INVESTING - 4 MIN READ
Wine Cellar: How to Design the Perfect One For Your Wine Collection
Looking for wine cellar ideas to store your wine collection?
Your wine must be stored in climate-controlled facilities to keep it at its peak. Cellar your precious bottle inappropriately, and you’ll have ruined its taste and your investment!
So, how do you store wine optimally? How do you design a modern wine cellar?
And, is storing your wine collection in a custom wine cellar as simple as it sounds?
Have all your questions answered in this article. Get inspired with plenty of ideas to design a wine cellar in your home or commercial establishment. And, more importantly, discover the smartest, hassle-free way to cellar your wines!
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What is a Wine Cellar, and How is it Useful?
Does the picture of a vast underground stone cellar come to your mind?
Wine has indeed been stored in dramatic ways as early as 6000 BC - in terracotta containers (amphorae), in smoke-filled rooms (fumantorires) and underground catacombs in Rome, and subterranean wine caves in France.
We’ve come a long way since then!
So, a wine cellar is simply a storage area for wine bottles and barrels. It protects wines, including champagne from temperature and humidity swings, too much light, and other external influences.
You’ll find plenty of modern wine cellar options and traditional wine cellars in the market today.
You’d hear it referred to as a wine rack, a wine cooler, a wine cabinet, a wine room, a wine refrigerator, or wine storage itself.
Broadly, cellars can be divided into two categories.
Types of wine cellars
1. Active-cooled wine cellars are those where an automated climate-control system maintains the temperature, humidity and other factors.
2. Passively-cooled wine cellars have no automated climate-control. They are built underground to protect against temperature swings.
So, what are the optimal conditions for wine storage?
Conditions required for perfect wine storage
When stored under climate-controlled conditions, your wine can improve in flavor, aroma, and complexity as it matures in the bottle.
These are the critical storage factors that could make or break your wine collection’s quality and market value.
Vibration has been found to spoil the flavor and aroma of wine by passing that energy into the chemical aging process.
When your bottles vibrate, the sediments aren’t allowed to separate from the liquid. This lowers tartaric acid and succinic acid levels - the chemicals responsible for the delightful tasting flavors of fruit, berries, and others!
A temperature between 7-18 degree celsius (45-65 degree Fahrenheit) is ideal for the storage and long term aging of wine. 10-14 degree celsius (50-58 degree Fahrenheit) is the sweet spot where wines age at their normal pace.
Any variations within this range shouldn’t be sudden. Else, the wine will breathe through the cork, making it age faster.
Wine can tolerate only slight variations in humidity.
Low humidity can cause organic corks to dry up prematurely, compromising the quality of the seal. High humidity can cause mold to form on the cork and damage the labels as well.
Your wine storage solutions work best at around 57% humidity. It's best to maintain it in the 50-70% range.
If you need to store wines for more than a year, keep them away from strong, direct light sources.
Direct sunlight can spoil wine by reacting with its phenolic compounds, especially in light-bodied wines. That’s why they’re packaged in tinted bottles.
If you have wine bottles that come in clear packaging, then take extra care in storing them.
Other external factors and hazards
Apart from these factors, you need to be wary of other external factors like theft, fire, malfunctioning of your cooling unit, and so on.
Now, let’s walk through the features of a great wine cellar.
What Makes an Ideal Wine Cellar?
Picture a perfectly laid out cellar with a variety of renowned vintages, all stored under optimal conditions.
You could build an ideal wine room like that even with a few bottles in your wine list. Make sure your wine cellar satisfies all these requirements:
An ideal wine room would have a good breadth and depth of vintages across price ranges collected from the best wine regions in the world including France - ideally curated by wine experts or a Sommelier.
Superior organization and presentation
Organize your wine collection to tell a story through it, and to make it easy to pick your favorite bottle in seconds.
You shouldn’t have to pull out bottle after bottle to inspect the labels each time!
You could sort them out by
- Region (French wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy, wines from a winery in Napa Valley or New York state, and so on.)
