Wine collectors and residential owners dream of building a wine cellar in their homes. This is no surprise as this can be a better way of showing off to friends, let the delicious Grenache or Oaked Chardonnay age gracefully, and increase the home’s value.
If this is the case with you, you must plan carefully before starting the whole project. Some rules need to be followed, and you can continue from there. Here are some suggestions when you are just beginning to build the cellar of your dreams.
What to Do
1. Think About the Usage of the Cellar
The first step that you need to do is to know why you are building a cellar in the first place. Do you want this area purely for storing wine? Or do you want this to be an excellent place where you can display your collection and keep your guests entertained at the same time?
Consider your style on whether you prefer the metal racks. Others want to build the traditional wine cellar racking made from wood for a more classic look. If you’re going to use the area for storage purposes only, then you may want to focus on getting the unstained wooden chips that are made from Redwoods or pine. The prices can vary, but they are very affordable.
However, it’s a different story when you want to create a room where you can proudly display your gleaming bottles and talk to your friends at the same time. You need to set a budget and be realistic about it. Of course, the more you want your storage space to be aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, the more expensive it will be.
The next thing that you need to consider is the type of racks that you’re going to use. You can get a combination of metal and wood if you would like a variety inside the cellar.
Premium hardwoods should be a priority like mahogany. Some will come from various finishes and stains, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Redwoods and custom-made racks will also add a distinctive look to the room. You can read more about rack designs in this link here.
Your personality and taste matter so be sure to add some features that you would like to see in the cellar. If you have the budget, you can build archways, waterfalls, and even little islands inside the room if there’s still space that can accommodate them.
2. Know the Optimal Storage for Wines
The ideal temperatures for storing your Cabernet Franc, Moscato, or Sangiovese ranges from 55 to 60 ?, and the relative humidity is about 70%. If these conditions aren’t met in places like your basements naturally, you need to create a more controlled environment to store your bottles.
Refrigeration systems or wine coolers maintain these optimal conditions, and they control the temperatures in the area. Get the best models out there so that you can successfully keep and serve your favorite Sherry at room temperatures.
The coolers or refrigeration systems will maintain the optimal conditions, but they are only excellent for the short-term. Most of the coolers may have variations that will be too wide, and they can’t properly store the bottles at the right temperatures.
It would be best if you got the units built to control the elements and have proper humidity conditions so that the wines will adequately age. The ideal place is a dark one, has minimal disturbances and vibrations as the bottles are aging.
3. Incorporating the 3 Critical Components of a Cellar
The three most essential components that you need to consider are the moisture barrier, insulation, and airtight seal.
For the insulation, the recommended minimum standard is R12. If you have the budget, go for R19, if possible. If the cellar shares an exterior wall outside, you can choose R30 insulation. The walls in your house may be constructed with 2″ x 4″ studs, and the bats to use should be about 2 x 1.5,” which results in a 3″ and a total of R18 insulation.
It’s essential to use a vapor or moisture barrier when you start constructing your cellar. The most common barrier being used is the six mils Visqueen which is the polyethylene sheeting. This material is wrapped around the entire room and outside, where it’s warm for more robust insulation.
Airtight seals prevent any air from leaving or entering your cellar. When the door is closed, the airflow mustn’t be disturbed. Doors should have weather-stripping and door sweeps to prevent air from escaping the room, especially if the door is closed.
4. Take Note how the sections of Glass Impact your Cellar
The glass will make poor insulation in wine cellars, and they have lower R-value in general. Even if you get those highly marketed thermal double glass panes, their R-value will only be in the range of 2 to 3.
This means you need to take into account where you put the glasses in your cellar and calculate the thermal load accordingly. When you know the exact numbers of your thermal load, you can get a unit that will match and maintain the room’s temperatures.
Search for companies in your area that can figure out the thermal load of your storage space for free. You can submit a picture and information on your cellar area’s dimensions, and the pros will take care of the number-crunching part.
Be careful when you shop around for the right cooling units and don’t rely on the rated capacities written by the manufacturers. Their assumed conditions can vary, and they can be different from the actual temperatures in your wine cellar. It still helps to be precise and to be able to calculate the load needed to maintain cooler rooms.
These are just some of the things that you need to do when building a wine cellar. You can check with the experts for other factors like concrete walls, wine racks, and storage for large bottles. The outcome that you want to achieve is beautiful to the eyes, and it will be a perfect place to age your champagne in the long run.
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