Wine Collections

Part 5 of 6

The Mechanics of Creating Your Cellar: Back to Basics

Where and how wine is stored are vital to maintaining its value—and this must be your main consideration as you plan proper storage space. Your cellar or storage area can take many forms, from a closet to a refrigerated unit to a custom-designed suite of rooms. While a home cellar may be impractical and not necessary, many stand-alone wine storage units can accommodate 30 to 60 bottles.

Whatever the structure, remember that climate control is the single most important consideration in preserving a wine’s quality; the optimum storage temperature is between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Hence, the best location for a wine cellar is below grade and usually adjacent to an exterior wall. This location will allow for easier holding and controlling of the cellar’s temperature in the event of a power failure or cooling equipment failure. The northwest corner is considered optimum, since this corner receives the least sunlight.

The possibility of water penetration from walk-out basement doors or nearby windows can be a hazard. It is recommended that you install water sensors to detect equipment malfunctions, plumbing leaks or flooding. You may also need a gas- or battery-operated backup for a nearby sump pump.

Insulate your cellar walls with a vapor barrier on the warm side of the insulation. A vapor barrier on both sides of the wall will encourage the growth of mold and rot.

Use sealed thermal pane window units and moisture-resistant drywall. If you want to incorporate cedar, redwood or mahogany, install it over the drywall. Adequate insulation is important to prevent the cooling unit from running excessively.

Use exterior-grade doors with adequate weather stripping on all four door sides. Slate, marble, stone, tile and vinyl are the most common floor coverings. Always avoid covering your floors with carpet because the high humidity makes it vulnerable to mildew and mold growth.

Next: Controlling Humidity: Essential to the Value of Your Wine Collection (part 6 of 6)