How To Design The Perfect Home Wine Cellar

A gorgeous wine cellar with hundreds of bottles of wine

For those of us who enjoy a good glass of wine, you can also appreciate the care and intentionality that comes with wine storage. Having a wine cellar in your home provides you with an optimal place to store, organize, and present your collection while being easily accessible. Whether it’s a nook under the stairs, a full-sized walk-in cellar, or a custom wine bar we want you to have the tools you need to effectively organize and store your wine. That’s why we reached out to the wine connoisseurs from Toronto to Sacramento to provide you with a few tips and tricks to designing the perfect home wine cellar

Plan it out

Creating a wine cellar is the perfect opportunity to add sophistication, personality, organization, and storage in just one area of your home. Online is a great place to look for photos and inspiration but creativity and ingenuity can turn just about any extra space in your house into useful wine storage. From closets, stairwells, cupboards, basements and everywhere in between your new wine cellar is just around the corner. – Cellars Wine Club

Make it your own

People sometimes lose sight of the fact that a custom home wine cellar is just that: custom. Design it to your needs, to your habits, and to the way you collect wine. This could be as simple as constructing the shelving around your height, to creating temperature zones that favor the type of wine you most like to collect and consume. – Pairs With Life Podcast

Consider accessibility

One of the most important things to consider when building your wine cellar is accessibility. Be sure to keep the wines you drink most often and the wines that don’t need to age very long in a spot where you can reach them easily. The main objective to cellaring wines is to drink them when they are in their prime. If your whites and rosés are buried in the back, you may forget about them and miss the window when they are drinking their best. – Unraveling Wine

At Three Sticks, we love both our Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs chilled before enjoying. For ease of the quickest grab without worry, we put our most ready to enjoy bottles on top and those we’d like to cellar longer on the bottom. It’s important to lay the bottles flat so that the cork remains wet and plump to keep any extra oxygen out of those delicious wines. Be sure to have a few large formats (aka, the Big Boys), at the ready too! You never know when your Pinot and Chard-loving friends may stop by! – Three Sticks Wines

Stability is key

Good wine likes it cool and steady! As long as the wine cellar has a stable temperature anywhere between 12-20C with less than 1-degree fluctuation from day to day, your wine should keep perfectly well. Humidity is less important so long as you keep any bottles with corks on their side to keep the cork wet. Most cool, dark places are suitable so long as they are not subject to large daily fluctuations in temperature. – Signature Cellars

A man holding a large bunch of wine grapes

When it comes to creating a space in your home for wine, two things that you must keep in mind are temperature and storage. Wine bottles – no matter red, white or sparkling – need to be laid on their side so that the wine remains in contact with the cork. As for the temperature of where you keep your wine, keep these temps in mind: red wine -55 degrees; white wines and sparkling Wines: between 40 and 50 degrees. Finally, the size of totally up to you how big or small your want your wine fridge to be – just ensure that it best serves the space you choose for it to be. Cheers! – Wine With Chas

Invest in sturdy storage

Cellar doors need to be stabilized to prevent damaging the vaults. Stable shelves are made from thick stock. Over time, these shelves will lose their stiffness and will need to be replaced. That is why it is recommended to purchase good quality solid wood shelves, which will last for many years. They should be free from obvious flaws such as cracks and stress cracks. With just a little bit of time and care, you can make sure your wine is safe from moisture and dirt. – Soocial

Don’t neglect humidity

Low levels of humidity cause the corks to dry out too quickly, causing air molecules to enter the bottle and spoiling the wine’s quality. High levels of humidity damage the corks which allow molds to enter and grow. To avoid this, maintain a humidity level of 50% – 70% in your wine cellar. If you’re not sure how to determine the humidity level, you can always purchase a hygrometer for around $20 at your local hardware store. – Wine Coolers Empire

Stay still

Why would wine care if you shook the bottle? Two reasons: too much shaking can prematurely age it, and not in a good way, and if the wine is a red, sediment gets disturbed from the bottom and distributed around the bottle. The result is a glass of grit instead of a glass of wine. So don’t store your wine where vibrations, good or bad, abound. – Wine Cellar Consulting & Management

Prioritize function over aesthetics

Take care of the product first, decor second. People get caught up on aesthetics or convenience and forget that wine evolves — some consider it a living thing. It’s constantly changing depending on its environment. So it needs to be nurtured and protected. Temperature, humidity and light are the three major elements I would keep in mind when designing a wine cellar. Everything else is peripheral. – VinoGal

Use properly insulated glass

If deciding to use solid glass for your cellar, remember that it literally has no r-value unless the glass is sealed double-pane inserts in metal frames.  Stand-alone solid glass, 10mm or 12mm has an r-value of roughly 0.12   This means when sizing for a cooling unit, this glass cellar is so thermally-inefficient that you will need a cooling unit rated for roughly 3-4 times the room size to make up for the poor r-value.  If the glass is facing the sun, make sure you use a UV treatment to the glass, or you will be essentially cooking and ruining your wine. – Tru Woodcraft

An essential for many wine collectors is a glass door to display the beauty inside but ensure to use a thick and air-tight door, which will prevent uncontrolled conditions from sacrificing the integrity of your wines. – Sand & Birch

The row of a gorgeous, green vineyard

Location, location, location

Choosing the proper location is key.  Think of it as if your wine needs to “rest” until it is time to drink.  This means your wine needs to lie on its side in a cool, dark place free of disturbances.  A basement, temperature-controlled garage or even a closet could serve this purpose.  Be sure to keep it away from sunlight and vibrations, such as those caused by an appliance in your home. – Pams Passport

Ever see a wine cellar built under a staircase? I love the idea of using a nook of space to store my favorite wine. The doors would be modern with a stylish handle and the lighting – that’s what sets a beautiful cellar apart. The position of the lights and how they reflect off the walls, wine case and glass on the door are what attract the eye and what reel people in, every time. – Culture Wine Blogger

Take advantage of wine tech

If you’re considering investing in either a wine fridge or a modern and expansive cellar, this is the perfect time to also grab a Coravin. Coravin is a bit of wine tech that allows you to extract a small (or large!) amount of wine from the bottle without exposing the remaining wine to oxidation, the rest of the wine can be put away for up to several years without any accelerated aging. Enjoy a single glass of that 1995 Petrus tonight and next month and next year. Starting at $150 I think it’s a no-brainer to really increase your enjoyment of what’s in your cellar. – WineSkipping

Focus on organization

We recommend organizing your cellar by varietal and then by region, so make sure you have a spot for our award-winning Puget Sound Pinot Noir. Most importantly, make sure your cellar is filled with wines you love and that you are excited to share with friends. No need to wait for a special occasion to open those bottles you’ve been saving, pop it open and enjoy! – Bayernmoor Cellars

Consult with the pros

To achieve the desired outcome of a custom-built home wine cellar, it is essential to engage an experienced and specialized company in building temperature-controlled wine cellars, who have all the knowledge and expertise in their field! To avoid condensation and mold problems in the future, the wine cellar needs to be correctly insulated and the size of the wine cooler unit needs to be chosen by an experienced tradesman in this field! – Caesar Wine Cellars

Be redundant with your equipment

An oft-overlooked part of wine storage equipment is redundancy. It’s important for a wine cellar to have two independent refrigeration, humidity control, and electrical systems. If one of the systems goes down or you lose power you won’t have damaged wine and you won’t be scrambling to call a mechanic. – Wine Storage Partners

Originally published on Redfin

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