In January 2021 a few cases of the 2000 vintage of Petrus Grand Vin arrived safely back on planet Earth after spending over one year circling the planet on the International Space Station. It sounds like something out of a science fiction story but this is real.
While the grapes were still on the vine, the 2000 vintage on the right bank of Bordeaux’s Gironde Estuary was noted as exceptional. Beyond the obvious consumption and collectability, exemplary wines are often studied for typicity, determining what a wine “should” taste like.
Even 20 years past bottling this outstanding producer’s Merlot dominant wine was identified as worthy of further study. A group of these wines were kept on Earth, to act as the control group. Agricultural products hadn’t been sent to zero gravity environments before and it was unknown what the results would be. Then a few cases, depending on your perspective, drew the short or long straw, and were literally rocketed out of Earth’s atmosphere for temporary holding on the International Space Station. Having already been identified as a great wine, could space travel make it even better, or would the wine fall apart due to advanced aging? These are some of the questions researchers sought answers to.
We picked the boxes up at an unassuming laboratory in Houston, TX. The giddiness shared between the researchers who held the wine temporarily and my colleague and I was palpable. We were some of the only people in the world (and out of it) to know that this project happened at all, and understand the unique experience held by these bottles, and these bottles alone.
The photo may not look like much. Just a couple of black Pelican cases with custom Styrofoam linings that were strapped down before transit. I feel like I should have put on a helmet or put a flag in the ground declaring “Today is a great day for Vine Vault, for Petrus, for space, and wine. Today is a great day!” I’m the guy in the burgundy Vine Vault polo taking the photo. I was a part of history.
In a custom refrigerated van our team safely transported these precious bottles about 10 miles across Houston after they circumnavigated the planet multiple times. Arguably the 10 miles in TX traffic was the most dangerous leg of the journey because there’s no rush hour in space! The truth is we handle all of the wine we are entrusted to move with the same level of care. We know what we are handling, its value, and want to do the customer, and the wine, justice. The van is kept around 55℉ and care is taken not to shuffle, shake, or shimmy the juice in the bottle (certainly much less than re-entry into Earth’s gravitational pull).
These special bottles of Merlot were later taste tested, chemically analyzed, and compared to the control bottles that did not make the intrepid journey. Several of these bottles were then sold at auction garnering some of the highest prices ever seen for wine.
Around the corner or around the planet, it is an honor and a privilege to be the best at handling and moving precious wine. Entrusted to handle one of a kind space wine, we’ll also take the same level of care in handling your most prized bottles.