The purpose of this Report is to help the consumer understand state-of-the-art
options in preserving and storing wine. Find out what advantages wine
cellars offer, and explore the fundamental equipment such as: wine racks
and cooling systems necessary for chilling and storing wine with modular-
kit and custom cellar options. For alternative storage and chilling, review
which manufacturer's wine coolers and cabinets are worth buying.
Table of Contents:
Wine cellars are emerging in
the homes of both serious and entry-level wine collectors and, the trend
is growing. One can build a wine cellar essentially anywhere inside
the home and standard equipment like wine cooling systems and racks
are readily available for purchase.
What is a Wine Cellar: This is a climate controlled environment
that similar to the wine caves in France produces an excellent environment
for both storing and aging wine. What the much revered wine caves have
taught us is that you don't have to be a commercial wine maker or winery
to enjoy in the collecting, aging and storing of wines.
What you do need, however, is to create an environment where humidity
and temperatures are consistently regulated. In order to do so, you
may elect to build a wine cellar, which will entail not only a special
cooling system and equipment, but also a room constructed with materials
including: vapor barriers, insulation, and green boards. Once built
elements of design come into play. Some wine cellars serve as pure storage.
Others are more ornate.
Cost: Wine cellars can be costly or they can be affordable
depending upon the scope and design. Size is an important determinant
of cost; however, other factors including: storage system (racks), type
of wood (redwood, mahogany, teak, pine) and refrigeration system are
also weighted into the cost. How one chooses is based on personal preference,
and collection size and budget, are important deciding factor. However,
remember that with building a wine cellar, one can go for the no-frills
storage option: like a wine cellar the size of a closet with modular
racking, or go for the-full-frills option, complete with endless customization
from floors, door, counters, to a wine room that rivals a lovely Napa
Valley Winery. To explore the various options, from wine cellar design
and customization, to cellar equipment and software and find more information
about wine storage, read on.
Custom Wine Cellars
There are a number of design choices to consider when deciding to build
a wine cellar and the first question to ask yourself is do you want
to build it yourself (with the help of a contractor or builder) or do
you want to hire a company that specializes in wine cellar design. For
those looking for an affordable option, modular cellar unit kits are
available. More popular though, is to select rack kits and other pre-fabricated
designs rather than more expensive custom design.
Tip: How do you determine what size wine cellar to build? First
consider how many bottles you currently have and how many you would
like in your cellar
Custom Wine Cellar: Since 95% of those with wine
cellars use them as a showpiece, (in addition to storage and aging)
it is not surprising that there is a growing interest in customization.
Costs for building and designing a custom wine cellar will vary based
upon factors such as: cellar size, and types of equipment and materials
chosen. People who choose customization tend to have higher budgets
and are willing to spend more to get what they want.
Customization can include:
- Custom wine racks
- Custom cabinetry, countertops and flooring
- Individual display racks, bins, and case storage
- Custom cellar doors
- Custom stonework and woodwork
In addition, accessories can add a personal touch and help customize
a wine room. Both wood carvings and moldings, along with art work and
murals, can add a truly spectacular effect. Add to this, handcrafted
wood or stone work, entry door design and glass etchings and the wine
cellar can reach new levels.
Wine Cellar Doors
Wine Cellar Door Nuts and Bolts: Doors installed for
residential and commercial wine cellars need to be exterior grade with
weather stripping on all 4-sides of the door jam.
A bottom threshold is also necessary for creating a tight seal so that
cool air doesn't escape.
Types of Wine Cellar Doors: There are only a handful of companies
that design and manufacture wine cellar doors, however, those that specialize,
like Wine Cellar Innovations, do an extraordinary job.
How much: You can buy a standard plain wood door (32"w
x 80"h) for around $1,500 to $1,600 or spend up to several thousand
dollars with special etchings, painting and border. Plain, grapevine
and border design tend to be the most requested choice, and more cellars
are being designed with French doors.
Wine Cellar Door Materials: Wood wine room doors are
typical. Choices include: redwood, maple, oak, cherry, black walnut,
and other exotic hardwoods. Also available are decorative wrought iron
grills which attach to wood door frame and include glass windowing.
Wine Cellars: Accessories, Floors, Lighting
1) Accessories: There are a number of useful wine accessories
and gifts for the wine lover. Some of the favorites include: bottle
tags, wireless digital temperature and humidity guages and label savers.
Additional accessories include: glasses, decanters and funnels, decorative
aerators, stemware, corkscews, serve and preserve systems, buckets and
chillers and Clef du Vin Pocket Wine Tasting Tool.
For the best corkscrew around, learn more about the Metrokane Rabbit
2) Flooring: Probably the most common flooring
material used in wine cellar design is sealed tile. (For a custom design,
tiles can be hand painted) Cork flooring is growing in interest as well
as availability, and sealed hardwood is a mainstay. Note: Carpeting
should be avoided.
3) Lighting : Typical lighting used is recessed canned
lighting with dimmer switch. If a decorative light box or stained glass
piece is to be displayed Fluorescent SlimLites are a very good choice.
Types of Wine Cellar Equipment
Earlier we discussed that you will want to decide who is going to build
your wine cellar, perhaps a contractor. If you go this route, it is
critical that he/or she knows the construction steps and materials necessary
for building a wine cellar. We suggest looking over and passing along
the following wine
cellar construction guidelines.
