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A Guide For Building Your Own Wine Cellar

A Guide For Building Your Own Wine Cellar

Have you ever thought about building your own wine cellar? Do you have a huge wine collection and thought about upgrading your wine storage? Or are you planning to start one but don’t know how to begin?

If you’ve answered ‘’yes’’ to any of these questions, then you‘ve come to the right place. Whether you want to add value to your home, showcase your entire collection in one place, host your own “wine tasting’’ event, or simply want to improve and produce high-quality wine, all you need is a wine cellar.

Whatever your goal is, we will help you make the wine cellar of your dreams come into reality. We’ve put together a list of things to consider to help you get started and we’re excited to share with you a few custom wine cellar design ideas at the end of this article.


What is a Wine Cellar?

A wine cellar is a room for properly storing wine bottles or barrels to cultivate the best flavors and aroma over time. The purpose of wine cellars is to protect the quality of the wines from changes in temperature, humidity, vibration, and light exposure to avoid spoilage and ruining the flavor. To ensure your wines age to their optimal conditions, you must store them in a room with the ideal temperature and humidity levels as these factors can make or break the quality and market value of your wines.

The 2 types of wine cellars:

Prior to building a wine cellar, it’s necessary to understand the differences between these two types of wine cellars which will be briefly discussed below.

1. Passively cooled wine cellars – are built-in rooms that are usually found in temperate climates, basements, and underground spaces that are naturally humid and cool.

Pros: A practical solution for wine storage, cheaper to build and maintain, you don’t have to worry about power outages, and most importantly they are environment-friendly.
Cons: Since we have no control over the weather, outdoor temperature and humidity changes naturally occur and might degrade the quality of your wines.


2. Actively cooled wine cellars – are cellars that use a climate-controlled system such as a wine cooling unit and proper insulation to help maintain the ideal temperature, humidity, and other factors at all times. If you don’t have a naturally cool subterranean space or live in a place that is too hot or too cold, then you have to invest in wine coolers to save your wines from temperature fluctuations.

Pros: The best solution to maintain wine quality, temperature, and humidity swings are effectively managed and controlled.
Cons: Expensive to build and maintain, installation of systems and insulation can cost you thousands of dollars, quite complex to build since you need to consider where you'll put electrical outlets and what kind of wine cooling unit would work best for your space.


Location of your Wine Cellar

The first step when planning to build your own wine cellar storage is to find a suitable location. The basement is the best choice since it’s easier to keep a consistent temperature, humidity, and is isolated from other factors such as direct light and vibrations. A wine cellar under the stairs sounds lovely, however, people often use the stairs causing vibrations. So, think about what matters to you the most when deciding where to put your wine cellar.

Avoid insulated rooms and garages–they’re designed for cars, not wines, so it’s better to avoid those kinds of spaces. Never build your wine cellar in an area where power or mechanical problems often occur.

You may consult with a wine cellar design specialist or contractor to build your wine cellar, as they can help you choose components that will complement your style and blend in with the rest of your space.

Wine Cooling Units 

Temperature and humidity fluctuations are inevitable and can massively affect the quality of your wines. Remember that temperature control should be your top priority when it comes to building wine cellars. The ideal temperature for wine storage is between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity of 50-70 percent, which a wine cooling unit can provide and maintain.

We found the best wine cooling units available in the market and we highly recommend these brands:

Not sure what kind of wine cellar cooling unit you need? Here’s a very helpful guide to enlighten you in finding the best wine cooling unit for your wine cellar: 9 Best Wine Cellar Cooling Units

Installation Type

Once you know how much space your wine cellar requires, selecting a wine cooling system that fits the size of your cellar and the kind of installation will be easy. These are the types of cooling systems:

Ductless Split 

This type of cooling unit is the most efficient because it can easily cool your cellars. The condenser and evaporator are split. They are often noisy and need a lot of space for ventilation. This is a cost-effective solution for larger wine cellars because it doesn't require any in-wall construction. If you just have a small cellar, this is a more expensive solution. 

