Cellar Your Wine

The purpose of this Report is to help the consumer understand state-of-the-art options in preserving and storing wine. Find out what advantages wine cellars offer, and explore the fundamental equipment such as: wine racks and cooling systems necessary for chilling and storing wine with modular- kit and custom cellar options. For alternative storage and chilling, review which manufacturer's wine coolers and cabinets are worth buying.

Table of Contents:


Wine cellars are emerging in the homes of both serious and entry-level wine collectors and, the trend is growing. One can build a wine cellar essentially anywhere inside the home and standard equipment like wine cooling systems and racks are readily available for purchase.

What is a Wine Cellar: This is a climate controlled environment that similar to the wine caves in France produces an excellent environment for both storing and aging wine. What the much revered wine caves have taught us is that you don't have to be a commercial wine maker or winery to enjoy in the collecting, aging and storing of wines.

What you do need, however, is to create an environment where humidity and temperatures are consistently regulated. In order to do so, you may elect to build a wine cellar, which will entail not only a special cooling system and equipment, but also a room constructed with materials including: vapor barriers, insulation, and green boards. Once built elements of design come into play. Some wine cellars serve as pure storage. Others are more ornate.

Cost: Wine cellars can be costly or they can be affordable depending upon the scope and design. Size is an important determinant of cost; however, other factors including: storage system (racks), type of wood (redwood, mahogany, teak, pine) and refrigeration system are also weighted into the cost. How one chooses is based on personal preference, and collection size and budget, are important deciding factor. However, remember that with building a wine cellar, one can go for the no-frills storage option: like a wine cellar the size of a closet with modular racking, or go for the-full-frills option, complete with endless customization from floors, door, counters, to a wine room that rivals a lovely Napa Valley Winery. To explore the various options, from wine cellar design and customization, to cellar equipment and software and find more information about wine storage, read on.

Custom Wine Cellars

There are a number of design choices to consider when deciding to build a wine cellar and the first question to ask yourself is do you want to build it yourself (with the help of a contractor or builder) or do you want to hire a company that specializes in wine cellar design. For those looking for an affordable option, modular cellar unit kits are available. More popular though, is to select rack kits and other pre-fabricated designs rather than more expensive custom design.

Tip: How do you determine what size wine cellar to build? First consider how many bottles you currently have and how many you would like in your cellar

Custom Wine Cellar: Since 95% of those with wine cellars use them as a showpiece, (in addition to storage and aging) it is not surprising that there is a growing interest in customization. Costs for building and designing a custom wine cellar will vary based upon factors such as: cellar size, and types of equipment and materials chosen. People who choose customization tend to have higher budgets and are willing to spend more to get what they want.

Customization can include:

  • Custom wine racks
  • Custom cabinetry, countertops and flooring
  • Individual display racks, bins, and case storage
  • Custom cellar doors
  • Custom stonework and woodwork

In addition, accessories can add a personal touch and help customize a wine room. Both wood carvings and moldings, along with art work and murals, can add a truly spectacular effect. Add to this, handcrafted wood or stone work, entry door design and glass etchings and the wine cellar can reach new levels.

Wine Cellar Doors

Wine Cellar Door Nuts and Bolts: Doors installed for residential and commercial wine cellars need to be exterior grade with weather stripping on all 4-sides of the door jam.
A bottom threshold is also necessary for creating a tight seal so that cool air doesn't escape.

Types of Wine Cellar Doors: There are only a handful of companies that design and manufacture wine cellar doors, however, those that specialize, like Wine Cellar Innovations, do an extraordinary job.

How much: You can buy a standard plain wood door (32"w x 80"h) for around $1,500 to $1,600 or spend up to several thousand dollars with special etchings, painting and border. Plain, grapevine and border design tend to be the most requested choice, and more cellars are being designed with French doors.

Wine Cellar Door Materials: Wood wine room doors are typical. Choices include: redwood, maple, oak, cherry, black walnut, and other exotic hardwoods. Also available are decorative wrought iron grills which attach to wood door frame and include glass windowing.

Wine Cellars: Accessories, Floors, Lighting

1) Accessories: There are a number of useful wine accessories and gifts for the wine lover. Some of the favorites include: bottle tags, wireless digital temperature and humidity guages and label savers. Additional accessories include: glasses, decanters and funnels, decorative aerators, stemware, corkscews, serve and preserve systems, buckets and chillers and Clef du Vin Pocket Wine Tasting Tool. For the best corkscrew around, learn more about the Metrokane Rabbit Corkscrew.

2) Flooring: Probably the most common flooring material used in wine cellar design is sealed tile. (For a custom design, tiles can be hand painted) Cork flooring is growing in interest as well as availability, and sealed hardwood is a mainstay. Note: Carpeting should be avoided.

3) Lighting : Typical lighting used is recessed canned lighting with dimmer switch. If a decorative light box or stained glass piece is to be displayed Fluorescent SlimLites are a very good choice.

Types of Wine Cellar Equipment

Earlier we discussed that you will want to decide who is going to build your wine cellar, perhaps a contractor. If you go this route, it is critical that he/or she knows the construction steps and materials necessary for building a wine cellar. We suggest looking over and passing along the following wine cellar construction guidelines.
It will demonstrate materials used in preparing a wine cellar including: vapor barrier 6mm plastic sheeting; R-13 and R-19 insulation, and give step by step instructions.