It will demonstrate materials used in preparing a wine cellar including:
vapor barrier 6mm plastic sheeting; R-13 and R-19 insulation, and give
step by step instructions.
Wine cellar equipment such as the cooling systems, doors and racks
will be discussed below, and for each one we aim to highlight the both
the nuts and bolts along with design options.
Wine Racks and Storage
Wine racks are designed to store bottles either individually or in
bulk. To prevent oxidation, wine racks are designed to store wine bottles
on their side: this keeps the cork moist and the seal, air tight. With
the optimal constant climate: Humidity between 50% to70% and temperature
between 55 degrees to 57 degrees Fahrenheit, wine can be stored for
as long as needed. Note: factors such as darkness, minimal vibration
and clean air are also essential.
Types of Wine cellar Racks:
- (1) Modular racks are designed with standardized dimensions and
units and are typically easy to assemble and flexible to arrange and
use. Bottle count varies but up to 200 is not unusual. These systems
are the most affordable option and can be purchased online through
a number of wine related stores and merchants. Typical material is
wood; however, metal wine racks are also available.
- (2) Wine rack kits - In a sense modular, but some kits are a step
up, offering better quality wood, and in some cases, custom details
like beveled rails and face trim. This option is more affordable than
the above modular wine racks. Pre-drilled holes can make for easy
assembly and hardware is included.
- (3) Custom wine racks - Here you can determine your storage needs
and have your wine racks built accordingly. Custom systems can include
diamond cubes, custom sized wine bottle cubicles, and wood shelves
for storing wine cases. This racking system is the most expensive.
Individual bottle storage for most bottle sizes including Burgundy
and many Champagne bottles will fit in standard 3 ¾" openings
or cubicles. Magnum and other larger sized bottles will require custom
racks or (4 ½" cubicles). Read
wine storage racks review for more info.
Wine Cooling Systems
Wine cooling system nuts and bolts: Wine cellar cooling systems
are designed to properly maintain a constant temperature (between 55
to 57 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity levels (between 50 to 70 percent)
; however, only under the right conditions. To
learn more about how wine room cooling systems work, click here.
Wine Cellar Software and Management
Managing a collection of wine is no easy task and wine cellar software
is designed to help with your inventory. There are a number of software
programs around, and two, Personal Wine Curator and ESommalier couldn't
be more different, at least from the price tag. Other programs like
Uncorked out of Australia seem to have it all, with features enabling
the user to graph the contents of their wine cellar. Here's a brief
ESommelier: With a directory of over 130,000 wines from
around the world, you can catalog and search for your wines by simply
selecting the country, region, variety, winery and vintage. ESommelier
Wine Management System allows you to enter your own wine ratings and
tasting notes for future reference. Useful for large collections, restaurants
and where a true inventory system is needed. Estimated Price: $8,000
Personal Wine Curator: With the ability to pair both food and
wine this software claims to be all that you want with nothing you don't
need. Features include catagory lists for tasting notes, wines on order,
wish list wines, wines ready to drink, wines out of stock and a few
more. This software also allows you to overview your cellar enabling
you to find out the value of your collection, bottle counts broken down
into red, white, sparkling and more. Estimated Price: $35
Uncorked: This Software is well worth the money: starting at
a few hundred dollars. With Uncorked, you can do the following: View
wine notes using the supplied wine guide listing over 115,000 wines;
estimate the approximate value of your wine cellar; know when your wine
is best to drink; select the rack position for each bottle by using
a virtual wine rack; allocate wine bottle tags to track your wine; graph
the contents of your wine cellar; allocate wine bottle tags to track
your wine; add or subtract a bottle of wine using the barcode reader.
Estimated Price: Starting at a few hundred dollars.
As an alternative to a custom built wine cellar that can store hundreds
to thousands of bottles of wine, wine coolers can be bought to store
from 6 bottles to just under 200 bottles. However, a wine cooler is
designed for short term storage: 2 to 3 years. Cost to this type of
refrigeration will range from a couple hundred dollars and up to several
thousand dollars. To learn more about
wine coolers and manufacturers, read our review
As an alternative to building a residential wine cellar, furniture-like
wine cabinets engineered by leading manufacturers offer similar climate
controlled environments for aging wine. Brands including Le Cache, Vinotheque,
Eurocave, Vinotemp and Wine Cellar Impressions all sell a number of
models varying by size/bottle capacity and design. Bottle capacity can
go from over 100 and up to more than 600, (600+ bottle capacity cabinets
tend to be more common with hotels and restaurants).
Advantages to buying a wine cellar cabinet versus building a cellar
depends upon many factors including: the ability to take the cabinet
with you if you move. Also, the prefabricated design, even including
additional custom features added, requires little to no assembly as
compared to building a wine room. Equipment and components like buying
an Avanti wine cellars is easy and comes ready to use, whereas with
custom wine cellars, you have to buy individually.
Alternatively, building a wine cellar presents numerous advantages
over simply buying a wine cabinet. One is that this wine room can increase
the value of your home. Also, if budget allows, customization options
offers great flexibility in both design and function, allowing for endless
possibilities. One thing both have in common: you can locate either
anywhere in your house.
As a collector of fine wines or as an enthusiast, the need to protect
your collection in a proper environment is essential. Maintaining constant
temperature and humidity control, darkness, minimizing vibrations and
clean air are also essential. By building a wine cellar or by choosing
a cellar alternative, you can enjoy the fruits of long term storage.