7 Steps to Produce a Connoisseur's Wine Cellar

7 Steps to Produce a Connoisseur's Wine Cellar

Paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin, wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us all happy. Regardless of your belief in a higher power, opening an easy-drinking red is as near to paradise as some of us get on Earth. So it’s not surprising that an increasing trend in house design and preparation is a dedicated area for a wine collection.

Whether you live in a sprawling country estate or even a very small city apartment, your house probably has a space which can be converted into a private wine storehouse.

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1. Determine the location. Location is the main consideration. You are likely to want to find a corner of your house that has no direct sunshine — basements are perfect.

Picking a location for your own wine collection entails understanding the fundamentals of building a wine cellar. When a wine cellar is constructed correctly, it can do a few tasks consistently and efficiently.

Your basement should keep a temperature of approximately 55 degrees Farenheit. So long as you stay within 3 to 4 levels of that, your wine will be fine. Any warmer and your wine will grow faster; any cooler along with your wine will grow slower. (I wish I aged like that; I live in Canada.)

Your basement must control humidity — the perfect amount is 57 percent. Humidity levels over 70 percent can actually lead to mold to grow in the cork, along with your wine could be ruined. On the flip side, a humidity level below 50 percent can give rise to a cork to wash out, spoiling the wine.

Everything about building a wine cellar is about how efficiently it controls humidity and temperature. If it does that nicely, your maintenance costs will be far lower.

You’ll also need a space appropriate for how big basement you need. You might be surprised that a wine cellar can occupy less room than you believed. Collections with 200 to 250 bottles could be put in as little as 30 square feet. But remember that you’ll need to get an adjoining room (also known as the exhaust room) that’s bigger than your basement space. I’ll explain this later.

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2. Do the framing, insulation and shingles. The design of your space could be handled with only some basic 2-by-4 or 2-by-6 walls. Either works, but a thicker wall will allow for thicker insulation, which means you’ll have a more controlled environment. Once your walls come up, I highly suggest having a spray-foam insulation. Spray foam is equally an insulator and a vapor barrier — essential to your basement.

If you opt not to go with spray-foam insulation, it’s a little more complicated.

You are likely to want to use a 6-millimeter poly moisture barrier on the exterior of all the framed walls. If you can not apply it to the exterior due to the area’s configuration, then simply wrap it inout and around each one the studs. You would like your insulation, not the poly, to be on the interior of the poly barrier. Then, using green board (mold- and mildew-resistant drywall), board the inside of the basement.

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3. Install a wine cooling unit. These are not exactly the same as ordinary heating units, since they also control humidity. They can not add warmth to the room, but they can remove extra moisture. There are many distinct products and methods you can use to cool the space, but the easiest is a through-wall unit like a Koolspace KoolR, pictured here. It works using a very simple premise: creating a cold room on a single side of the wall along with a warm room on the opposite.

Units like these are installed simply through the design of the wall. The unit cools and controls humidity in the basement, while exhausting heat to the exhaust room which I mentioned before. The exhaust room needs to be large enough to absorb this heat.

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4. Choose your lighting. Wine cellars are all designed to be cool, but we also want them to seem cool.

If you adore your basement, you might want to leave the lights on and respect it, so the style of lighting you choose is paramount. Normal incandescents and halogen bulbs emit a lot of heat — way too much for a basement.

There are many incredible LED lighting alternatives, which emit virtually no heat. Track lights, puck lights and LED strip lights can all light a space in interesting ways and showcase your collection.

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5. Produce a doorway seal. This is the place where the designer in me takes over. Frameless 10-millimeter glass doors enable the best viewing in your space. They assist showcase your own collection and look extremely good doing this. That said, at a minimum you need to create a seal in the doorway. Proper techniques mean having an exterior-grade, insulated door, and if you employ any glass, then it has to be double paned.

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6. Add humidity. This can be completed in a couple different ways. A fundamental humidifier can actually provide you everything that you need. But why not do something with a wow factor?

Try using an indoor fountain or waterfall to help add that moisture that you need. It will serve a significant role and become a showpiece in the basement.

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7. Decide on how to display your wine. What will ultimately make your wine cellar stunning is how you store your wine. Using many methods — racks, storage and display — will include interest. The very best cellars showcase their finest wines while still finding ample room for everyday choices.

When custom shelving doesn’t fit your budget, try ready-made metal or pine racks. Either way, your wine cellar will be a constant conversation piece each time you amuse, and as I’ve discovered, a wine cellar is a great way to make friends.

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