle of wine or whiskey, but you kind of can get the lower product of that, the lower end product of that. Or maybe you get a wine that’s made from a neighboring vineyard. That kind of thing. I guess what I’m trying to do is, when you’re exploring utility, right. NFTs and kind of giving you access to different things, besides just owning a share of a bottle of wine, the opportunities are, not limitless, but there’s a ton, especially when we’re talking about getting together and drinking a good bottle of wine.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah. It’s funny, you actually say that. We’re actually coming out with a line of consumer boxes where at least; we have a pilot come up that hasn’t been officially announced yet. But maybe by the time this podcast comes out we’ll be that. basically we’re going start exploring testing. So basically corresponding companion boxes to some of our collections. So say we have a collection of wines that are – you’re never going to drink them because we keep them in a certain place. And the intention is never to have our investors be able to acquire the bottles. But we are able to work with our producer partners to acquire bottles that either from the same vineyard or right next door, that can correspond or at least the same region. So we’ll have a Napa collection coming out in the near future, that we’re going to have a corresponding box of a pilot of 12 boxes of three Napa producers that we we’ve sourced to kind of go along with that box to kind of bring a more tangible experience. And to your point, kind of bring in, I guess, a little more experiential, in terms of a utility. Yeah, that’s know what I was getting at is one, it could be – you could literally just have it be a tracking of physical one-to-one item. Or we’re actually talking about not even having that expensive bottle in the mix. Like maybe all the value is just purely utility and it’s just giving you a right to certain wines, access to certain locations and the ability to do certain things. Rather than purely backed by an asset or maybe a combination of the two. So to your point, it is kind of endless, and that’s where we’re starting to – we’re working on honing down and kind of honing down what we might want to go with because there’s so many ways, we could take this type of space.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. I mean the NFT space is so wide open right now. And I think artists, right now, or even creators are, are realising it’s not just enough to have a nice, cool picture of something, some of a lion or of a koala or whatever. But that there is value behind – and not that there’s not value in art in the NFTs, but that there’s something tangible. Right. And I think that that’s kind of the next phase of this NFT.

[Billy Galanko]

Agreed. And I think there’s also the opportunity to kind of merge the space too. Working closer with more – some of these NFT producers already. So to your point, maybe you can put your koala on your own wine and then you can have your special wine and that there’s kind of like a dual value there. So we we’ve been exploring all angles of this, and we’ll probably be testing a number of these things over the next year or so.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. So I wanted to get – right now you guys had an offering, let me see, about two weeks ago, right. The DRC collection. And I want to get into that. Before I do that actually wanted to ask you, since you’re the head of wine, do you have a favorite offering that you’ve had so far? Which one, for whatever reason, which one do you just are like, wow, we were actually able to offer this and fractionalize it, and now people own a part of this?

[Billy Galanko]

You’re asking me to kind of choose my favorite child here [laughter]. Yeah. So DRC did just launch last week. I would say that’s probably the easiest one for people to kind of go to. It’s one of the most famous wines in the world. But if I had to kind of break off, I think there – and this is nothing to do with, from an investment point of view, it’s just my personal favorite as a wine nerd. I think, the Spanish collection would have to be my personal kind of interesting favourite up until last year, the first wine, I guess I really started investing with. And I always had found amazingly fascinating with Vega Sicilia out of Spain. To me, it was always considered one of the top wines in the world, and it’s not like affordable, but compared to some of the other wines, like the Romani Conti DRC that we’re kind of selling right now, it is affordable. And so that wine was always really interesting to me. And then we came across – or I learned and read more over the years about pingus too which is a another high quality Ribero Del Duero producer that we also featured in our Spanish collection. So to be able to kind of feature something that I’ve always loved in Vega Sicilia and a wine that was probably the first investment grade wine that I tasted. And to be able to combine that with another legend, that’s really hard to find typically hard to source like Pingus for the good vintages. That was probably, would just be for my wine nerd side. My favourite.

[Horacio Ruiz]

So the Vega Sicilia was the first kind of premier bottle of wine that you ever tasted?

[Billy Galanko]

Like consciously. Like there’s difference between tasting wine and passing, or having a sip at a wine tasting. This was when I had left the York after becoming a certified Som to go work at a winery in Australia. Just basically quit my job and went to go work at Vintage. And I had a friend from college who was a wine maker down there, and we were at his house in Adelaide, and he basically said, go, you can open my wine fridges. He’d been collecting for a few years and just pick out any bottle I wanted. And so I picked out a Vega Sicilia. It was a Valbuena, not a Unico, which Unico’s were in our collection, but I was very surprised he let me open it, and turns out he just wanted to an excuse to open any of his nice bottles. So we had that wine, and it was a blast. And it was the first one that I read about my studies, and I come across and it was just more the confluence of all that, in that experience that really made it one of my favorites and the most memorable in terms of first collectable wines I’ve tasted.