- Grape varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and so on)
- Wine type (red, white, sparkling)
Pick a method that suits your collection, the value of your bottles, and your cellar area.
And, don’t forget to place good-looking display shelves to showcase and safely store your opened bottles.
Inventory and price tracking
Invest in apps or software to:
- Track the market and price your vintage according to its current perceived value.
- Know the drinking window of wines so you don’t end up with old wine that is past its prime. This will allow you to decide when a wine is likely to be at its peak for drinking. Opening a bottle at the right age will ensure that its tannic structure has softened and it retains its fruit concentration and freshness.
- Track your inventory and how many bottles you’ve consumed.
- Know how long to keep a bottle open.
- Enter your wine tasting notes.
Intelligent wine cellar design
In an “intelligent” wine cellar you’ll find
- Double layered glass with enhanced UV protection
- Digital climate controls or touch control panels
- Security lock and key
- Configurable wine racks to optimize your storage capacity
- And many other modern features.
Cooling and ventilation consume a significant amount of energy in wine cellars.
You can alter your vine cellar’s shape, orientation, and cooling mechanisms to maintain the right aging conditions while minimizing energy expenditure.
Here are 10 essential tips to help you store your wines perfectly in your wine cellar.
10 Wine Storage Tips
1. Pick the right location
Pick the right spot for your home or commercial wine cellar based on the layout, light and footfall. Wherever it is, make sure you’re able to maintain climate-controlled conditions.
The basement is a neat spot to build your cellar as it’ll be easy to maintain consistent temperature and humidity there. Under-the-stairs is another smart space that you could utilize.
2. Keep the temperature and humidity stable
Insulate the cellar to maintain the right temperature range and to act as a good vapor barrier.
Large wine cellars may need wine cooling systems and an exhaust room to absorb the heat. Else choose a wine cooler or cabinet that comes with a proper cooling mechanism.
If your wine cellar is in a dry area, you’ll need a humidifier to maintain the right humidity. You could get cooling units (WhisperKOOL, for example) with an integrated humidifier.
3. Keep bottles away from intense light and vibration
Your wine cellar needs to provide vibration-free thermoelectric cooling.
A basement makes a perfect storage spot with minimum footfall and vibrations.
In a wine cabinet or cooler, remember to keep your bottles away from the door so that they don’t rattle each time you open to get a bottle out.
Also, store your bottles individually and not one over the other. So you won’t have to move one to take another out.
4. Make sure your wine cellar door is a strong one
Your wine cellar door should be strong and adequately insulated. If you choose a glass door, make sure it is double-paned and has exterior-grade insulation.
Ideally, there shouldn’t be any windows in the wine cellar. If you do have one or two, make sure they are properly sealed as well.
5. Store wine bottles horizontally
Store your bottles with corks horizontally so that the corks don’t dry out.
You can store other wine bottles anyway you like, but arranging them horizontally helps you maximize cellar space and easily access them.
6. Store open wine bottles properly
An open wine bottle can last for around five days if you store it properly. Remember to recork it immediately and tightly. When you do that, place some wax paper around the cork and close it shut.
If you’ve lost the cork, use a rubber wine stopper to the same effect. Or use a wine vacuum pump to suck the air out of the bottle before you cork it.
7. Pick the right flooring
Opt for hardwood, tile, vinyl, stone, or marble for your cellar flooring. A carpet is a big no-no as it will develop mold and mildew thanks to the high humidity levels.
8. Pick the right type of lighting
If you have an extensive wine room, decide whether you prefer a warm, cozy vibe or a brighter ambiance. You could go for bright LED lights and track lights or chandeliers for a mood-lit vibe.
Highlight any specific areas or displays with overhead lighting, preferably low-voltage LED lights.
Remember that you cannot expose your wines to excessive light. Go for lighting that is low intensity and generates low amounts of heat. And, stay away from fluorescent, halogen, and incandescent lamps in your cellar.
9. Install security systems
Keep your cellar door locked always to prevent unauthorized use. Install safety alarms or monitoring systems and cameras to prevent any break-ins.