Wine cellar equipment such as the cooling systems, doors and racks will be discussed below, and for each one we aim to highlight the both the nuts and bolts along with design options.

Wine Racks and Storage

Wine racks are designed to store bottles either individually or in bulk. To prevent oxidation, wine racks are designed to store wine bottles on their side: this keeps the cork moist and the seal, air tight. With the optimal constant climate: Humidity between 50% to70% and temperature between 55 degrees to 57 degrees Fahrenheit, wine can be stored for as long as needed. Note: factors such as darkness, minimal vibration and clean air are also essential.

Types of Wine cellar Racks:

  • (1) Modular racks are designed with standardized dimensions and units and are typically easy to assemble and flexible to arrange and use. Bottle count varies but up to 200 is not unusual. These systems are the most affordable option and can be purchased online through a number of wine related stores and merchants. Typical material is wood; however, metal wine racks are also available.
  • (2) Wine rack kits - In a sense modular, but some kits are a step up, offering better quality wood, and in some cases, custom details like beveled rails and face trim. This option is more affordable than the above modular wine racks. Pre-drilled holes can make for easy assembly and hardware is included.
  • (3) Custom wine racks - Here you can determine your storage needs and have your wine racks built accordingly. Custom systems can include diamond cubes, custom sized wine bottle cubicles, and wood shelves for storing wine cases. This racking system is the most expensive. Individual bottle storage for most bottle sizes including Burgundy and many Champagne bottles will fit in standard 3 ¾" openings or cubicles. Magnum and other larger sized bottles will require custom racks or (4 ½" cubicles). Read wine storage racks review for more info.

Wine Cooling Systems

Wine cooling system nuts and bolts: Wine cellar cooling systems are designed to properly maintain a constant temperature (between 55 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity levels (between 50 to 70 percent) ; however, only under the right conditions. To learn more about how wine room cooling systems work, click here.

Wine Cellar Software and Management

Managing a collection of wine is no easy task and wine cellar software is designed to help with your inventory. There are a number of software programs around, and two, Personal Wine Curator and ESommalier couldn't be more different, at least from the price tag. Other programs like Uncorked out of Australia seem to have it all, with features enabling the user to graph the contents of their wine cellar. Here's a brief review:

ESommelier: With a directory of over 130,000 wines from around the world, you can catalog and search for your wines by simply selecting the country, region, variety, winery and vintage. ESommelier Wine Management System allows you to enter your own wine ratings and tasting notes for future reference. Useful for large collections, restaurants and where a true inventory system is needed. Estimated Price: $8,000

Personal Wine Curator: With the ability to pair both food and wine this software claims to be all that you want with nothing you don't need. Features include catagory lists for tasting notes, wines on order, wish list wines, wines ready to drink, wines out of stock and a few more. This software also allows you to overview your cellar enabling you to find out the value of your collection, bottle counts broken down into red, white, sparkling and more. Estimated Price: $35

Uncorked: This Software is well worth the money: starting at a few hundred dollars. With Uncorked, you can do the following: View wine notes using the supplied wine guide listing over 115,000 wines; estimate the approximate value of your wine cellar; know when your wine is best to drink; select the rack position for each bottle by using a virtual wine rack; allocate wine bottle tags to track your wine; graph the contents of your wine cellar; allocate wine bottle tags to track your wine; add or subtract a bottle of wine using the barcode reader. Estimated Price: Starting at a few hundred dollars.

Wine Coolers

As an alternative to a custom built wine cellar that can store hundreds to thousands of bottles of wine, wine coolers can be bought to store from 6 bottles to just under 200 bottles. However, a wine cooler is designed for short term storage: 2 to 3 years. Cost to this type of refrigeration will range from a couple hundred dollars and up to several thousand dollars. To learn more about wine coolers and manufacturers, read our review

Wine Cabinets

As an alternative to building a residential wine cellar, furniture-like wine cabinets engineered by leading manufacturers offer similar climate controlled environments for aging wine. Brands including Le Cache, Vinotheque, Eurocave, Vinotemp and Wine Cellar Impressions all sell a number of models varying by size/bottle capacity and design. Bottle capacity can go from over 100 and up to more than 600, (600+ bottle capacity cabinets tend to be more common with hotels and restaurants).

Advantages to buying a wine cellar cabinet versus building a cellar depends upon many factors including: the ability to take the cabinet with you if you move. Also, the prefabricated design, even including additional custom features added, requires little to no assembly as compared to building a wine room. Equipment and components like buying an Avanti wine cellars is easy and comes ready to use, whereas with custom wine cellars, you have to buy individually.

Alternatively, building a wine cellar presents numerous advantages over simply buying a wine cabinet. One is that this wine room can increase the value of your home. Also, if budget allows, customization options offers great flexibility in both design and function, allowing for endless possibilities. One thing both have in common: you can locate either anywhere in your house.


As a collector of fine wines or as an enthusiast, the need to protect your collection in a proper environment is essential. Maintaining constant temperature and humidity control, darkness, minimizing vibrations and clean air are also essential. By building a wine cellar or by choosing a cellar alternative, you can enjoy the fruits of long term storage.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape