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Maureen Downey

Maureen Downey

Managing Member/Founder


Maureen is an expert in fine and rare wine appraisal, authentication, valuation, and financial trends of global fine wine markets. With her ties to global auction houses, brokers, and retailers worldwide, she is the perfect choice to manage your collection whether you are just beginning, growing or selling your collection, or creating investment opportunities for yourself or future generations. In December 2012, Drinks Business named her one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Wine”

Maureen completed the sommelier certification shortly after graduating from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Administration. As a sommelier and restaurant manager/service director, she worked in some of the top restaurants in New York City including Lespinasse, Felidia, and Tavern on the Green. After several years of invaluable experience, deciding to work more directly with fine and rare wine, she joined Morrell & Company as an auction specialist in 2000. When Zachys founded Zachys Wine Auctions in 2002, she became the first full‐time employee and Senior Specialist, establishing operating procedures and standards as well as specifications for cataloging and pricing. Eventually, she returned home to San Francisco and was convinced to join the wine auction team at Bonhams until deciding to start her own company.

For years, Maureen worked on behalf of wine auction houses, as a fine & rare wine auction specialist, completing appraisals, inspecting tens of millions of dollars in inventories including authenticating old and rare bottles, and consulting on buying and selling to many of the world’s top collectors. In 2005, she formed Chai Consulting and is now able to focus on the individual needs and interests of collectors, working exclusively on their behalf.  The company has rapidly expanded and now includes specialists and associates all over the globe.  The Chai Consulting, LLC team now manages some of the world’s largest and most impressive collections, while happily helping those just starting out or thinning/growing existing collections. Maureen has grown Chai Consulting to include an international clientele, including clients all over the US, in Asia ,and in Europe. Her true passion remains organizing collections and implementing inventory management systems, putting collectors back in control of holdings they will enjoy without wasting space and resources on unwanted inventory.

She feels strongly that as an independent firm, Chai Consulting professionals are able  to offer services and negotiate deals superior to any other competitor or individual vendor. Despite many offers, Maureen has staunchly defended the independent position of her firm. This independence allows the team to focus exclusively on the needs of the individual collector and provide increased options, with no obligation to recommend any particular venue or vendor for sales and purchases. By working with a large number of dealers worldwide, and with a huge volume represented on both the buy and sell sides, no one negotiates better terms whether buying or selling, than Chai Consulting.

Maureen is passionate about combating wine fraud as an internationally renowned expert in wine authentication and is actively working with collectors and authorities to prosecute counterfeiters and their vendors.  As an active wine writer, writing monthy for wine-searcher.com, and contributing regularly to the forum discussions on jancisrobinson.com, she continually educates collectors and the public about the issues of wine fraud and how to avoid fake wines, among other topics.  As a wine educator she helps students attune their palates and prepare for professional credential exams, and assists enthusiasts to determine their personal tastes and preferences.

Maureen is an active wine judge participating in International Wine & Spirits Competitions. She holds the WSET Diploma in Wines & Spirits and is a Certified Wine Educator.  She is also an International Bordeaux Tutor (2007), is credentialed by the French government as a French Wine Scholar and Instructor (2008 & 2010), and is a certified Spanish Wine Educator (2007). She is currently pursuing the Master of Wine credential, internationally recognized as the highest wine credential in the world.

Maureen is quoted regularly in both print and broadcast media and writes a monthly column for wine-searcher.com, focusing on collector issues and answering collector’s questions. Please click here for articles and press coverage.

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Twitter: @moevino