Building a proper home for your wines one bottle at a time.
As the years have passedmany of us have acquired a passion for wine. Maybe we indulge in only glass, with our dinner. How about a wine and cheese evening, with your friends? One thing for sure, I have always found an occasion to drink wine. A lot of people go to their local wine stores to taste and also to buy wine, either single bottles or by the case. 

The most common mistake people make is they store that wine in the kitchen cabinets, under the staircase, or out in the garage. But wouldn’t it be great to properly store that cabernet or merlot, and have it for that very special occasion? Doesn’t that sound better? Let me give you some steps to take to help you with your wine cellar project.

Walls and the ceiling
For the maximum insulation for walls needed, a 2 x 6 walls is recommended, (new construction) . For drywall, use waterproof gypsum, commomly known as greenboard. The paint finish should be water-based paints that are odorless. On your walls for decoration, you could  use real stones or brick to create that ancient European look. But the cost of your wine cellar might go up.

Lighting could have an adverse effect on wine if there is too much. It could also accelerate the aging of the wine. The best place for your new wine cellar would be a location with no windows. A great idea for lighting is to opt for LED lights. They don't produce any heat and this way you can control the room temperature with more ease. In order to control the luminosity, you can choose to install a dimmer switch with a timer for any overhead lights

The Floor
Your wine cellar needs a proper floor. Again think about any odor that might emit from your selection of paints, stains, or any other material that will be used. You can go with ceramic, slate, marble  or cork. Avoid materials such as carpet, which will retain odors and could mildew, because of the humidity. Plus, using ceramic gives the floor a great look.

The Door
Your wine cellar always needs a door which is insulated to keep the room temperature steady. DO NOT install an interior door, trying to match all doors in the surrounding area. Preferably an exterior door, complete with weather-stripping. You can always choose to have a glass in the door, but make sure it is insulated glass.

What about Temperature and Humidity?
Buying a cooling unit for your wine cellar is a very important step. This is not the area to try and save money. If you should always oversize when it comes to the cooling unit. The optimal temperature to store your bottles should be between 55 and 57 degrees. Too much variation of temperature could effect the aging of your wines. Even turn them into vinegar. Humidity should always be between 60 and 70 percent in the room.

Storage Systems
The racking system you choose to use will become the main aspect people will see when they walk into your cellar. So choosing one for maximum storage and pleasing to the eye is essential.You can select single racks, diamond bins, case storage, display racking, almost anything you could imagine. If you choose all wood racks, just make sure you know where your racks came from.  
Just remember that there is a wide variety of systems to choose from so take your time to pick one. 

Some Final Thoughts 
Always remember that cork in your wine bottle is porous, meaning odors could easily go through the cork. The bottles should always be placed horizontally so that the cork stays moist and keeps air out. Your wine cellar should not be the place to stock any fruits, chemical products or any other material that have scents which could ruin the wines. Also, do not to leave your bottles inside cardboard boxes because they could transmit an odor of wet cardboard.
 When considering a wine cellar for your home, it would be best to consult an expert. This will save you a lot of grief and aggravation later. You will be building this wine cellar for life and storing something very valuable, your wines!!

A Few Tips For Your New Wine Cellar
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Now that we have covered a few of the questions that you should ask yourself. Building a wine a wine cellar is not like building a kitchen or a bathroom. It’s time to ask some questions of the person that you will hire to build your new wine cellar. So be prepared when your contractor may give you a few funny looks as you ask these questions.

Questions to ask the company or person you choose to build a home for your precious wine:

First you need to ask the most important question:

1. How many climate controlled wine rooms have you built?
If the answer here is..Well I did this room one time that……Not a good answer! You want someone that has had experience with everything involved with a climate controlled room. It is one thing to add on a room or remodel a kitchen, but when it comes to wine cellars, you need someone that really knows.

2. What are you going to use for materials?
What will you use for the vapor & moisture barriers? How is this installed? The product used for this is one of the most important keys to building your new wine cellar. If you install it wrong, or someone forgets to install it. You might as well not have a wine cellar.

3. What type of vapor barrier are you going to use?
Your average contractor may not know the answer. If they don’t know the reasons behind the vapor barrier, At this point just say thanks and I will call an expert!

The next question will cover the refrigeration equipment that you are installing.

4. How much make noise will the cooling unit make, and where does it exhaust hot air? 
Some of the self contained units are noisy and usually exhaust hot air into the adjacent room. Are you using a split system? If they try to convince you it doesn’t matter, again just say thank you and call an expert.

5. What would happen in the event my cooling unit goes on the fritz?
If you have to return it to the factory, hopefully you will have a replacement unit quickly. Or can the cooling unit be repaired locally? If not, your wine cellar could heat up rather quickly. Your wine is not going to like this.

6. Does the cooling unit that you are using have the capacity to increase the humidity without any additional equipment?
This is kind of a trick question. Most cooling units do not increase humidity unless you add a humidifier. They simply take out some humidity. If you find you need more humidity, maybe a simple mister might do.

7. Does the contractors insurance cover the repairs if mold develops?
This goes hand and hand with question #3. If you develop mold or mildew, it could be because the wine cellar was not built right, the contractor should have insurance to cover this. Now it is not only your wine at risk, developing mold is very serious.

8. Where are the racks coming from?
Is the contractor building them or are they coming from a manufacture. Not that you are asking this to check up on them. The idea behind the question is just to know where your racks are coming from, you don’t any want surprises. You want to know that your wine bottles are safely cradled in the racks. You don’t find them laying on the floor one day.

9. This is about the door they are installing?
If your contractor says “We will match the doors here in the lower level, they are just hollow core doors anyway” Wrong answer…You need an insulated door, with weather stripping all around. You can have glass in the door. As long as it is insulated glass.

The last question is about your wine bottles

This last question  may sound a little funny. Ask them if they know the weight of a bottle of wine? Told you it sounds funny. But you are asking them to build racks for your wines, think about it. You are asking them to construct a room which will only house one thing…YOUR WINES!!!!

When you ask these questions of someone that you will trust with your wines, make sure you get answers that are correct. Not just something made up to sound good. If they get defensive through this questionnaire, again just say thank you and call an expert. It is not necessarily a bad thing if they admit to the lack of knowledge as long as they call in an expert.

Hope these steps and advice will help guide you properly if you choose to build your wine cellar one day! Any questions feel free to e-mail us.

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                                  Thanks and may all your wines be GREAT!!!!

                                                                   John Seitz
                                                     Master Wine Cellar Builder

Things to ask the company or person you choose to build a home for your precious wine