[Horacio Ruiz]

That’s what it’s all about, right? When you get like this feeling of nostalgia and it’s just – you can’t beat that. Transitioning now, last week, you offered up the DRC collection and it’s labeled on the websites it said, the most sought after wines in the world. And you guys had a write up on it, kind of exploring the vineyard and how it’s made, how it’s bottled. Could you talk, give a little bit about what makes this collection that’s still available, what makes it so special?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah. It’s still available at the time of this recording. So is that November 2nd, 9:15 Eastern time? Yeah. So what makes it so impressive, and I guess sought after, will be there’s multiple fold. First thing is just kind of understanding the difference between burgundy and Bordeaux in general. The top wines in Bordeaux are based on a classification system from 1855 that classified producers. So certain Chateau could basically be classified on their own. So if, what’s a good example, Chateau Margaux expanded its vineyards three X. They could still call all of that wine within there. Chateau Margaux and still call it first growth. Whereas in burgundy, basically the vineyards are what’s classified, not the producers. So it goes every, all the way up from general burgundy, it’s called like Borgonia. And it goes up through village premier cru levels or premier levels. And grand cru is the very top tier. So understanding that kind of framework first is I guess, a good basis to start. And then once you get up – so there’s less than 2% of all of burgundy is grand cru. And all of the wines that Domain De La Romanee Conti makes are from grand cru vineyards. So that alone is very impressive. The two top wines that DRC makes are grown in grand cru vineyards that are monopoles. Which means basically not only is the vineyard itself grand cru, but it’s also owned by a single person. And it’s basically an Appalachian unto itself. So the monopole, it’s like a mini Appalachian unto itself, but it’s all grand cru and it’s owned by one person. So the Domine De La Romanee Conti owns a vineyard just named Romanee Conti. And the people will just refer it as Romanee Conti, Romanee Conti, but basically that is a Monopole that they own all in their own. And it produces arguably what some people say is the best burgundy in the world, which if people place burgundy at the very top of the scale, and they’ll say that’s the best wine in the world, that’s up for debate. But it’s really interesting. So they have Romanee Conti as its own monopole and they also have La Tache as its own monopole. Which is really interesting to me. It’s kind of its own vineyard, singularly owned, and it’s kind of like an Appalachian unto itself. And then they also make wines from a bunch of other grand cru’s in the area. So I guess that’s the very first step.

[Horacio Ruiz]

When you say they’re singularly owned, I mean you’re talking about like it’s kind of independently owned? So it’s not I guess corporate or there’s it’s been passed down through history to where it’s a part, been part of a family for generations? What what’s the, with it being, singularly owned?

[Billy Galanko]

Great question. It all kind of goes back to the French revolution. After that period of time, and after Napoleon came to power, basically after someone died, they basically had to divide up their property equally amongst their children. There was basically a pushback against the church and a push back against nobility. So there was a bunch of these vineyards that started being divided and divided like a ton over the years as people – generations pass. So it’s getting down to the point where in burgundy, say like a vineyard will pick Gevery Chambertin is a well-known of grand cru vineyard. Multiple people own plots in Gevery Chambertin. They might own a row of vines. They might own a larger parcel. But basically most of the top vineyards in Burgundy are basically owned by multiple people. And they’re multiple people, either owning as small, as like I was saying at Rowe, some people can own a majority. But it’s really interesting to find a single vineyard, especially a grand cru site only owned by one person just due to these heritage laws and chopping up of the vineyards over the years.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Okay. Yeah. And that’s true, maybe they bought them out. Maybe they bought the other people out or who knows. Right. But like you said, if it’s been going back to the days of Napoleon, over time, I mean, you would imagine that everyone’s left with just a small parcel or something. Not an entire vineyard.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, no. And especially a Romanee Conti the vineyard itself is very special be because it was owned by the prince of Conti. And he actually, the wines were so good, he refused to share them with anyone. He just made them for himself. And even when he had parties, he wouldn’t let anybody else drink it. Which is interesting. And then somehow during the revolution and breaking up over the church time, it was able to stay as a singular parcel. So Romanee Conti in particular was able to be basically owned in the late 1800’s. It was a singular person had owned it all still. And then in 1942, two families decided to make it a – I can’t remember what the French term is, but basically, it’s like a civil agreement of a partnership of ownership. So that way it’s not subject to the heritage breaking up laws. So there’s two families who’ve kind of passed duties on overseeing it down the lines. But since it is like a civil agreement, they’re not legally obligated to chop it up. So that’s something that’s really important and that will maintain the integrity of this vineyard over time. And, I will say that consistent ownership, the chief winemaker has been there since, a long time, basically his father owned it and then he has been on, I think he was in charge since the early 1950s. And then the person actually overseeing the seller itself, just kind of the day to day maintenance of the bottles, making sure ferments and everything are going. He’s been there since 1985. And his father was the Chef De Cave as it’s called in French for the 45 years prior. So there’s just been this amazing consistency with this amazing terior over the years. And then to put like, I guess icing on the cake, they transitioned to organic farming in the mid-1980s and biodynamic farming in 2007, 2008, which is basically means very low intervention, very natural, viticulture and wine making. So it’s basically replenishing the soils and keeping a very healthy biome. So it’s kind of basically making the most out of their amazing terior.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. That’s that’s awesome. Yeah, I mean just the history, the prominence that we talk about before. I mean, it seems like this has it all, so yeah. I just wanted to mention that. I mean, as of today, November 2nd this was the most – your most expensive collection yet that you guys have offered. Eight bottles and there are still 111 shares left. Aach one, just $25 each. So yeah, that’s an impressive story behind that wine.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, no, the other key part, I guess we can get at is Domaine De La Romanee Conti owns plots, or at least manages leases, different parcels and grand cru vineyards in multiple grand cru vineyards. But, even so, each year they only produce a little over 2000 cases of wine total. And then, so three of the wines that we’re selling is from a year where they produced from Romanee Conti. They only produced 386 total cases of this wine like that whole year. So if you multiply that by 12, that’s very few bottles. So that’s why it’s really interesting to, that’s why they’re in such high demand and they can command such high prices for individual bottles because they’re just so few of them and they’re so high quality and people actually drink these around the world. So it’s really exciting to be able to sell a few of these and get our hands on them.

[Horacio Ruiz]

And that’s just, again, all you got to do is hold onto them for a couple years, right? Because of that demand and the scarcity over time, you just, I know you don’t guarantee anything, but it kind of makes sense, right? This stuff, the supply dwindles, and it’s still this amazing wine, the value’s only going to go up. Right?

[Billy Galanko]

Well, historically that’s the trend it’s taken. Yeah. To your point, we can’t guarantee anything, but we like our chances there.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Absolutely. So what next for Vint? Can you talk about any future offerings, anything that might be different or you guys going to basically go looking for more wine collections, looking for more, maybe possibly whiskey?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, no, we have a bunch of exciting things coming up. Like I mentioned earlier, we have a 2018 Napa collection coming up, that’s kind of headlined by more Screaming Eagle. We’ve basically had Screaming Eagle as one of our first wines that we ever sold. It was in our first collection. And we’ve had people asking for the opportunity to invest in more. So we actually have the Screaming Eagle Rouge, you know, it’s just the traditional Screaming Eagle cab. And then we also have the Blanc, the sauvignon Blanc Screaming Eagle, which we’re really excited about along with a bunch of other really high caliber 2018 Napas. After that we have a collection of Rhone wines featuring mainly wines from the Northern Rhone. We have a bunch of what’s called [inaudible 00:43:55], it’s basically wines from [inaudible 00:43:59] made by [inaudible 00:44:00] from different, I guess, special vineyards throughout the area. So that’s really exciting, a little bit of Meritage and some other really high caliber Northern Rhone wines mixed in there, following that we have a Piamonte Northern Italian collection featuring some of the best Barolo’s and Barbaresco’s in the world. And then wrapping up this next batch, we have a Japanese whiskey collection which is actually a collection of 36 bottles that all have unique art. And from what we have seen and not really to our knowledge, does anybody else have all of the bottles together? I’m sure some private collections are out there, but on the market, there are no complete collections of these whiskeys. So we were really excited to work with one of our merchant partners to kind of bring this together over a period of time. And we’re excited to offer that to you, and to our investors as well.

