Building a Wine Cellar: Everything You Need to Know
When I was growing up, I would sneak into my father’s wine cellar. It was behind our laundry room and through a door, tucked back and hidden. I’d pull the light string and see—illuminated in all their glory—ancient bottles of reds and whites on wine racks covered in dust and cobwebs. It was magical.
As I got older and purchased my first home, that image never left me. Updating a portion of my downstairs into a secret wine den has always been at the top of my renovation list. Why? Because they’re so damn cool. And you know what? It can also increase the value of your home. The National Association of Home Builders found that 31% of new-home buyers named a wine cellar as their most desired amenity.
A wine cellar is a show piece, not only for your wines but for your home. Whether you’re dreaming about your own wine cellar—or already have one—here are a few basic tips on making it your perfect vino cavern oasis.
“With wine consumption and appreciation on the upswing, in-home wine rooms will become an increasingly popular trend."
Hidden Wine Cellar
I’ll start here. Why? Because hidden wine cellars are the coolest. Who doesn’t want a secret room in their house? You pull back a candlestick and a wall opens up. Now, I use the term “wine cellar” loosely because there are no rules on where you have your own. It can be in your attic for all I care. Hide it behind a bookcase, closet, or a kitchen island. The sky’s the limit, people! As long as it’s the perfect wine sanctuary for you and your collection.
Secret Bookcase Door ($2,999)
Murphy Assembled Laundry Door ($2,184)
Billiards Pool Cue Door ($1,448)
DIY Wine Cellar Basics
Although having a hidden wine cellar might be on your docket, you’ll still need to make sure that it is in a good environment to house your wines. If you already have a wine cellar, or are looking to build a wine cellar for your home, you should know the DIY wine cellar basics so that your wine is aging with grace.
If you're lucky enough to already have a cavernous basement locale with the ideal conditions, good for you! You can skip this step and get to picking out your wine cabinets and wine racks for that perfect ambiance to impress guests. For everyone else, here's what you need to know about securing your wine cellar and wines.
Wine Cellar Temperature
Temperature is the key to a properly maintained wine storage solution. Whether it's white, red, pink, or bubbly, 55° F is the ideal storage temperature for the proper aging of any type of wine. I know you've heard about keeping your whites at room temperature, but ignore it. Keep the temperature consistent—avoiding dramatic temperature swings—and your maintain a humidity of 60%. To do these things, a proper cooling system or integrated humidifier might be necessary.
Wine Cellar Location
I know you've got that dream of having your secret wine hideout in your basement, but consider the vibrations and humidity that your washing machine and dryer could produce. You also don't want your wines shaking from a boiler. Another deal breaker for a wine cellar location is a place with strong, direct light sources. Sunlight will "spoil your wine by reacting with its phenolic compounds, especially in light-bodied wines."
Creative Tip: Take advantage of those wasted under-the-stairs spaces or nooks and crannies.
Wine Cellar Materials
So, you're going at this on your own? Impressive. Our step-by-step wine cellar directions below should help you get a little bit closer to making your dream a reality. Honestly, it isn't that hard!
R12 and R19 insulation
Concrete walls in your cellar? Poly coat the walls and install rigid foam board insulation for a stronger moisture barrier before putting up your drywall.
Stick to hardwood, tile, vinyl, stone, or marble for your cellar flooring. You don't want a floor that'll create unnecessary humidity, mold, or mildew. Yes, carpet is out. If you do want to use concrete, seal it up first because it is a porous material.
Vapor Moisture Barrier
In building your perfect wine cellar, your main objective is to protect it from the outside elements. This will maximize your storage control over the aging process of your wines. Do to this, a moisture or vapor barrier is necessary. The last thing you want to deal with down the road is a moisture problem developing inside your walls. Cover the entire outside of the wine cellar with poly vapor barrier. The most common moisture barrier is 6 mil polyethylene sheeting.
Whatever entryway you decide on, whether it's hidden or not, you need to make sure that it has an airtight seal on your wine cellar door. When the door is closed, there shouldn't be a draft under the door or airflow seeping through the perimeter. If necessary, add a door sweep or weather-stripping tape.
Wine Cabinets and Wine Racks
And now for the fun stuff! The look and design of your wine cellar is largely dependent on the wine cabinets and wine racks that you line the walls with. That's why we've partnered with Vigilant, a top manufacturer of wine cellar craftsmanship, to bring you a few of our favorite designs right out of their catalog. They're also a fellow New Hampshire company!
Vigilant has many prefabricated modular wine racks or custom-built wine racks that are great for any spaces.
Wine Storage Tip: Bottles should be positioned horizontally so the corks don’t dry out.
Prefabricated Modular Wine Cabinets
What will your wine cellar look like?
If you’re looking to design your own wine cellar, use Vigilant’s DIY Design Tool! It’s super helpful to plan and visualize your build out.