Corks & Craftsmanship

Residential wine storage blends beauty, function

Whether you are pairing a full-bodied glass of red wine with a filet mignon dinner or celebrating at a party with a bubbling glass of champagne, the taste of wine is enhanced through proper storage of the bottles. Wine enthusiasts with collections large, small and in between are looking for ways to store wine in their own homes.

Large temperature- and humidity-controlled wine cellars can hold and display thousands of bottles of wine. These cellars are built to create optimal conditions for wine storage and designed as beautiful home features.

Beginning the Build

There are several reasons you could be considering the addition of a wine cellar or wine display area to your home. Cindy Vander Zanden, a homeowner in Hortonville, shares her and her spouse’s reason for adding a cellar. “We make wine and were looking to add a space in our home to store it,” she says.

Bob Harrmann of Creative Closets and Storage in Appleton shares, “It is typically connoisseurs of wine who are looking for a good storage space.” If you have 100 bottles of wine or you are a wine enthusiast who owns thousands of bottles, you may have questions on how to start planning for a residential wine cellar. “I always start by asking the client what their goals are for the space and by seeing their wine collection,” says Harrmann. He adds, “The most important considerations at the start of a project are the quantity of bottles and the types of wine to be stored.”

Paul Driessen of Timber Innovations in Kimberly agrees, “The first things we ask about are the quantity of wine they are looking to store and for what length of time. We’ve worked on wine cellars that have held as many as 1,400 bottles of wine.”

There are some additional decisions to be made during the early planning stages of a wine storage project. “After learning the quantity, we ask whether they are looking to display the wine or just store it. We also ask if they are considering a climate-controlled room with a system to regulate temperature and humidity,” says Joe Englebert of PortSide Builders in Neenah.

Bordeaux in the Basement

Where is the best place for a residential wine cellar in your home? Driessen shares, “Most commonly, wine cellar projects are done in the basements of homes.”

The basement provides a space that is typically darker and cooler than the rest of the home making it ideal to house a wine storage area. Wine cellars also are frequently located in basements due to noise. “Cooling systems can be noisy, similar to the sounds of a furnace. So, wine cellars are most often placed in basements,” tells Harrmann. He adds, “A wine cellar can be placed on the main floor of a home, but it requires a satellite cooling system to reduce noise. Not as many people do this because of cost. If it is done, it is typically done during the construction of the home, not added later.”

For those who have smaller wine collections and are looking for a convenient storage space, there are alternative options to the wine cellar. “Generally if wine is stored in a kitchen or wet bar area, it is on a much smaller scale and not temperature controlled. We create pieces that are more like furniture for that purpose, they hold about 40 bottles,” says Driessen.

Creating the Climate

Wine is best stored in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. “When building a wine cellar, temperature and humidity control are the most important considerations. Temperature and moisture are controlled through sealing, insulating and conditioning units,” says Driessen.

“The ideal temperature regulation is 52 to 54 degrees,” shares Harrmann. This is most often achieved by installing a cooling system for the cellar, he adds. If a homeowner is looking to save money, a wine cellar can be placed on the outside wall of a basement though it is not optimal.

Vander Zanden tells, “Our cellar is in the lower level of our home. The room is temperature controlled with two cooling systems.”

Racking the Reisling

To help keep the cork of a wine bottle moist, a wine bottle is best stored on its side. There are a number of racking design options available to display wine collections in storage areas and cellars.

Mike Koslowski of Heritage Woodworks in Green Bay describes the racking for one of his wine storage projects, “The space was designed to store about 1,000 bottles of wine. The bottles lay on their sides with the labels facing outward so they can be read.” Another project Koslowski worked on organized each case of wine separately. The top bottle is racked with the label facing outward. The other 11 bottles of the case are placed in rack slots beneath the showcase bottle. This allows the owner to easily know which bottle of wine they are removing.

Driessen adds, “Box style wine racks are popular in wine cellars. They hold six bottles per side and 24 bottles per box.”

Incorporating a variety of wine rack styles is a design technique that can enhance the look of the space. “Typically, we custom build the racks to fit the space. It tends to look nicer if you integrate a mix of crisscross and straight style wine racks,” says Englebert.

Deciding on Details

Do you dream of a sleek and modern wine cellar or a space filled with vintage charm? Vander Zanden details the look of her wine cellar, “The room is all stone on the outside. It has a custom wooden door and a glass window that doesn’t allow light in. The plaster on the walls is heavy creating an Old World look. We also chose a paint color that gives the space a Tuscan feel.”

From paint to lighting, no detail should be overlooked when planning your wine cellar or storage area. Driessen shares that he worked with homeowners who incorporated faux painting techniques into their wine storage space to create the natural look they desired through art. He adds that lighting is another important consideration, “We often incorporate lighting accents such as LED lights.”

Extra amenities and appliances can be added to wine cellars and wine tasting areas of homes to enhance the space. “I worked on a project for a wine enthusiast, who wanted a full wine storage area in his basement. It included a dishwasher, sink, cabinets, shelving and a tasting pub table,” says Koslowski.

From large climate-controlled cellars to wine displays in basement areas, there are a multitude of options to fit your home. “Overall, we are very happy with our decision to incorporate a wine cellar into our home,” shares Vander Zanden.

—By Emma Martin

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