[Horacio Ruiz]

So this is Japanese whiskey, which is in itself awesome. And then you’re saying that these 36 bottles each have like a unique piece of art to them? As a collection they kind of make this whole, I don’t know, painting or they tell a story or something, you know?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah. It’s the 36 views of Mount Fuji. I’m pretty sure is the title of the whole collection. So yeah, each one kind of has a different angle, it represents the mountain and the artists that created that in a different way. So yes, even after the whiskeys emptied from these bottles, I assume somebody will still keep them around and they’ll still be enough interest in potential value in the bottles themselves.

[Horacio Ruiz]

That’s awesome. Yeah. And we talked about previously how important the bottles can be. And I know that this might be like a silly question. So we have wine, champagne, whiskey, and we talked a little bit about dessert wines. Is there another drink, another fine spirit that might be possible? Future offering that we’re not even thinking of?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah. I mean the world of spirits is interesting in and of itself. So there’s people who highly value cognac, there’s Calvados, which is like an apple spirit, a spirit made from basically distilled apple cider. So there definitely – there’s bourbon of course as well, other whiskeys. So there could potentially be a range spirits. There’s definitely the world of fortified wines in dessert wines. And when I say. dessert wines it’s just, they’re still wines with higher sugar content, I guess you would say. But like, Sauternes is an example, like D’yquem is a famous producer and those wines, what’s interesting about those and the fortifiedes is they age forever basically. So like a potential collection, there could be wines dating all the way back to the 1800’s of some of those sweet or fortified wines. So that’s something that’s really interesting and we’ll certainly be exploring the different avenues over time. And we’re not by any means just stuck on regular whiskey. If we were to explore different spirits as well.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Billy it’s been really great talking to you. Learned a lot and really learned a little bit more about what Vint is planning in the future. It’s crazy. Right. It seems like so much has changed maybe for you in the, in the last – I know the first offering was in June. And now we got here about four or five months later, how has it changed in the last five months? And is there anything that we haven’t talked about, about Vints journey, your personal journey through Vint, and what the company, what you guys see coming up?

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, no, it’s been a fun ride so far from qualification in late April. My first collection actually went out in May. So that was exciting. And then, yeah, since then we’ve raised a round of funding that we’re announcing next week. Our team has grown to – it’ll be seven soon. It’s six right now. And yeah, we’ve had multiple producer meetings where we’ve grown our merchant network. It’s been really exciting to basically just initially have met Patrick and Nick and hear their vision and to come on board and to kind of help bring this thing to life. And now we’re 10, almost 11 collections sold, closing in on a million dollars of investment on the platform. And we were optimistic, but I don’t think anybody would’ve assumed we could get this far, this quickly. So we’re excited and we’re excited for the next year as well.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. Thank you very much. But you know what, I want to add one more thing because you guys do such a great job of educating, and informing your investors about what it is that they’re investing in and why it’s valuable. And I know you did that in this podcast as well. That’s the thing that I really enjoy about your platform, the amount of energy and effort that you guys put into your writeups. Even your YouTube videos. And I know you guys do different chats and you guys are so open as well to customers, right, that want to talk to you. So that’s something that I just wanted to mention is, sometimes investors kind of jump in blindly and they’re not really sure what they’re kind of investing in. You guys put the information out there and you’re say, look, we’ve sourced this, we – this is why it’s valuable. This is why we think it’s a good investment. And I just wanted mention that, you know.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, no I appreciate that. And as the team grows, we’re only going to have the capacity to produce more content for our investors, both on upcoming collections, as well as current happenings for the wines that are of past investments. So we’re really excited. It’s something that we pride ourselves on. Especially me, I’m a wine nerd at heart. So I want to be able to teach everyone – this time is a little rambling, but teach everybody what makes a great wine all the way from the vineyard to the winery, to the bottle. Basically I want you to know that more than just one bottle sold for $500,000, 20 years ago, invest in this wine. So hopefully when people come to Vint they learn a lot and they can bring some fun facts to their dinner tables as well.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Great. Well listen, rambling with you is great. Thank you for your time. And I hope to speak to you again soon.

[Billy Galanko]

Yeah, cheers. I appreciate it. Thanks.

Thanks for tuning in. We sure hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please be sure to subscribe and give us a nice review for this podcast. It means a lot.

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Author

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio is a veteran math teacher of the New York City public school system. Prior to teaching, he lived in New Orleans where he worked in sales for the New Orleans Hornets before joining The Institute for Sport and Social Justice to rebuild homes in the Lower Ninth Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He currently lives in Staten Island with his wife, Alicia, his three sons; Oliver, Henry, and Jacob, and their pitt-mi,x Tipitina. In 2019, Horacio published a biography, The White Knight: Calvin Patterson and the Integration of Florida State University Football.

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