Not only are home wine cellars a classy and elegant addition to your home, but they are super practical for keeping and maintaining a great tasting wine collection. Before you begin construction on your own cellar, here are 10 things to ask yourself:
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A simple question but one that steers the direction of how your wine cellar will be built. Why do you want to build a wine cellar? There could be a variety of answers to this question which will really help you in the design of your cellar. You might just want a functional cellar to store your collection, real simple. Or you might want a room that you’d love to show off to your family and friends with rich colors, artwork and possibly a tasting table with a couple of chairs inside? Whatever your reason, it’s good to write these answers down so that you can reference them when deciding the architecture and design of your DIY cellar.
Perhaps you’re not in the sommelier arena of wine collectors but you want to keep your collection safe from fluctuating temperatures, UV rays and the like. So a smaller cellar might suit your needs just fine. The smaller the cellar, the more creative you can get with the location; under the stairs in the crawl space? A nook in the basement? Let your imagination go with this one. The other extreme is having a grand storage room devoted entirely to your growing collection. Whether you’re storing 50 or a growing collection of 500+ bottles, ask yourself how much space you’ll need for your wines.
Now that you’ve decided the size of your cellar, where are you going to build it? Are you taking construction down to the basement, or are you converting an above-ground room in your home? Either location means two very different ways of keeping your wines chilled at a stable temperature
How many bottles are you wanting to store in your cellar? Keep in mind that if you want room to grow your collection this will obviously factor in. The capacity of your cellar will also fluctuate depending on your bottles since bottles vary in size from Jeroboam to Bordeaux to split bottles.
Following up on the varying sizes of bottles, you need to ask yourself how you want your wines to be displayed? You’ll have to do your research into the type of wine racks you’ll need to store and display your wines to your liking. Here’s a great site to help you out on this front.
Put your engineering cap on for this one and pull out the drafting table. There are five key factors to building your cellar. They are:
This would be the FUN part for me. How do you want to decorate/design your wine cellar space? Do you want to create a luxurious feel to the space with rich tapestries, wall colors, plush furniture maybe a chandelier? OK, that could be overboard for some. Maybe you just want to paint the space and add a few pieces of art on the walls. Think outside the box too and let your creativity take over when thinking about this aspect of your wine cellar. Since it’s a DIY project, you might as well make it as personal and aesthetically pleasing as you like. Go with an old world theme and frame some old maps to hang on the wall, paint a mural or hire a friend to, create a mosaic or purchase a piece of local artwork. Any personal artistic touches will add to a warm and inviting wine cellar.
If you’re building your cellar in a space that already has a good cooling environment for your wines, then you could bypass this step. However, most cellars will need some kind of conditioning/cooling system to keep the storage space at 55° F and the relative humidity at 60-65%.
The CellarCool CX4400 Wine Cellar Cooling Unit(Amazon) and the CellarCool CX2200(Amazon) both get great reviews on Amazon.
Along with the cooling system, you’ll probably want to look into a humidification controlling system as well. These units maintain that 60-65% relative humidity environment in your cellar. Too much humidity or too much dryness in the environment can ruin your wines. In case you haven’t realized yet, it is very important that your wines be stored in a stable environment! The Wine Guardian (Amazon) can do this job for you. Check it out here.
Last but by no means least, is your pocket-book! What’s your budget for this kind of project? As you’ve read now, the cost of a DIY wine cellar doesn’t end at the cost of lumber, drywall and a few wine racks. Make a checklist of all your must-haves (You need a decent cooling system) and your wants (you’d love that fancy lighting fixture that turns off automatically) and then your can-live-withouts (can we still get that Picasso to be the centerpiece of our cellar?) Who knows, maybe you can go all in with a limitless budget, but in reality it’s good to set goals and see just exactly how far your money will go.
Finally, don’t forget to invite me to your wine and cheese party; I’ll bring the chocolate 😉