Interior of a custom residential wine cellar
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  • Building a wine cellar and doing it right.


Gone are the days of wine cellars being banished to dark, hidden basements. One of the latest trends in wine cellars is to bring the wine front and center into a room that’s frequently used for dining and socializing. Some of the most popular locations include kitchens, dining rooms and great rooms.

In these locations, the wine is not only accessible but it’s also become a showpiece and a focal point for the room. It’s important when choosing the location to not only think about the aesthetics though. Accounting for exterior walls that may be a part of the cellar, ambient room temperature and sunlight exposure are all very important factors in choosing the best location for the cellar and will also determine what cooling unit is best suited for the space, which is discussed further below

Luxury wine wall | What makes a good wine cellar?


Another aspect of building a wine cellar that has to be considered is the insulation (R value) of the walls, floor, and ceiling in the wine cellar space.

The minimum requirements for a dry walled cellar is walls insulated to R11 and ceilings that are insulated to R19. Insulating that these levels would also require the addition of a vapor barrier (lack of a vapor barrier can lead to excessive energy consumption and forming of mold and mildew).

For optimal insulation, our team recommend a 3” closed cell spray foam. With this type level of insulation, no additional vapor barrier is needed and the walls retain an R value of approximately R19. In building a cellar the right way, insulation is critical and more insulation is always better!

Another part of bringing the wine front and center is opening up the space with glass versus drywall. A glass enclosed wine cellar offers a timeless, open aesthetic that puts the entire wine collection on display. But single pane glass offers virtually no insulating value and this plays a huge role in determining the right cooling unit for the space.

Commercial traditional wine cellar in a New York wine store


Once the location and insulation are addressed, the cooling unit can be selected for the space.

Unlike a traditional air conditioner, wine cellar cooling units are designed for wine preservation. These units will have a temperature range that a traditional air conditioner cannot offer. Wine cellar cooling units are designed to retain some humidity in the cellar (regular air conditioners strip humidity) which is also important for idea wine storage.

When it comes to cooling a wine cellar, there are several factors that should be considered:

  • BTU calculations (including insulation used, any glass walls, windows or doors, overall dimensions of the cellar, exterior wall exposure, and ambient air temperatures).
  • Selecting a type of unit (self-contained, split, ducted) – many of these systems, particularly the split system, are very complex and will need a licensed HVAC contractor to install them properly.
  • Attic access and locations for cooling equipment.
Wine wall in luxury living area

These are just a few aspects that have to be considered – each wine cellar is unique and will present its own challenges that our professionals address for each custom cellar we create. If building a cellar is your dream, give us a call and we can make those dreams a reality!

Want to know more? Follow our journal to see our next post on Designing Your Wine Cellar.

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