Wine Cellar Thoughts
Most people who enjoy wine are not in the market for that new high-end cellar for their wines that we see pictures of in Architectural Digest. Nonetheless it is sure interesting to see what extremes some people will go to live the passion of wine, fine living and exotic wood craftsmanship.
Over that past 3 years there has been market improvement in the formal wine cellar industry. “We have seen a 10% increase in sales of specially designed wine rooms over the last 3 years, with most of the increases coming as a result of an increase in new home sales,” says Keith Lewis-Director, Wine Cellar Innovations. “The sweet spot for our wine cellar designs are in semi-custom and custom homes.” It would be hard to define price ranges because home values vary greatly across the U.S. “We have done custom wine cellars for homes in the U.S., Bermuda, Canada and recently we have developed some clients in China,” says Lewis.
The best option for wine cellar additions are in newer homes where floor plans can allocate space for a wine cellar at inception of the building effort. Most custom cellars involve new home construction followed by remodeling of existing homes and lastly buyers moving to a home with suitable space for a new cellar.
“Often we come into a project after a local craftsman undertakes a wine cellar and then realizes construction of a cellar follows the process of design, engineering, and mechanical considerations,” said Lewis. All enclosed/self-contained cellars must first be designed around customer requirements. For example, is the cellar used for only storage or is it for entertaining, displaying, and collecting? The average size cellar sold is enough room to store 800 bottles. However, it would not be unusual to see a custom wine cellar storing 2,000 bottles of wine. Corporate/commercial wine cellars are a whole different set of challenges and involve detailed permitting and designs that provide different access considerations.
If a prospective homeowner of a new wine room/cellar was looking for home red wine storage they could expect a cost of $2,000 to $6,500 for custom designed racks and installation. For an average collection of 800 bottles, with some elaborate design features such as lighting of wines and exotic woods for racks and cabinetry, they should expect to spend $6,000 to $14,000. But just to put costs into perspective, should a customer want custom French Doors to showcase the entrance to their cellar, it would not be unusual to see just the doors cost $10-$12,000. Wine Cellar Innovations has designed and installed a custom home cellar with a price tag of $100,000. If wine were being collected and not just stored, it would not be inconceivable that a wine cellar would contain wines valued in excess of $750,000. In such cases, wine would be an investment for the homeowner.
The design and construction process is not as simple as installing bottle racks under a stair and calling it a wine cellar. Designs involve issues of: wiring to the proposed cellar location; placement of outlets and different light fixtures (lighting sets the ambiance of the cellar); refrigeration for different areas of the cellar; insulation requirements, and preparation of construction-vapor barriers, security, and marine plywood room encapsulation. “The worst possible event a designer and installer can have, or a homeowner can have happen, is to have condensation or insufficient refrigeration.” Refrigeration is not the same as air conditioning. By the way, refrigeration for a wine cave involves a system to regulate temperatures by zone and exact humidity controls.