Improve your wine management with kanban

or ‘How I explained the pull model to my father’. Many thanks to Victoria Piquet for her precious help during the translation of the original post.


My father has passed on his passion for wine to me and I like to enjoy a glass as often as possible (in moderation). That’s why, when I get the chance to organize a dinner party, I want to serve the right wine for the right occasion.

The main focus of the following article is “How can I ensure that my cellar gives me an adequate choice of wine for every occasion while meeting my constraints of budget and space?”

First step: I set out the constraints

  • My cellar capacity is limited to 300 bottles of wine
  • The earlier you buy a bottle (early wine), the less expensive it is
  • To age correctly, a wine must be stored in optimum conditions: temperature, humidity
  • The French September wine fairs represent a large part of my wine purchases

Then I asked myself: “How can I visualize my cellar and ensure that it is evenly distributed”

Visualize the stream

First I identified the different steps in wine aging:

  • Early wines
  • Aging wines
  • Ready for drinking

I consider a bottle of wine to be in my cellar from the moment I buy it. The same bottle leaves my cellar when it is opened for drinking.

Then I split the “aging” phase into two columns:

  • [Cellar I] contains the youngest wine, too young for drinking
  • [Cellar II] contains bottles old enough to be drunk

Let me share a ‘family secret’ for aging wines with you: set up your [cellar I] at least at 300 miles from your house!

I also split the “ready for drinking” phase into two sections according the wine peaking date. We can therefore distinguish between a wine that has not peaked and a wine that is starting to decline.

This first step let me easily visualize the even distribution of my cellar and the following questions are easy to answer:

  • Do I have too many declining wines?
  • Do I have enough bottles beginning to peak for my future dinner parties?

Visualiser la cave

But now I want to know what kind of wines I need to buy during the next wine fairs.

Create the flow by balancing capacity on demand

Now I want to regulate my cellar, bearing in mind that: “I don’t want to buy or store more bottles of wine than I can drink”

To improve the visual management of my cellar, I took into account the different kinds of occasions that I drink wine:

  1. Casual (in moderation, of course)
  2. Specific (birthdays, Christmas, etc.)
  3. Special (weddings, christenings, etc.)
  4. … and unplanned events (the best events generally)

That’s why I added three rows to the previous diagram, each row representing a type of possible wine drinking occasion.

Classes de service-eng

I can now answer the following questions:

  • What type of wine is ready for drinking?
  • Do I need to buy some wine to ensure the continuity of my cellar?
  • Do I need to transfer wine from Cellar I to Cellar II?

To make the “flow” appear, the last step is to introduce limits:

  • A maximum limit to restrict cellar contents according to requirements
  • A minimum limit to trigger events: purchase, transfer, etc.

This produces the following diagram where light gray circles represent upper limits and dark gray, lower limits.


This is the end …

I have to warn you though, the process I have set up corresponds to my own cellar and personal constraints. It will only work for someone in the same situation as me and with the same aim. In fact, the more I optimize it, the less it will be possible to share it with others.

But the approach is still valid for anyone wanting to set up a visual management model to oversee wine management, taking into account the purpose (cellar creation, cellar improvement or diversification)

I should point out that the wine aging process is very long, that’s why it will take time to optimize this model. It is impossible to improve a process faster than the rate of the process itself.

Finally, I’d like to add that any similarity with a method named kanban is not accidental… unfortunately no bottles were drunk during the writing of this article!


Une réponse à “Improve your wine management with kanban

  1. Love the article: my two favourite subjects 🙂

    Have you built one with 300 spaces?!

    Unfortunately you’re solving a problem that few people have, otherwise you could earn some money; I know that it’ll be years before I touch most of the 150 in my cellar (apart from the section of every day wines) – so a Kanban on wine would just be a tease!


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