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Posts Tagged ‘wine cellar design’

Wine Storage Tips

July 16th, 2010 No comments

1. If the conditions aren’t right, the wine will rot.  There’s nothing worse than opening a bottle after years of storage, only to discover that instead of aging gracefully, it’s turned to vinegar.  Keep the temperature of your wine cellar, wine refrigerator, wine closet, or wine cabinet between 50 and 65 degrees F for red wine and 45 to 60 degrees for white wine.

2. Here’s a nifty trick: since heat rises, and white wines need cooler conditions than reds do, keep white wines close to the floor and red wines closer to the ceiling.

3. Maintain a relative humidity between 50 and 70%.  Click here for our discussion on the importance of the right humidity for wine aging.

4. Keep bottles out of the light as much as possible.  When you do need to flip the switch to read the labels, make sure you’re using incandescent, not florescent—the extra UV light from florescent bulbs can penetrate the glass and interfere with the wine’s aging process.

5. Store bottles on their sides to keep the cork moist (a too-dry cork can shrink or even crack, letting in too much air and ruining the wine).

6. Use racks specifically designed for wine storage.  Certain types of woods and treatments can impart undesirable tastes to the bottles or can not rot in the damp, cool climate of your wine cellar.

7. Since you want to protect your wines from temperature fluctuations, and the areas nearest the door of your wine cellar are most vulnerable to temperature and humidity shifts, keep the younger wines that you plan to drink soon near the door, and the investment bottles that you want to age in the back corners.

8. Protect your wines from vibration.  Put your wine cellar in an appropriate place (a professional can help you find one), and avoid picking up the bottles.  Hang wine tags on the necks of your stored sideways bottles and write the label information on them.  This way, you can browse through your collection without disturbing the bottles.

9. The best way to ensure your collection is organized is to keep a regularly updated database of what’s currently in your cellar.  You can use a book or even a computer spreadsheet.  There is also some nifty software built for managing wine collections. Your records should note when you bought the wine, its name, region, producer, vineyard name, price paid, estimated value and future value, and leave space for tasting notes—the most important part!—for when you finally drink it.

Humidity in Wine Cellars

July 6th, 2010 No comments

We know that wine has to be kept at a low temperature in order to age well.  It’s logical—we keep our perishable items cool so that they don’t spoil as quickly, and wine is, of course, a perishable item.  But what’s with the humidity thing?  Does wine really need to be kept at a certain level of humidity in order to keep from spoiling and aid aging?  Or is that just a useless feature that wine cellar makers have convinced us we need?  Bottom line: what does a wine refrigerator have that a regular refrigerator doesn’t?

The reason we need a humid environment in which to store wine mostly has to do with the cork.  So let’s talk about cork and it’s role in wine storage:  Cork comes from cork trees, which are mostly grown in Europe, and so is an organic substance.  (Incidentally, cork growing is a completely sustainable type of farming, since the tree is not killed to harvest the cork, and cork forests across the world protect many rare species of plants and animals, not to mention the cork farmers that rely on the trees for their livelihood.  Click here if you want to read our argument in support of keeping corks natural.)

Cork is the ideal material for sealing wine bottles, because it can expand and contract as its environment changes.  This is particularly useful for wine, because the glass bottles wine is kept in change their shape with the weather—cooler temperature cause the silicon dioxide molecules that make up glass to squeeze closer together, shrinking the bottle.  Warmer conditions cause them to spread out, expanding the bottle.  Although you want to protect your wine from temperature fluctuations, it is naturally and unavoidably exposed to a variety of environments (when it’s being bottled, when it’s being shipped, and when you’re taking it home from the store, for example).  The plastic nature of cork means that it expands and contracts with the glass, maintaining a tight seal between your wine and the outside world.

So, corks are very important for maintaining stable conditions inside your wine bottle.  And humidity is essential to maintaining the integrity of a cork.  Too dry, and the cork shrinks, letting in too much oxygen and causing cork taint (when a cork is so dry it cracks when you pull it out, the wine is almost certain to be ruined).  Too wet, and mold can form on the corks—it can rot them out and taint your wine.  (However, a little mold on the outside of a very old bottle’s cork is perfectly normal, as long as the mold is only on the dry side.)

The ideal humidity level at which to store wine is 50%-70% relative humidity.  The best kind of humidifiers are generally separate from the cooling systems, although if you live in a humid area or have a certain type of cooling system, you might be ok.  Through-the-wall humidifiers are the most heavy-duty choice.

