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An eBay for wine collectors

Fine wines. Buy, sell, trade.

Half Moon Bay, Calif.--The best wines in the world aren't at Trader Joe's, it turns out. They are in some collector's cellar.

"The better the quality of the wine, the harder it is to get," said Stephen Bachmann, CEO of Vinfolio, a wine trading/collecting site at the Think Tomorrow Today conference taking place in Half Moon Bay, California this week. "The best wines that get released end up in the cellars of collectors. Private cellars have more supplies of these wines than the trade does."

Vinfolio essentially acts like an eBay for oenophiles, who turn out to be just as crazy and compulsive as collectors in other fields. Wine owners list the contents of their cellars on the service. They can then sell, buy or trade with other collectors. If you start out as a California collector, but have switched to French wines, you can start selling the old bottles to pay for the new habit.

Vinfolio gives away its desktop software but takes a cut on transactions.

The company also provides data on estimated prices for your wines, current auctions and other information on the wine world. In other words, the dizzying array of data that makes rotisserie baseball addictive to its adherents is now part of wine collecting.

Subscribers are expected to grow to 21,000 people in 2007. Revenues will likely reach $17 million this year. The company is only three years old. In 2005, revenues came to $2.4 million. The average wine traded on the site sells for $100 to $125 with some bottles selling for several thousand.

It's a classy hobby too. When was the last time you were excited about being invited into someone's Pez cellar?