Similar to wine caves, which are structures designed for storage and aging of wine, a wine cellar is a place where wine in bottles or barrels is stored. Its purpose is to protect your collection from fluctuating temperature, humidity, vibration, and heat and light exposure. While vineyards or wine merchants maintain large underground wine cellars, you can have your own within your house. The ideal location would be your basement where the temperature does not change much, where vibration hardly occurs because it is recessed in the ground, and where the space is dark. When transforming your basement into a wine cellar, you can hire a contractor or buy wine cellar kits that you can easily follow provided you have all the right equipment.
- Insulation. Insulation regulates the temperature of a room. It makes a room warmer when it is cold and vice versa. It reduces the rate of heat transfer, thus it is important to install proper insulation in your basement where you are going to build your wine cellar. Insulation is rated by thermal resistance, referred to as R-value, which signifies heat flow resistance. The higher the R-value, the greater is its efficiency. The amount of insulation you need for the walls is a minimum of R-11 and R-19 to R-30 for the ceiling. Install a vapor barrier to the warm side of the wall. You can make use of a 6mm polyethylene plastic sheet to act as the vapor barrier.
- Flooring. Select a moisture resistant flooring such as tile, stone, slate or hardwood. The floor supports the weight of your vintage collection, thus a strong flooring is important. You also need a vapor barrier sealed with a type of sealant compatible with the material of your floor.
- Door. Install a door that is weather-stripped and airtight, with a solid core, windowless and well insulated. That makes a wooden door an unsuitable option for your basement wine cellar. If you use a glass door, it must be of the dual pane insulated glass type. The cool air must not escape out of the cellar, hence you need to ensure the door is sealed properly.
- Lighting. Lights can damage the condition of your antique collection, but you need to install lighting anyway. What you need is to have dimmer switches to control intensity. Go for lighting fixtures specially designed for wine cellars to protect your collection.
- Cooling system. Select an air conditioner for your cellar that can preserve and age your wine collection appropriately. Ordinary home air conditioners are not suitable, thus according to your requirements and budget, select a cooling system that would match the heat load, insulation of your cellar and the size of the whole cellar room. A split system is ideal and durable, although it can be expensive.
- Wine Racks. Typical wine racks are made of redwood, mahogany, bamboo and other tropical hardwoods. Mahogany, however, is a popular choice because of its sturdiness and could last a lifetime. Mahogany is rot and decay resistant, especially important in the cool and damp temperature of the wine cellar. As for determining the number of racks you need to install, you need to know beforehand how large your collection is. It is important to seek a wine specialist’s recommendation in order to ensure that your collection is protected.
Depending on the size of your basement, you can also create a separate wine tasting room where after showcasing your collection from the wine cellar, you and your guests can enjoy a glass of sparkling vintage wine.