Wine enthusiasts and serious collectors have valuable allies in their wine appraisers. These experts help wine lovers protect their wine collections by inventorying them and giving them value. Obviously, a good wine appraisal and inventory are essential when wine collections are insured. An appraisal is often necessary for divorce settlements, estate planning, charity donations, tax purposes, and personal investment.
Finding a qualified wine appraiser may be a bit tricky. A good place to start looking is your insurance company. They often have appraisers on staff or available as independent consultants. Your lawyer can also suggest a good appraiser, especially if your legal representative handles large estates that include art, jewelry, and other collectibles. Likewise, auction houses will often have appraisers on staff or on call. Finally, you can contact the American Society of Appraisers to find a certified wine appraiser.
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A wine appraiser is usually certified first as a personal property appraiser. People can be certified once they have completed training by the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). That organization has been supplying appraisers since 1936 and was one of eight national appraisal societies that founded the Appraisal Foundation in 1989. It has been enforcing national appraisal standards and training as established in 1986 by federal guidelines for the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).Though ASA appraisers are certified, they are not licensed. In most states, only real estate appraisers are required to be licensed. ASA appraisers can also become Accredited Senior Appraisers or Master Appraisers. An Accredited Senior Appraiser must have a minimum of five years of appraisal experience and often have a college degree in some form of appraisal studies. Master Appraisers, currently, are only offered to value gemstones and jewelry. They are called Master Gemologist Appraisers. ASA-accredited appraisers are impartial, accurate, and fair.
Wine appraisers can be either Accredited Members or Accredited Senior Appraisers. Roger Livdahl of Livdah’s Wine Appraisals, in Los Angeles, is a certified senior appraiser.
Other Types of Certification
There are other organizations that offer certificates to wine appraisers. Some of these are credible, but every collector should always ask for detailed credentials before hiring an appraiser. Sometimes, appraisals are conducted by certified wine educators with a wealth of experience with wines. Ask lots of questions and make sure they are knowledgeable about your wines. If you are in doubt, ask to see proof of USPAP certification or proof of registration with the ASA.Avoid appraisers that charge you a percentage of the value of your wine. This is in direct violation of USPAP guidelines. Legitimate appraisers usually either charge an hourly rate or a flat fee for doing a complete appraisal of your wine collection.
What the Appraiser Does
A wine appraiser can identify the wines in your collection, especially if you have some question as to origin or value. The appraiser should also give you a total value for your entire collection and often will give you a complete inventory. This inventory will place a monetary amount for each bottle, based on true market value. The complete appraisal should also be drafted in writing and sent to you, with the necessary copies you need for your insurance company and/or your lawyer.
Finding an appraiser you can trust may take time. But once that expert is found, you will have a more accurate and honest value and inventory for your legal documentation.