Wall fountains are an artistic way to add humidity to your wine cellar.

A wall fountain is one way of adding humidity to a wine cellar.

Another very cool option is a fountain humidifier.  These work by circulating water through a fountain, allowing it to evaporate into the air and humidify the environment.  These wine cellar humidifier fountains can be a unique and aesthetically pleasing part of a wine cellar, and they are sure a conversation starter—no one expects to see a fountain among the dusty bottles.  Fountain humidifiers, however, don’t provide as much humidifying power as through-the-wall humidifiers, so if you live in the desert, one might not be an option.

You can learn more about humidifying a wine cellar and types of humidifiers here in our Education Center.

The humidity factor is what differentiates a wine cellar from a refrigerator.  The right humidity is crucial to the success of your wine aging endeavors.  Humidity needs change from area to area, and humidifiers require that your wine cellar is properly insulated and sealed to work properly, so make sure you contact a wine cellar professional about your specific humidification needs.

Custom Wine Cellar Photo Tour

May 27th, 2010 2 comments

Sometimes, even the best-chosen words fall short.  When you’re talking about some of the incredible wine cellars that Vintage Cellars has designed in the past, the pictures really are worth a thousand words.  Today, rather than waxing philosophical about wine tasting or discussing at length the benefits of wines from a particular climate, let’s take a pictorial tour of some of Vintage Cellars’ past projects.

I love the interesting shapes of the shelving in this wine cellar.  The curves and angles make the room so much more than racks of bottles.  And the tracked lighting does a great job of highlighting different parts of the room, showcasing the myriad different lines and textures hidden in a wine room.

I think that the cabinet really makes this wine room: its the delicate yet rustic design breaks up the racking, and the placement gives the eye a focal point, setting off, rather than distracting from, the wine around it.  And I love the display racks here, that store bottles vertically with the topmost bottle angled up, giving the wine connoisseur the ability to easily see what’s in each column.

The simple, almost Asian-style racking in this room gives it a clean, modern feel.  But my favorite detail of this room is the strong, minimalist ceiling archway.  It breaks the room up and makes it visually interesting, something that is really challenging to do in this kind of space, which, if you think about it, is really just a storage place for hundreds of bottles.

Wow.  This room is just magnificent.  There’s a lot of you could say about it, but I’ll limit myself to my three favorite things: 1. The small tasting table worked into the wall creates an intimate space in this gigantic wine room.  2. The stair-style shelving in the middle makes the wine seem to be spilling into the room from the ceiling–it just says opulence and luxury to me.  3. The special place for wooden wine crates.  They add a warm, textural feel to the room.

I love the display of decanters in this one.  They add such flowy, artistic shapes to a room of angles.

These Spanish-style doors are just gorgeous.  And how cool is it to have glass doors leading into your wine cellar? To be sure, the Vintage Cellars team has to work hard to ensure that these delicate glass and wrought iron doors seal just as effectively as heavy glass ones, but isn’t the beauty worth the effort?

This is a perfect example of a small space used well.  The different dimensions created by the shelving really make it visually interesting: it’s a corner rich with wines from around the world, which have traveled from hand to hand and place to place to come together here.

Curves are always a great addition to a wine cellar, because they help break up the visual monotony of racks upon racks.  But this sweeping staircase goes far beyond.  It truly gives the room a dramatic, elegant flair.  And small details like the wicker-covered wine jug in the foreground really add a personal touch.  These are stairs you could linger on, pondering your wine selection, for hours.

A Vintage Cellars Custom Wine Cellar in the Wine Spectator

October 20th, 2009 No comments

Vintage Cellars just had a unique custom wine cellar featured in the Wine Spectator. Actually, Jeff Strauss of the Pamplemousse in Solana Beach, Ca was the true feature of the article, but it was a Vintage Cellars design and build.

This was a totally unique custom wine cellar project. There are curved display features, 3 rows of high reveal display, coved shelves, pull out storage, wine glass display and even a mirrored solid archway. The custom handmade wine cabinetry in this cellar really highlights the display of wine.

Check out page 30 in the October 31st issue of the Wine Spectator (“A Chef’s Education) to see the feature on Jeff Strauss’ custom wine cellar and the Vintage Cellars photographs.