• The Grand Crew

Top Cellar Management Apps | Epic Cellars

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

Do you remember that time when, for the first time, you bought a bottle of wine that cost more than a happy meal, didn't come in an a cardboard box, and didn't have a screw-top?

Ok, nevermind the screwtop vs cork debate... (which certainly appears to be a more divisive and polarizing debate than the 2016 elections, and will be the subject of another post!)

I am rambling; back to our topic: if you've ever bought wine with the intention of collecting it or enjoying at a later time, you also invested in a wine cellar (fancy name for anything ranging from a tiny 6-bottle mini fridge, all the way to a batman-style underground crypt with capacity for 1000's of bottles).

Now, there are well over 40 apps on the Apple App store alone that claim to do a great job at tracking every useful (and not so useful) detail about your wine.

While tracking every zit on every bottle in your cellar can be immensely fun and perversely satisfying if you're Robert Parker, if you have nothing better to do all day, or if you flat-out have OCD, most of us just want a practical tool to manage a bunch of wine bottles. Period.

In an effort to help you weed through a bunch of apps that do the same thing, The Epic Cellars Grand Crew has done all the hard work...

This article is the first in a series, where we'll be reviewing any and all wine cellar management apps worth your time (and ours)!

We have limited our scope to mobile/mobile-friendly apps, which were designed with tablets and/or smartphones in mind (not your great-grandma's flip phone, obviously).


In order to help you make up your mind, we have rated the apps according to the following criteria:

  1. Features: does the app provide real-world, and useful features? Or is it a basic waste of time and money...

  2. User-friendly: can one get up and running quickly or does it take a PHD in Rocket Surgery to get started with it...

  3. Reliability and performance: does it work all the time, or do you have to say a few hail Marys' every time you try to use it...

  4. Cost: from free/freemium to extortionate highway robbery-worth...

VinoCell




First up in our review is VinoCell, which has been reviewed by a number of outlets by now but still warrants our own take as its makers are always bringing out updates to its feature set and useability.


Key Features

To say that VinoCell has many features would be the understatement of the year. The app seems to cater to the most detail-oriented, anal-retentive collector out there. The developers are French, which might explain it.

Short of planning world war 3, you can do pretty much anything to your crazy liking in this app.

Here are some of the cool features it supports:

iPhone, iPad and

Support for multiple cellars

Customizable rack configurations

Multi-Criteria Filter/search your wine

Expansive wine information fields which include:

  • basic wine info, such as label pics, vintage, vineyard, varietal, region sub region, data fields which may be of interest to the more savy collectors.

  • more advanced info fields, including maturity-related info, tasting notes, barcode, EAN, UPC, capsule color, farming type (huh?), hue, chemical composition info such as SO2 (Sulphites), and everything else you might need in order to come up with the cure for cancer...

  • Ability to add and look up wine ratings

  • Ability to add tastings, and pairings, with over 40 fields to qualify every aspect of your wine: including super obscure qualifiers no one I know would ever use, such as Ph, effervescence (really??), even the hue...

  • Ability to look up retail prices and locations for any wine entered in your collection

  • Sync wine data across multiple devices and keep your data stored in the cloud

  • Import wine lists into your cellar(s)

  • Export your wine to a list




I am not going to go in too much detail about the wealth of features this app provides; the list above barely scratches the surface and caters for more than you'll ever need to do in my honest opinion. I will, however, touch on a couple of features which are worth dwelling over:

  • while VinoCell allows you to look up current pricing and merchants who carry your bottle(s) through Wine-Searcher; arguably one of the largest wine/wine merchant database in the known universe BUT there's a significant caveat; the listings provided by wine-searcher are based on their free tier of service. This means that if you're looking for the cheapest way to replenish your stock you won't necessarily be getting the best pricing... In order to get the true lowest retail cost of your bottle(s), you'd still have to subscribe to Wine-Searcher's Pro subscription (which will set you back $60/year).

  • The VinoCell developers went to painstaking lengths to support just about every possible rack configuration under the sun... every configuration (or geometry, so to speak, can be customized to match any bottle count. Impressive)


One of the many rack geometries supported by VinoCell

  • Besides the fact I never got the data on my IPad to properly sync with the cloud storage or the app on my iPhone, the sync feature also seems to enjoy taking up 30 seconds everytime I open the app, in the form of a popup that just sits there... doing nothing. It is my opinion that this could use some improvement and be done behind the scenes.

