Whether you’re new to wine or a seasoned sipper, eventually your wine collection will need its own space.
As you attend more exciting local wine events, visit wineries on your travels or receive your monthly Zinfandel shipment from Sonoma California, your collection will grow. Sooner or later, you’ll realize it’s time to correctly store those beauties you’ve collected so they can be properly enjoyed later, and you need to find space for them in your home. It’s time for a wine cellar or at least a wine closet.
Dedicating an area in your home to store your wine collection allows you to:
Keep all your wine in one place instead of scattering a few bottles here and there in your living room, garage and bedroom
Maintain the proper temperature for your wine
Find that special bottle without tearing the house apart
Impress your friends (come on, you know you want to)
Setting up the proper conditions for wine storage
When planning to convert a space in your home for your new wine cellar, preparation is the first key step. If the space naturally stays between 50 and 65° F without too much fluctuation, you won’t need a cooling unit. If you do need a cooling unit to maintain proper conditions, the cellar must be properly constructed with adequate insulation and a vapor barrier to minimize condensation inside the cellar. Also, select a proper wine cellar door — insulated, solid core and or dual pane insulated glass — and make sure it’s airtight and weatherstripped.
Your next consideration should be to select the appropriate wine cooling unit that will keep your wines at your desired temperature of 50 to 65° F. If you live in an area where winter temperatures fall below 50° F and your cellar will be exposed to unconditioned space, you may need a cooling unit that also offers heating. This will allow you to store your wines at the proper temperature, no matter how cold it gets outside.
Now comes the big dilemma: where the heck are you going to put your cellar?
In a perfect world, everyone would have a full basement — an excellent location below ground to create your inner wine sanctum. But basements are not always practical or available, especially in Western states. Many of the more well-known wineries around the world build tasting rooms into underground caves — but you probably don’t have one of those handy either.
With a little creativity, you can still find a few locations in your home that might work for your wine storage. Consider these locations:
The too-big-guest room or office: You don’t need to dedicate an entire room to wine storage. Instead, get a free-standing temperature-controlled wine cabinet, which will maintain proper temperature and humidity conditions for your wine. Wine cabinets can be found in all kinds of shapes, sizes and finishes.
The what-was-the-designer-thinking space: You’ve never known what to do with that awkward space or corner where furniture never seems to fit. You may have a hallway that you never use. Enclose one of these areas with a proper vapor barrier and insulation, and turn it into your new wine closet.
Underneath the staircase: Consider extending the closet underneath the staircase. You’ll be amazed by how much wasted space is just waiting to be converted into storage for a couple hundred wine bottles.
The kitchen pantry: If your pantry is full of expired non-perishables, that’s probably a sign you could put it to better use. Try talking your spouse out of the pantry, and transform it into a proud display of your collection with a front-vented wine refrigerator that will operate with limited ventilation space behind and on the sides of the unit.
The third parking spot in the garage: Do you have an area in your garage that’s accumulating junk? Consider getting a build-it-yourself BILD modular wine room. Surprise your significant other and clean out that garage, then spray paint the floor to mark where the walls of your wine cellar could be. Plan a date to visit the garage with a bottle of your finest wine and two glasses, and explain your plan. Oh the persuasive effects of a good bottle of vino.
About the author: Gary Peterson resides in Wine Country, Oregon, home of Pinot Noir, and has been a wine merchant as well as wine writer and blogger for the past eight years. His own extensive wine collection is kept in the unique self designed wine cellar in his home.