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Building a Wine Cellar

There is both an art and a science in building a wine cellar. The science has to do with the environment or atmosphere that wine requires in order age properly. The art has more to do with the social aspects of wine collecting.

A serious wine enthusiast has invested, or is planning to invest, a significant amount of money on his or her collection. As the maturing process usually takes years, the proper storage of the collection is very important in order to ensure that the collection is safeguarded during the aging process. Also, sharing wine experiences and knowledge with friends and family is part of the enjoyment of wine collecting.

There are two important factors to consider when planning a wine cellar. The first is location. The cellar should be located so that the proper environment for maturing your collection can be developed. Although a proper environment can be created almost anywhere, the cost of doing so becomes a factor. (See the article “Fundamentals of Wine Storage” for more information). The second factor is the “social” issue that will influence your decision making. Ask yourself, am I likely to invite someone to “see” the cellar? And, do I enjoy sharing a tasting experience with others? If you answered yes, then you probably want to create an area to do so.

Creating the perfect environment for maturing wine has to do with temperature, humidity, and light control. The factors influencing the perfect social environment have more to do with ambiance and comfort. Remember, if you have created the perfect maturing atmosphere, then you have created a chilly space without a lot of light. This is not the space where you will want to spend a lot of time with your family or friends. It would be like entertaining inside a walk-in refrigerator!

The solution is to develop an area that has both a tasting room and an actual cellar. A glass door and/or a window between the tasting room and the cellar will certainly add to the ambiance, not to mention letting you “show-off” a bit. Although it is a somewhat of a compromise to the perfect maturing environment, building the cellar with these glass elements will add to the overall project. Just be sure that exterior light sources can be shaded from the cellar when the tasting room is not being used.

The size and decoration of both the tasting room and the cellar has to do with the number of bottles in your collection and the style in which you will entertain your family and friends.

We would like to share our experience in building wine cellars and tasting rooms with you.