How to Build a Wine Cellar

 


We all love the idea of having a dedicated cellar, a distinct shrine, er, room to store our treasured bottles. So, what does it really take to convert part of one’s basement, or any room for that matter, into a real wine cellar?

Well, that really depends on what one is starting with and where one wants to end up! At its most basic, a passive cellar can be just a few cases tucked away in the dark corner of a basement. Coming from the east coast of the USA, and having lived in rural Italy, I have been fortunate to have very good cellar conditions occur naturally in both places. Of course, many people -- apartment dwellers, for example, and even most homeowners -- don’t have the luxury of a below-grade cellar with stable climate conditions. So, what’s a wine lover to do?
Well, there are two choices. The first, and by far the easiest, is to buy a self-contained wine cabinet. They come in many shapes and sizes, one of which is probably sufficient for almost everyone’s needs. Of course, they’re not cheap, and getting some serious storage space requires a commitment to having hulking cabinets adorning one’s house. (You can read all about wine cabinets in my Wine Refigerator Guide, which will include consumer feedback on all the major brands plus buying tips.)

If you really want to explore converting some of your existing space into a cellar, there are several things you should consider before jumping in. If you’re interested in cellaring your wine properly (as you should be), you might want to check out my articles on cellar temperatures before asking yourself if you need to do more than set aside a part of your passively cooled cellar for storage. In general these sorts of projects are relatively big (read: expensive) undertakings. There are many issues one has to take into consideration. I’ve taken the time to run down some of the basic details of each.




This article is part of a series on building your own wine cellar:

I.    Building Wine Cellar Walls
II.   Wine Cellar Vapor Barriers
III.  Wine Cellar Ceilings and Lighting
IV.   Wine Cellar Flooring
V.    Wine Cellar Windows and Doors

Similar Topics:

What Makes a Great Cellar
Rectangular Wine Cellar Bins

Mentioned in this article

Comments

  • Snooth User: JustPutt2
    157366 3

    Thanks for putting it all together, in one posting.

    Aug 31, 2010 at 9:39 PM


  • LOVE your Post Greg. I look forward to them, keep em coming Sir!!

    Aug 31, 2010 at 11:02 PM


  • Snooth User: dvogel001
    442684 8

    One more overall design comment. If your basement is standard 10 foot ceilings, you may want to consider creating a soffit about 6 - 12 inches from the height of the racks around the edge of the wine cellar. Not only is it a nice effect but it also reduces the overall cooling space by about 20% which means less strain on the air conditioner. In my case, I was able to get a smaller air conditioner.

    Sep 01, 2010 at 1:41 AM


  • Snooth User: daveswan
    569027 14

    Really useful guides, there are definitely some improvements I need to make.

    Sep 01, 2010 at 5:12 AM


  • Snooth User: tomibarra
    569109 4

    As a resource to help design & construct your custom wine cellar, please look to http://www.cellarmaker.com

    Sep 02, 2010 at 6:39 PM


  • Snooth User: Sol Fyre
    376411 1

    Absolutely wonderful posting. :)

    Sep 02, 2010 at 11:38 PM


  • Snooth User: cag4
    130043 15

    Thanks for this... How about the actual wine storage? Rack systems and such? Temperature/humidity controls? Keep going, this is great.

    Sep 06, 2010 at 3:56 PM


  • Hi Sir,

    I am from the Philippines and I am working in one of the casinos here in Clark, Pampanga. Our company is interested in having our own label for wines. Would that be possible Sir? Is there any person you know that I could coordinate with?

    Thank you so much.

    Sep 08, 2010 at 10:46 PM


  • Snooth User: woodie2
    165433 1

    Gregory-
    Great article! It came just in time for me to incorporate some features into my new rack.
    Now, would you please offer some help in setting up a bookkeeping system? I think I should know when I bought a bottle, how much I paid for it, what slot it is in, when it was opened and what it tastes like. Any other useful info?
    Any other readers have ideas?
    Thanks!

    Sep 13, 2010 at 3:16 PM


  • I will attempt such a feat for my husband's 47th birthday!Oops, that is before Christmas! THANK YOU FOR THE ARTICLE!!

    Sep 16, 2010 at 4:45 AM


  • Snooth User: cbracerx
    152437 31

    Thanks, I am trying to plan something better for my basement and this helped.

    Sep 20, 2010 at 12:57 PM


  • Snooth User: svendawg
    42293 25

    I need info on temperature and humidity controls.

    Sep 20, 2010 at 4:24 PM


  • Snooth User: hermlam
    252330 3

    See the building of a (cooled) wineceller on the top floor (under the roof) of my wineceller at: http://www.hermanlamboo.nl/?p=41

    Sep 22, 2010 at 4:12 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,744

    What a great photo essay.

    I particularly like the apples!

    Sep 22, 2010 at 4:28 PM


  • Know that wine evolves the best when the temperature evolves smoothly between 12°C (54°F) during the winter and 17°C (63°F) in the summer. Tests have been done in France. A package of wines was split up and stored in 3 different locations for 20 years: a cave with a constant temperature (54°F), a classic cellar (54° - 63°F) and a garage (32° - 100°F?). Each year the wines were tasted. Of course, all wines from the garage were quickly rejected. The best wines were found in the cellar. Keeping wine at a constant temperature (cave, electric device) prevents them to evolve positively. A good cellar is not too moist and not too dry. The air must be refreshed slowly but constantly. No need to do that artificially! Do not build a wine cellar if your central heating is also in the cellar, even in another room. Avoid all vibrations: they are deadly for the wine. All light is to be proscribed. Make sure that your cellar is dark. Light breaks down the wine. And do not like the French: keep your cellar clean.
    Michael.

    Nov 04, 2010 at 4:53 AM


  • Snooth User: pomneil
    498211 7

    One of the most stunning home wine cellar options I have ever seen is http://www.spiralcellars.com check them out!!!

    Mar 07, 2011 at 5:32 PM


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