Prime Conditions Needed for Proper Wine Storage

Preserving a wonderful wine collection requires knowledge of how to store wine, as well as specific conditions needed to properly maintain your cellar. You can’t just stand a bottle upright in a basement or cabinet and expect it to maintain its rich, complex flavors and aromas. In fact, that’s a recipe for rancidity.

At Innovative Wine Cellar Designs, we are a team of leading designers and builders of both commercial and residential wine cellars. But we are also more than that—we are deeply passionate about wine and dedicated to creating the quality storage environments that it requires.

When it comes to prime wine cellar conditions, there are several factors with which any wine enthusiast or budding collector should be familiar.

Frequent fluctuations in temperatures place stress on wine, causing the liquid to expand and contract. These movements create pressure inside a bottle against the cork and are known to cause premature leakage and/or spoilage. To prevent these scenarios, the ideal temperature to store wine is between 55°F to 57° F, or 12° to 14° C.

Humidity is another incredibly important factor that requires strict control in a well-built wine cellar. The ideal environment maintains 60 percent relative humidity. This allows any wine to slowly mature, reduces the growth of mold, keeps corks from drying out, and preserves the labels, which is essential for maintaining the bottle’s beautiful aesthetic.

When building a wine cellar, it’s important to identify your most important reasons for wanting one. Are you creating a space where you can entertain, while also safely storing your collection? Do you want to display your wine, or is it something that you’d like to hide from view? Knowing what type of wine cellar you desire is critical in the design and planning phase in order to ensure that all factors are covered for longevity and satisfaction.

Critical Construction Components
In a wine cellar, construction components that greatly impact both temperature and humidity include insulation, moisture barriers, and airtight seal ability.

For insulation, best practices prescribe a minimum of R12 or R19 insulation levels. If a wall will be an exterior wall, then this level bumps up to R30.

Concrete walls provide challenges in both residential or commercial wine cellars as concrete is porous in nature and will require additional insulation. At Innovative Wine Cellar Designs, we overcome barriers like these by including poly coating and rigid foam insulation to ensure adequate insulation.

We further consider how to compensate for sections of glass, including windows, doors, and walls, to adjust the thermal calculations necessary to cool your wine cellar.

Moisture Barrier
Creating a moisture or vapor barrier in construction is crucial to ensuring the appropriate insulation of a cellar environment. Most often, a vapor barrier is 6 mil polyethylene, otherwise referred to as Visqueen.

Airtight Seal Ability
Wine cellar doors must seal completely, allowing zero airflow to enter or exit the space. This often involves weatherstripping and well-executed door-sweeps to ensure that any entry or exit point can shut completely.

Cooling Systems
The right cooling system for your space can make or break the efficacy of your wine cellar. Through our years of experience, we’ve noticed that there is a strong relationship between the expense and performance of any cooling system. When it comes to options for cellar cooling units, there are a few that stand out:

  1. Through-the-wall
    Easily the most cost-effective option, most through-the-wall cooling systems come in a self-enclosed case. The main downside to these types of units is that they can be noisy, and they take up footprint space within your cellar. Depending on installation logistics, they require proper ventilation, which often means a hole in the wall.
  2. Split cooling
    Just as its name implies, a split cooling system houses components both within and external to a cellar environment. As a split system, the condensing unit can be placed wherever you desire to reduce compressor noise. Additionally, they don’t require an unsightly hole in the wall. On the negative side, they do cost more and require installation by a professional.
  3. Ducted cooling

The top-tier option is a ducted cooling system. In this scenario, the cooling unit can be located wherever works best for a property, and then the cold air is ducted into the wine cellar. As the most expensive option of the bunch, ducted cooling systems offer advantages like the capability of being serviced by an HVAC professional, in addition to maximizing room for wine storage because the cooling unit doesn’t cut into precious cellar space.

Other Accessories
In our business, we love customizations because each property is unique and so are the reasons for the wine cellar. People have different styles and fall in love with wine for a variety of reasons. At Innovative Wine Cellar Designs, we create aesthetic masterpieces assembled by passionate craftsmen and artisans.

Wine Racks
Another important feature of your cellar are the wine racks. Many individuals choose between metal wracks or wooden wine racks. Since 2001, our team has gone above and beyond creating custom wine storage with a lifetime guarantee.

We offer a range of custom-designed wooden wine racks, including those created from reclaimed wine barrel wood, diamond bins, cubes with face trim, curved corner high-reveal units, angled corners and basically anything else you could desire. Reclaimed wine barrels are among our favorite options, as they offer a way to showcase the rich history of winemaking.

By design, wine cellars should be cool, dark places. For lighting, our rule of thumb is that it should be done expertly where the lighting is not a feature, but rather a function that gives the cellar the illumination it needs to showcase its collection.

Lights need to be low intensity and must generate only a small amount of heat to ensure that they don’t intrude on ambiance and/or damage any of the collection. Daylight is by far the worst type of lighting for a wine cellar, as full ray sunlight can spoil wine. Fluorescent light tubes, a popular idea in commercial settings, put out ultraviolet light waves which can also harm wine. Furthermore, incandescent and halogen bulbs heat up a space the same as tungsten pot lights.

So, what is the right type of lighting for a wine cellar?

Our two favorite options include wall sconces that use low voltage LEDs with directional beams as they are very energy efficient, generate little heat, require zero to small amounts of maintenance, are affordable, and have long bulb lifespans. The second option is light emitting diodes (LEDs). These lights do not emit any UV rays and project a minimal amount of heat. Additionally, they provide great illumination.

For further lighting enhancements, we are also big fans of using runway lights to backlight or accent wine racks, shelves, and bottles. These secondary light sources can add visual intrigue without diminishing the integrity of wine or detracting from the cellar’s architectural features.

There are many flooring options that can contribute to the ambiance of a cellar and enhance the overall décor. Note that carpet is hardly ever used in these special spaces, mostly because it could interfere with the cool, damp conditions required to prevent wine from aging improperly.

The floor should also be level to eliminate the lean of wine racks and any subsequent bottles that they are holding. Flooring choices should also be able to handle a massive amount of weight. For example, approximately 500 bottles of wine can weigh around 2,000 pounds.

Why Choose Innovative Wine Cellar Designs

We know we’ve covered a lot of topics above and we can’t wait to hear from you. With a rich portfolio of custom wine cellar designs that range from a traditional, Old-World style to innovative, contemporary vibes, our team can build the wine cellar of your dreams. We will work with you from concept to completion, ensuring the highest quality craftsmanship at every step of the way.

Take a look at our virtual showroom for inspiration, visit one of our physical locations in Las Vegas, Scottsdale, or San Diego, or call us today at 866-838-9464 to get started designing the wine cellar of your dreams.

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Innovative Wine Cellar Designs

Scottsdale: 480.538.1288
Toll Free: 866.838.9464

Showroom Locations

Scottsdale, AZ
8340 E. Raintree, Suite B9
Scottsdale, AZ

Las Vegas, NV
4730 S. Wynn Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89103


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