Ask an Expert: Building a Wine Cellar

There is something very seductive about the notion of having a private wine cellar in your own home. Once a luxury, it is now a common lifestyle trend.

The question: Can I put a wine cellar anywhere in my home? The answer: Yes. However, the rules of construction of that space must be followed, as they will have an impact on the performance and durability of your cellar.

There are three important factors that must be maintained: A consistent temperature (12 – 14 C), humidity (50 – 75%), and control of the amount of light. Taking these three factors into consideration, there is one single tenet that is of prime importance: location, location, location. The cellar can be in the core of the house, surrounded by interior spaces. For example: between the dining room and kitchen, perhaps in conjunction with a servery. Or it can be in a location surrounded by exterior walls. Example: under a front porch in the cold cellar space.

 Why build a wine cellar?
Wine has always been a symbol of opulence, wealth, and luxury. It’s now become a lifestyle trend; a social beverage that is a significant facet in entertaining and enjoying time with friends.

What styles are most popular now?
Styles vary depending on individual tastes. Traditionally, the “Tuscan Cavern” theme has always been a favourite; however, with the push towards contemporary design and styling, more refined and modern variations are becoming more prevalent.

What styles do you prefer?
I prefer to go against standards. I like to look at what everyone else does and do it completely different. I love to create new concepts and fabricate custom solutions – That’s my passion and that’s how I prefer to set myself and my work apart from the rest.

How would you approach designing a wine cellar for a condo/rental, where the wine collector may not be permanently settled, versus a wine cellar in a more permanent home?
There are many variations of self contained wine fridges that can be grouped and/or dressed for a “built-in” appearance – as long as you don’t hinder the ventilation aspect of the units. This is a great way to create a temperature controlled wine display that can easily be removed and relocated.

Would you suggest wine refrigerators versus a traditional cellar? And what is the difference between a cellar and a wine refrigerator?
A cellar is a blank slate that can be as large and as elaborate as you wish. It not only houses the wine but is room that delivers the full experience. It’s more of an investment for the connoisseur. The refrigerator units are a great solution when space is a factor. They are also valuable in addition to a cellar, in that wines that are used frequently can be available at hand and the select stock can be maintained in the larger cellar.

Can a wine cellar be portable, and can it be removed?
A built-in wine cellar is there for good. If portable or self contained refrigerators are used in the design, they can be separated and removed.

Can you give us an example of one of your recent designs that you would consider extravagant?
To me, extravagance comes from uniqueness and detailed excellence. The wine cellar I created in my own home is constructed of Walnut hardwoods, custom stainless steel fabrication, a custom Limestone floor and a variety of unique lighting options. The glass facade is also constructed using a Walnut hardwood frame where access is granted via a biometric lock system that reads your fingerprint and opens the door only to authorised users.

And what about the person that has an appreciation for wine, but perhaps does not have the extravagant budget or square footage?
Again, the self contained wine fridges that are available in a variety of sizes offer a great solution for this. We often use these fridges because they are so affordable. We group them together and then create a frame system with finishing trim details around them. We ultimately create the look of a built-in wall unit with a wine storage component without the hassles of building an entire wine room.