I kept that in mind for the remodeled room that has become our cellar. Cooling units have made great strides since I first purchased one. After much research, I ordered a Wine Guardian unit from WineRacksAmerica.com. It’s a through-the-wall unit that we mounted over the door. The room has 465 cubic feet, and the unit I ordered is rated at 850-cubic-feet capacity. It’s working perfectly.
Siting Your Cellar
Whether new construction or a remodel, try to position your cellar in the interior of your home; avoid having it on an exterior wall. An interior positioning will help you avoid overworking your cooling unit, and save on your electric bill.
Your Wine Racks
You can choose to have racks for individual bottles, or diamond-shaped cubicles that hold multiple bottles. You can also purchase from an online company such as Wine Cellar Innovations or WineRacksAmerica, or have a local cabinetmaker custom build racks to your specifications. According to Wine Cellar Innovations, your cost for individual-bottle racks will be between $2.65 and $6.78 per-bottle, depending on the wood you choose and other factors. In other words, for 1,000 bottles, your rack would cost between $2,650 and $6,780.
I opted for a local craftsman, and was happy with the result. Mine are 14-inch-square diamond racks that hold 16 bottles per diamond. The diamond shape also distributes the weight equitably. The racks fit precisely in the space available. Alder was my wood of choice. I recommend using natural wood—no stain or finish. Bottles stored for a long time tend to stick to a finish, and the accompanying aromas from both stain and finish could affect your wines. Perhaps not, but why take the chance?
You’re essentially building a big refrigerator, so you want it to hold the cold. While it costs a little more, I asked for R-20 in the walls with the standard R-38 in the ceiling. It works really well.
A good seal is important. Jeff used a solid core door, and installed felt weather stripping to seal it. The seal is so tight that it requires a firm pull on the doorknob to close the door. My first cellar had a special wine cellar door made of fiberglass with an attached frame that I ordered from G.H. Slack & Son. That, too, needed a firm pull to close, and worked well.
Your cellar is now finished and you’re ready to load in your wine.
Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual and set the temperature for your desired level. Ideal cellar temperature is 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit; I set mine at 58 degrees.
Next, step into your cellar, close the door, and turn out the light. Allow a couple minutes for your eyes to adjust, then check for light leaks. If there are any, they’ll most likely be at electrical outlets. Wherever you find light leaks, you have air leaks, so ask your contractor to seal them using either Styrofoam cutouts inside the safety plate or injected foam insulation.
Now the fun begins—loading your wine into your new cellar! Devise a system so you know where to look when you’re planning on pouring a special bottle. I use a simple alphabetic system by brand, but use whatever system works for you.
You’ll not only enjoy the aesthetics of your new cellars, but also how much better your wines age.
What are you waiting for?