10. Insure and protect from natural disasters and other hazards.
Insure your wine cellar with a wine collection insurance to protect against natural disasters or power failure or breakage.
Take a blanket policy to cover all bottles that are valued under $1,000 each. And, go for a standalone policy to insure your rare, expensive wines individually.
Now for some cool wine cellar design ideas!
How to Design a Custom Wine Cellar (for Homes and Commercial Spaces)
Your wine collection deserves a place of pride in your home or commercial establishment. So design your cellar to highlight your wine collecting story.
Best Custom Wine Cellar Design Ideas
Metal wine racks
Metal wine racks are popular in contemporary fine wine cellars. These could be freestanding custom wine racks or smaller shelf like wall-mounted ones (VintageView, for example).
You could also use sleek metal wine racks in a glass custom wine cellar for a dramatic effect.
In a peg wine rack system, wine bottles are supported horizontally on stainless steel or wooden pegs attached to a board on the wall.
The board is often backlit, making a stunning backdrop that highlights the wine collection.
They are configurable for wine collections of any size. And, they make for an excellent display statement giving you easy access to your great wines.
You could get a set of two pegs per wine bottle for around $10.
However, this isn’t meant for long term storage since there’s no climate control mechanism.
Wine cabinets (like Humidor) are enclosed closets that appear like pieces of furniture in your room. You could have a climate-control system installed in it.
Then, customize the wine racking system inside, depending on your bottle collection.
As for the cost, a climate controlled wine cabinet that can hold a few dozen to a hundred wine bottles could cost you $2,500 to $10,000.
Glass wine cellars
Glass cellars make a great design idea to showcase a small collection, especially under the stairs.
An all-glass wine rack design will give you the appearance of floating wine bottles to suit a modern decor scheme.
Secret storage in the kitchen
Convert a pantry, a kitchen island, or a buffet table into a wine cellar with a cooling unit like WhisperKOOL.
Add custom shelving and lighting. Follow the same design scheme as the kitchen countertop and cabinetry to bring in uniformity to the space.
However, note that warmer spaces like kitchens aren’t the best places to store wines for the long term.
Storage in oak barrels
Store smaller wine collections in oak barrels that have a neat racking, cooling, and lighting system inside. Fit them with wheels so that you can easily move them around when needed.
Floor-to-ceiling wine cellar with a ladder
If you don’t want to consume any square footage in your home or wine store, use the vertical space with ceiling-high wine racks.
Place a rolling ladder or a rolling library ladder against the wine wall to allow easy access to your bottles - like you’d see in a winery.
Underground wine cellar and tasting room
Convert a portion of your basement or underground garage into a cool cellar or wine bar for wine tasting.
First, repair any air, light, or water leaks. Seal the floor with a concrete sealant. Install a vapor barrier, an automatic door, a cooling system, and proper lighting.
And, add a chic seating area and live music to create a neat subterranean tasting room for wine lovers and your wine enthusiast friends.
Wine caves or wine rooms like these that are 25-150 square feet in size typically run into the $15,000 - $62,000 price range. A general thumb rule is that constructing a typical wine cellar will cost you $300 to $600 per square foot.
The total cost would depend on the design, storage capacity, cooling system, lighting, and materials used for racks, doors, floors, and walls.
Smart storage in unused spaces
Take advantage of under-the-stairs spaces and other corners that usually lie under-utilized. Fitted with proper wine racking and lighting, you can make it an eye-catching focal point in your room. Also, install a ducted wine cellar cooling system and an integrated humidifier.
A cellar under the stairs would need custom racks to fit into the unconventional space.
A wooden cellar with custom racks that can store around 350 bottles could set you back by $5,000+.
Picking the right wine cellar type and fitting it to suit your needs a lot of careful planning and execution.
A wine contractor could make this easier.
How can a wine cellar contractor help?
Wine cellar builders can design, build, and maintain cellars for a wine enthusiasts home or commercial space.