  • on the positive side, Vinocell's filter is conveniently accessible and provides a way to filter your inventory in many different ways. An indispensable feature when you're trying to track 100s or 1000s of bottles across multiple cellars!


VinoCell's filter feature

  • Last but not least, the ability to create a list of bottles you want to export is a big plus, insofar that many collectors do decide at some point, to sell some of their inventory. Many if not all brokers and auction houses require a well-formatted list. At Epic Cellars, we’ll work with you no matter the format of your submissions but we’ll be delighted to get a nicely formatted, CSV list, produced through VinoCell :-)


VinoCell's export feature

User-Friendliness

some of the descriptions in the app have a foreign sounding feel to them. I was a bit puzzled when I was instructed to "open" an account instead of just creating one... felt like I was on a banking app. Chalking it down to language barriers. Moving on...

As far as the general workflow, this app is certainly not as intuitive as you'd expect when it comes to managing your bottles in a cellar, which is why I recommend it only for the serious collector/wine aficionados out there....

VinoCell has all documentation you'll need to familiarize yourself with all its features and the general workflow of creating cellars and adding bottles to them, which is a definite plus!


Reliability/Performance

I ran the app on both my iPad and my iPhone and also checked into the cloud portal on their website to see if all my data was indeed backed up to their cloud storage.

Here's what worked well:

  • no slowness/sluggishness during general app use

  • no crashes on starting the app

Here's what could use an improvement, in my opinion:

  • sync features don't seem to work very well; I made sure to use the same account across all devices, turned auto-sync on... yet I ran into issues with duplicate content and missing bottles. The cloud storage did not always reflect my inventory and I found no way of fixing it. I will get in touch with the developer to see if there is something they can do and I will post updates to the article when the issue is resolved.

Cost:

At $8.99 it's not exactly a giveaway but I think we can all agree that it won't break the bank either, and I would say it's pretty reasonably priced, given the features and capabilities of the app... especially when you're down to spend 1000s on wine and wine storage....

Overall verdict:


The Pros:

  • Awesome list of features, truly does more than most of us will ever need

  • The overall layout is attractive

  • iPhone and IPad layouts (and available on Android as well)

  • Supports large bottle counts across multiple cellars, although we’ve only tested the app with a moderate sized bottle count so far

  • Cloud backup of your wine data - free

  • Great filtering features to ensure you find the wine you're looking for easily and quickly

  • ability import and export wines into/out of the app is usefull when looking to resell your wine.

The Cons:

  • No support for label recognition. Vivino does this, as well as others… sorely missing and would be a great timesaver, especially when having to enter a large number of uncatalogued bottles.

  • Sync across devices does not seem to work well or is quirky at best, based on our tests

  • Annoying data sync pop=up everytime the app is launched (can be disabled in settings)

  • No consolidated user profile features, user account settings and sync settings (these are found in different places, ugh)

  • Some basic cellar and bottle management tasks should be much simpler to perform

  • Some of the wording is off and could throw off some users (example: "open an account" as opposed to "create an account")

This app is ideal for you if:

  • You’re technically savvy

  • You’re wanting to track every aspect and intricacy about the wine you collect

  • Robert Parker is your uncle (or some other close relative)

  • You need to track 100+ of bottles or you store your bottles multiple cellars, across multiple locations

Wrapping up:

Truly an app with an exceptionally expansive feature-list, an attractive, fairly well laid-out interface but which lacks intuitiveness and sometimes tries to do too much.

While the developers have done a wonderful job of trying to include everything someone might need, not enough effort has been spent on making the app user friendly.

Some of the simple management and tracking tasks take more time, and effort

The lack of a comprehensive user profile with all user-centric features neatly laid out is a pain.

Some of the critical features such as the ability to sync data across devices seem to be plagued with issues, which remains a big concern (I am following with the developers on this - stay tuned)


Please subscribe to our Blog and/or mailing list to be kept in the loop on the next cellar management app in the series!

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