The dream of having a home wine cellar to call your own ranks right up there with winning the lottery. Even a small home cellar can provide space and climate control to collect, save and enjoy wines you love.
1. Planning the best home wine cellar
Most people think of a basement installation. But, without a basement, your cellar could be a portion of garage, exterior building, a closet, or a large cabinet in the pantry. The important factor is to control the temperature and humidity and properly store and protect the wine collection.
Plan carefully before construction begins. What capacity will you need? Will the collection expand throughout the years? Is power available for climate control? Can the cellar be insulated?
For most, basements offer several advantages. They are insulated by the earth and usually have access to electrical power and gas for heating.
Draw a floor plan of the chosen space and a list of building materials. Check the local building code and decide if a building permit is needed. If remodeling a closet or basement space, the first step is to demolish the interior and get ready for the new construction.
2. Walls and soffits
Seal the concrete floor and foundation walls and all exterior walls with 6 mil vapor barrier or spray foam. Next, begin framing the partition walls for the cellar. Walls may be framed with 2×4 inch studs or 2×6 inch studs. Check the local building code. Insulate interior walls with fiberglass batting rated for your climate zone. Walls with 2×4 inch studs will accommodate R-13 batting, walls with 2×6 inch studs will accommodate R-19 batting. Always check the code first. Partition walls should be insulated as well to help with temperature, humidity control, and lower the energy required to heat or cool the cellar later. Adding soffits accommodates heating and cooling units and ductworks.
3. Advantages of insulation
Properly insulating the floor, walls and ceiling will reduce the energy costs of the wine cellar. Spray foam is the most efficient barrier against cold and humidity. It is also the most expensive. A 6 mil vapor barrier can be used and fiberglass batting. Sealing the edges and corners is critical with these materials for efficient insulation.
4. Climate control
The proper temperature for a wine cellar is 55-65 degrees F and 55-75% humidity. The capacity of the heating and cooling unit should be calculated for the cubic feet area of the new cellar. Plan the soffit size to accommodate the necessary ducting and ceiling lights.
5. Lighting and electrical
In larger wine cellars light placement can create a mood or destroy it. Lights should be placed far enough away from the walls to not interfere with the wine racks. Consider if an area needs more light or less. Plan accent lights or spots for art in the cellar. Electrical outlets work best when placed in dead spaces of the wine cellar. Place outlets out of the way of wine racks.
6. Wall coverings and flooring
This is the fun part. Walls can be textured or faux finished in a wide range of techniques. Even painted and aged to look like marble and other stone faux textures. Consider travertine, tile, mosaic, parquet, hardwood, or even cork for the finished floor. Avoid carpet and vinyl in high humidity areas—like wine cellars.
7. Racks and cabinets
Build the wine racks or purchase them. But get the dimensions at the beginning of construction to insure a proper fit in the cellar. There are numerous choices of bottle racks at various price points. Free standing racks with doors, wall mounted racks, bin-style racks, corner racks, island storage racks, wire racks, and wire cradles to name a few. Pre-made racks are generally sold in several widths, and in several heights. Popular heights are: 24, 36, 48, 62, 72, and 90-inch models.
8. Common wine cellar mistakes to avoid
• Store wine horizontally on the bottle’s side to keep the cork from drying out
• Sparkling wines and champagnes can be stored standing up
• Bad wine does not improve with age
• Keep the cellar temperature and humidity constant
• Sunlight and UV light will prematurely age wine
• Sparkling wines are sensitive to light.