Ideally, they’d be skilled in designing and building wine cellars and would have a thorough knowledge of wines and their storage conditions.
Their design services would help you to
- Identify the best cellar location
- Identify the right cellar size and configuration based on the size and type of wines you own and your home’s layout
- Use materials that complement those used in the rest of your house or commercial space.
Find out the answers to these questions before you hire any contractor.
Questions to ask a wine cellar contractor
- How many wine cellar projects have you completed?
- Can you give me wine collector references to enquire about your previous work?
- How big is your team of workers?
- Are you and your workers licensed and insured?
- Are you well versed in wines and their storage conditions? What related training have you done?
- What are your services?
- What are your charges, and what does it cover?
- How much time would you take for the job to get done?
- What is your policy for alterations in the initial plan?
- What happens if we need to change materials midway through the project?
- What documents and materials do you need from me?
- Are there any critical concerns you foresee with my plan?
The entire process of designing and building a cellar will take months to finish.
Also, while an off-the-shelf 50-bottle wine cooler may cost you $200+, a full-fledged cellar (including a tasting room) can go up to $100,000.
Now, assume you’ve designed and built the perfect wine cellar.
What if you outgrow your cellar in a few years and have to figure out new ways to store a bigger wine collection?
Quite likely to happen, right?
How about entrusting a wine investment company like Vinovest to store your wines safely until you need to drink or sell them?
Let’s see how this works.
Store Your Wine Bottles Perfectly through Vinovest (for Drinking and Investing)
Apart from storing wines in bonded warehouses, Vinovest buys, authenticates, and even sells your wines for you.
What’s more? It also delivers your wines to you whenever you wish to clink wine glasses at dinner with your wine lover guests.
Building a wine collection and cellaring it couldn’t get simpler than this!
How does it work?
You only need to follow these steps:
- Sign up on the Vinovest website.
- Fill up a questionnaire for Vinovest to assess your risk appetite and investment preferences.
- Add funds to your account.
- Track your wine portfolio online.
Why should you cellar your wine through Vinovest?
There are several benefits of buying, storing, and selling wine through Vinovest.
Easy buying and selling of wines
Vinovest’s Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based online platform lets you buy and sell the world’s best wines, easily.
Vinovest stores your wine collection safely in bonded warehouses, under optimal light, humidity, vibration, and temperature.
Your wines will be stored strategically next to major wine-growing regions. It’s like having access to a massive wine cellar without dealing with any of the expenses or physical logistics of maintaining it.
Moreover, one of the cellars is the same as the one used by the British Royal family to store their wines!
Easily expand your wine storage
With Vinovest, you can store as much or as little wine without having to deal with building new infrastructure to expand your storage space.
Provenance and authenticity
No more worrying about wine fraud and fake wine bottles. The wine experts at Vinovest authenticate your bottles and trace their provenance before buying them.
Insurance and security
Your wines are safe under the eyes of 24/7 security cameras. There are power back-ups in case the primary method fails to maintain the perfect temperature and humidity. There is also a comprehensive insurance policy that will protect your wine cellar at all times.
A team of Sommeliers and data scientists carefully curates your portfolio based on proprietary financial models and historical data.
Low overall costs
Besides adding funds to your account, all you need to pay is a 2.85% annual fee (2.5% for a portfolio above $50,000). This covers buying wines, authentication, storage, a full insurance policy at market value, portfolio management, and selling the bottles. You’ll also enjoy significant tax advantages as bonded warehouses don’t charge VAT and excise duty.
Easy delivery of wines
Once sold, Vinovest will safely deliver your consignment to your buyer. If you wish to drink your wine, you can have it delivered right to your doorstep.
The best part is, you own the wines you buy.
To wrap up...
Setting up a wine cellar is not an easy task with many aspects like storage, climate control, design and security to be taken care of. Needless to say, the process is time consuming and expensive as well.
Your easiest bet is to buy, store, and sell your wines through Vinovest. That way, you don’t have to go through these hassles or having to modify your cellar to fit a growing collection.
So sign up now and start building your wine portfolio right away!