    Ductless Split Wine Cooling Unit


    Ducted Split

    These cooling units provide you complete control over the temperature and humidity levels in your cellar through ducts. One of the advantages of a ducted system is that it can be placed up to 25 feet away from your cellar, reducing noise and vibrations while also leaving more space, depending on the installation.


      Ducted Split Wine Cooling Unit

      Self Contained

      These types of units are the easiest to install. It's just like installing an air conditioner in your wine cellar. They are also very affordable and have temperature and humidity controls built in. This unit works best in small cellars.

      Self Contained Wine Cooling Unit


      Fully Ducted - Self Contained 

      This type of unit has flexible installation options compare to Self Contained. They can be installed up to 25 feet away from the cellar, allowing the cool air to flow into the cellar and the heat exhaust ducted outside. Noise can be eliminated with this type of system, depending on the installation.

      Fully Ducted - Self Contained


      Cabinet cooling systems have a compact design to fit wine cabinets and other constricted enclosures. 

      Cabinet cooling system


        Important Factors to Consider for Optimal Wine Cellar Storage

        1. Temperature

        As previously stated, the best temperature for keeping wines in prime condition is between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything that goes beyond that range speeds up the aging process, causes oxidation, and compromises the flavor and aroma of wines.

        Since wines are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, it's important to keep them at a consistently cool storage temperature, which a wine cooling unit can efficiently do.


        2. Humidity

        Humidity control is crucial for proper wine storage because humidity levels have a significant impact on the corks. When the humidity level is low, the corks can dry up prematurely, allowing large amounts of air molecules to enter the bottle and deteriorate the quality of the wine as a result. If the humidity level is too high, it can damage the corks and can cause mold to grow.

        To avoid these from happening, your wine storage should be maintained best at around a humidity level of 50-70 percent.


        3. Light

        If your wine bottles are exposed to an intense, direct light source, a chemical reaction can occur which can “cook” and alter the wine’s flavor. Wines are reactive and vulnerable to lighting, especially the light-bodied ones. So, the lighter the wine, the more care you should take when storing them.

        The types of lights to avoid: 

        • Direct sunlight
        • Electric fluorescent
        • UV lighting

        It’s best to keep them away from harsh lights and store them in a dark, dry place to preserve their quality. You may also safeguard wine bottles by storing them in a double-layered glass with UV protection. However, if you want to add some glow and ambiance into your wine cellar, you must pick the right type of lighting such as dimmable LED lights because they emit very little heat and can be dimmed when needed.


        4. Vibration

        Did you know that vibrations can ruin a wine’s aging process?

        Vibrations can disrupt the sediments at the bottom causing chemical reactions when mixed with the liquid, which can alter the taste of the wine. Store your wines away from huge machines, noisy appliances, and doors to keep the bottles from shaking.

        Natural calamities such as earthquakes are uncontrollable. However, you can prevent these vibrations by padding your wine cellar and storing the bottles in sturdy wine racks to keep them safe.


        5. Other external factors and hazards

        Other external factors to consider are security and safety standards like theft protection, fire prevention, and so on.

        If you want to learn more about proper wine storage, here are the best-storing tips and advice you could get.


        Custom Wine Cellar Design Ideas

        Now that you've figured out the essential requirements for building a wine cellar, it's time to choose your style. There are 3 styles of wine cellars to choose from: Traditional, Modern, and Transitional.

        • Traditional – If you love warm tones, natural stones, wood floors, bricks, wood wine rack, rolling ladders, barrel ceilings, and basements with exquisite details, then choose a traditional style.
        • Modern – if you enjoy a clean, sleek look for your wine cellar, built with stainless steel, metal wine racks, and glass walls, then go for the modern style.
        • Transitional – If you want a combination of both, then you’ll definitely love the transitional style. This style is a hybrid of the best features of both modern and traditional wine cellar design.

        When it comes to design, we all have our own preferences. Determine which wine cellar style best suits you based on your desired qualities, features, and needs for your wine cellar. Hope this article helped you and provide you with some inspiration in building your own wine cellar.

        Previous article 9 Best Wine Cellar Cooling Units
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