Building a wine cellar

    For the wine enthusiast, having your own cellar is a must – it’s a ready source of your favourite wines at your fingertips, without the constant hassle of driving to the bottle shop.

    Building a wine cellar is not challenging or expensive and in fact most people enjoy the process, though there are some basics you need to consider when designing the cellar.

    Location – the search for a location usually involves a little-used area like under the stairs, in the laundry, under the house or some other type of cubby hole. Many people are now incorporating a wine cellar in their house design. These are usually designed with a glass door or wall so the wine can be visible from a room. Alternatively you can now buy freestanding wine cellars which come in all sizes.

    As wine needs to sleep, and frequent disturbance of wine will agitate and spoil it, try and build your cellar where it won’t suffer the effects of vibrations. Under the stairs is fine if you have solid stairs or the racking is on rubber feet.

    Temperature – this is the greatest concern when cellaring wine. Today’s modern homes are not at all conducive to wine storage. Room temperatures are usually in excess of 20 degrees which is great for humans but lethal for wine. The ideal temperature for wine is 10oC to 13oC but several degrees either side of this is quite safe. You want to be sure your cellar is well insulated. Some people install a high grade air-conditioner to keep the cellar chilled properly.

    Humidity – other than temperature, the only element of concern is humidity as mould can destroy wine labels. Installing an air-conditioning unit will help eliminate this problem as it keeps the air temperature constant.

    Light  – darkness is ideal for a cellar as ultraviolet light destroys wine, one of the reasons wines are traditionally bottled in coloured glass. Consequently it makes sense to store wine away in a dark place.

    Materials – cellars can be made from just about any building material provided the exterior walls of the cellar are insulated to keep the temperature constant. Bricks are a popular choice. To insulate, insulation batts are used in standard walls for the most basic setup, right up to cool room styrofoam panels for the more advanced ones.

    Cost  this depends on your budget but the average 100 bottle store could start at around $5000, and then head upwards from there, depending on the type of racking you use, the size of cellar and whether you air condition it.

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