By Rick Riozza

As the titular Wine Steward of the Desert, it is always incumbent for me to alert all of the wine enthusiasts around to stop, look, heed, & take notice of the long summer season ahead.  We’ve learnt not to cry over spilt milk; but crying over our treasured wines damaged by the heat—that’s on us!

So here’s some chilling news:  The Wine Vault of the Desert is the number one wine storage place in Southern California—and don’t you just love it!—it’s located right around the corner here in Palm Desert!

Good wine storage is not really an arguable topic; although, it would be fun in a debate class challenge to take the position that heat is good for wine.  For instance: “My fellow master debaters—the fact that my hundred dollar Cabernet, once lusciously deep purple, which sat in my garage for a while, is now brown in color, perhaps has taken on versatile qualities . . . in cooking, it may provide a different nuance to my Steak Madeira.”  Good luck.


Wine storage, especially in the desert is common sense. There’s a difference, between storing wine for near-term consumption (a week or two) versus storing it for the longer term. As you would expect, the longer you hope to have a wine last, the more care you need to make sure that your wine lasts as long as it possibly can.

Unless your next career move is to produce Sherry or Madeira wine, never allow a wine to get hot. If a wine gets too warm, two things can happen. First, the wine can essentially cook which will change its flavor in a negative way. Second, as the wine heats, it will expand in the bottle. This can actually cause the cork seal to fail. This might simply mean that wine seeps through or around the cork. In extreme cases, the wine can actually push the cork partially out of the bottle. Once the cork seal has been broken in this manner, not only has the wine gotten too hot, there is a greater chance of it becoming contaminated by chemicals or bacteria.

If a wine gets hot, you should try to drink it as soon as possible. But be prepared to pour it down the sink or “water” your plant if it tastes “off.”

One of the best deals for wine enthusiasts who maintain either a small or large collection of wine is to become members of The Wine Vault of the Desert. It is a state-of-the-art 10,000 sq. foot wine storage facility, with a 24 hour alarm and surveillance system & back-up generator. It has been in business since 2009 and still has room to store 13,000 more cases of wine. And the place provides some really unique services besides simply keeping your wine safe & sound.

Indeed, as you see below, lots of good and fun aspects to being part of the wine vault nation.  My friends, wine wise guys Ralph and Jack, are the owners and are very friendly; they always look forward to taking your call if you have any questions at all.  If you haven’t yet spoken to them—well, call them right now! (760) 345-3000. (With all the services they provide, I’m almost amazed that they don’t also spit- shine your finger-stained bottles …uh, maybe they do?—like I say, give them a call.)

Besides your resting wines enjoying a constant 55 degrees & 65% humidity, look to having them secured and bar-coded for a complete data base and inventory system. This is a great benefit if you haven’t organized your wine collection lately.
Wine Packing, Pick Up and Delivery Service available, and, the facility will accept your wine from wineries, wine clubs, or whatever so that neither you nor your wine has to wait around.

I especially like the fact that they use FedEx, which delivers in the morning.  Now is not the time to receive your wine that has been on a truck for the better part of the day.

The facilities also provide a leisurely office area should you wish to—perhaps grab a bottle of two from your collection and share a taste or so with one of your favorite wine stewards about town.  By the way, I am available.

And now—one of the star benefits is the THE WINE VAULT’S RESTAURANT PARTNER PROGRAM: FREE CORKAGE!  Free at last! Free at last!  Now you can enjoy a great meal at over 40 of the valley’s best and well known eateries where you can bring in your own wine without charge.  Of course that’s great news and you’ll wish to go on-line immediately at to see your favorite diners.  And new restaurants are added continually!  You only have to store A MINIMUM OF TWO CASES of wine to qualify for this program!!

During the hot months ahead, if you’re signing up for the first time, mention this article to Jack or Ralph and get an additional 2 months free storage time. They will be more than happy to show you around the facilities and make the best offer whether you have two or two hundred cases to secure.

The Wine Vault, 77556 El Duna Court, Ste. B Palm Desert, CA 92211 (760) 345-3000.  Email:
Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
After hours, by appointment and off-hour access may be made by either a phone call or email

Rick is your somm-about-town and proudly wears his Wine Vault tee. Contact him at