Advice on Building a Wine Cellar In Your New Home or Renovation

If you're a wine lover, one of the most exciting renovations you can make is to add a professional wine cellar to your home.

Designing your ideal wine cellar can be a fun experience, but you need to define your needs, not only now, but into the future. When planning for wine storage, think about capacity, not only now, but into the future as your collection grows.

What type of wines do you enjoy? (red, white, magnums, champagne, etc. each of these bottles are a different size, so understanding your wine storage needs and answering some questions early in the process will allow for a more custom design and install. Nothing is more annoying than having a case of splits, or a collection of magnums without a space to store or display them properly.

Let's explore some of the questions you should ask and answer as you are designing your ideal wine cellar.

The physical construction of a wine cellar

Before you get into the finer design and technical elements of your cellar, you should consider the basic construction needs for a proper wine cellar.

The vapor barrier is the most important component of your cellar's basic construction. It should consist of 6 or 8 mil plastic sheeting installed on the “warm side” of the insulation to prevent condensation and possible damage to your wine cellar's walls or ceiling. Wrap the entire room in plastic sheeting, leaving room between the studs for insulation. Every wall and the ceiling must be wrapped to create a complete vapor barrier.

Cover studs with green moisture resistant drywall to help prevent mold. Your walls can then be painted or covered with stone, tile, or wood to add to the aesthetic design of your room. Flooring is another area where you can add to the aesthetics of your space. Natural materials like brick, stone, marble, tile or even old floors made from reclaimed wine barrel wood are all creative options that can not only add to the climate control and help to set the aesthetics for your space.

Equipment Considerations for Wine Temperature

Your wine cellar has certain equipment that can make it perfect for wine storage. Unless your cellar is located underground in a cave, you'll need to consider a cooling system. For any purist, cooling is a must. It creates the perfect climate to age your stored wines. There are three basic configurations for cooling systems. You can either install a self-contained unit, a split system, or a ducted cooling system.

Self-contained and split systems allow you to place the noisiest parts of the system outside of your cellar. For proper wine storage, your cellar will need to maintain a temperature of between 55 and 58 degrees with a humidity of between 50 and 70 percent. Many cooling systems will also contain built-in humidity management. If yours doesn't, or you live in a very dry climate, you may need to consider adding a humidity system.

Lighting is also another area to consider. “Air Lock” recessed lights are popular and placing them on a dimmer can create a warm, inviting environment. Couple recessed lights with track lighting to highlight interesting architectural elements or particularly rare or high-value vintages. You can then add display lights like small spots to focus on pictures, table areas or large display bottles. Your lighting is a great element to add design flair to your wine cellar.

Finally, when building your wine racks use wood like redwood or mahogany to resist rot in the cool, damp environment. Wire racking is also available and can be a great element to add a contemporary flair to your space. No matter what you material you choose, make sure it fits in with your overall design to create an aesthetically cohesive look.

Wine Storage Extras

While appliances are not necessary, adding a dishwasher can make trips to the kitchen unnecessary. Wine and cigars are a great way to relax. If you're a smoker, you can add smoke-eaters to keep your wine cellar fresh.  Customize your wine cellar with touch pads and wireless speakers, a tasting table with storage for corks, labels, and decanters, club chairs, an intercom or even a TV to add to your relaxed adult space. The sky is the limit! Your only limitations are the physical space you can devote to your wine storage and your budget. Work with your designer, or design/build contractor to personalize your space.

By taking a little extra time when planning your space to define your needs and wants, your dream wine cellar can become a quiet personal retreat in your home that you will enjoy for many years to come!

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