When you've invested thousands of pounds in a case of wine that you're hoping will appreciate in value, it's of paramount importance that your wine is kept in optimum storage conditions. We choose to store all of our wine at EHD London No.1 Bond.
One of the most fascinating things about EHD is the sites rich history. Formerly used as an air raid shelter during the war in 1939, the place where your wine is now safely stored was previously a key strategic target for enemy bombers looking to disrupt the production the RAF's Wellington Bombers and Hurricane Fighters.
The tunnels are now home to the LockeKing Vaults, uncovered and transformed into an approved HM Revenue & Customs’ bonded warehouse by Michael and Stuart Phelps of EHD London No.1 Bond.
Stuart said: “We’d been looking for some time for the right premises for long-term storage. It had to be underground to provide the constant temperature of 11˚ to 12˚C, humidity levels of 65 to 70 per cent and, of course, added security. It was a chance meeting with a local historian that led us to the air raid tunnels. I was given a guided tour of the tunnels and they are indeed dark, long, endless – but truly extraordinary and unforgettable. We are currently using about a third of the mile-long series of tunnels for fine wine storage. At the rate of growth we’re seeing, it won’t be long before all the tunnels are used. There are remarkable reminders of wartime as you turn every corner. Posters, newspaper clippings of Hitler and Stalin, graffiti and instructions for how to stay safe during a raid and where to find drinking water."
I've been there many times myself and it's a real experience, we always welcome clients to take a trip there at some point and it definitely gives you peace of mind to see the place where you're trusting your investment to be kept for the next 5 - 10 years. Before the transformation of the vaults there were 17 parallel tunnels burrowed into the hillside, each tunnel had its own entrance in the quarry face with a 50-foot doglegged access tunnel, incorporating an airlock leading to the 180 foot long shelter tunnels. Further shelter space was provided with three cross tunnels linking the main tunnels. Just to reveal the main entrance over 200 tons of earth had to be moved and at the end of the war every tunnel entrance was sealed with steel rods and reinforced concrete, which all had to be taken away. Over 10 miles of new lighting cable has been installed to lift the gloom of the tunnels and allow customers the chance to check on their investments!
Former Christies of London cellar manager James Temple is EHD’s resident expert and he says: “These vaults provide a storage facility that reflects the critical importance of wine storage, ensuring that any connoisseur, collector or enthusiast receives the enjoyment that the vineyard hoped to achieve from the very first grape harvested.
EHD’s main warehouse currently stores in excess of 300,000 cases of wine on behalf of over 300 clients, ours included. Aside from fine wine merchants such as ourselves, other customers include major auction houses, premier brands, retailers, celebrities and private investors. Last time I spoke with Steven I was told that business growth has doubled the company's capacity in just two years!