Building a wine cellar and doing it right.
Building a wine cellar doesn’t seem that complex at first thought. Hang some racking, find an air conditioner and be done, right? In the DIY world, there are many homeowners that want to tackle these wine cellar projects themselves. But then, months later, maybe the cellar isn’t cooling properly but they just don’t know why. Building a cellar the correct way is an investment, not only for the cellar itself, but the cellar is often protecting a large investment in wine as well. There are many facets of building a wine cellar and using a licensed professional like Heritage Vine is the best way to ensure that your cellar is done the right way from start to finish.
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
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.
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.
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!
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