A Guide on How to Start Your Home Wine Cellar

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

If you've developed an interest in collecting fine wine, you'll need a secure place to store your expanding collection. Although some collectors choose to store their wines offsite in wine storage facilities, it's perfectly understandable if you'd rather keep your collection closer to home. If that's the case, a home wine cellar might be ideal for you.

An Overview of the Home Wine Cellar

Bottles of wine lying on their sides on a shelf

Despite the name, a home wine cellar doesn't have to be located underground. Of course, if your home has a basement, you should consider renovating it to feature a wine cellar – it will get your plans off to a quicker start thanks to its naturally cooler, more stable temperature conditions.

Trying to store wine in an area of the home prone to temperature fluctuations won't do it any good. Even portable wine coolers have their risks, which is why a reliable wine cellar makes such a good investment. From offering short-term storage for wine you'll enjoy at social events to long-term storage for wines you want to age to perfection, a home wine cellar gives your fine wines the living conditions they need.

Establishing Your Wine Cellar: 4 Questions to Consider

Bottles of wine in cubbies on a shelf

You're likely excited to see your wine cellar full of exquisite fine wines. Whether you're skilled with completing renovation projects or you plan to hire a contractor to upgrade your home, you can't move forward with home wine cellar ideas until you answer a few key questions.

1. Where Will You Put the Wine Cellar?

Deciding where to put a wine cellar in your home might seem overwhelming at first, but it all comes down to several key points: it needs to be somewhere that's dark, cool and away from electronics and foot traffic.

Basements usually make the best locations for wine cellars because they already provide a darker environment that's less susceptible to temperature swings. In addition, people don't tend to pass through basements on their way to other parts of the home, which means less vibration and less chance of bottles being knocked around.

On the other hand, not everyone has a basement or wants to climb down stairs to get to their collection. Start by touring your home and jotting down areas that fit the three criteria listed above: dark, cool and quiet.

Avoid placing your wine cellar near windows or exterior doors, since they'll introduce too much temperature fluctuation. You should also check where sunlight enters your home throughout the day. If sunlight falls on the space you had in mind, keep searching.

Some possible locations include:

  • Under or behind the stairs
  • In a deep closet
  • In a library or study
  • Built into the dining room
  • In a former pantry or larder

If you don't have a suitable space, you could consider building a new addition to your home for the sole purpose of cellaring wine.

2. What Design Will Your Home Wine Cellar Have?

Path with stone archways

Design matters. Not only will it help you organize your collection, but it will also let you display the wines in an appealing manner. First decide on the look you're going for.

  • Do you want sleek lines with plenty of glass and metal?
  • Do you want a traditional design featuring dark wooden shelves?
  • Do you want a rustic cellar with bricks, stones and curved archways?
  • Or do you want something else altogether?

Once you've settled on a style, turn to the design plans to generate home wine room ideas. You could add display counters, rolling drawers and shelving with a mix of horizontal and diagonal cubbies. Also consider the flooring; stone, tile or brick will keep the room cooler and won't encourage mold growth like some types of wood flooring can. One option with wood flooring, however, is to use reclaimed cooperage barrel flooring. This flooring has been in humid conditions before and is therefore primed for use.

You also need to consider lighting, since the goal of a wine cellar is to keep your wines cool and away from sunlight. That means you shouldn't use incandescent or halogen bulbs because they'll give off heat and interfere with your wine's storage and aging conditions. Stick with LED lighting, and try to use it solely as an accent feature, with small floor lights or selective back lighting. You could also hang a chandelier, but make sure to use LED bulbs.

3. How Will You Furnish Your Wine Cellar?

After you've completed your home wine cellar design, you'll want to think about furnishings. You might even include a tasting room with a table and chairs, where you can show off your collection and spend time with guests.

While some people like the idea of placing the tasting room inside the cellar itself, the best place for the tasting room is just outside. You can install a double-pane insulated glass wall or even just an insulated glass door that reveals your collection but keeps it safe from temperature and humidity changes. Apart from a table and chair set, consider other furniture like ottomans, wingback chairs and a sideboard, and decor like artwork, folding screens and collectibles.

4. What Options Are Available for Wine Cellar Security?

Secure lock on a door

To keep your collection safe, you'll want to add some type of security system to the cellar. There are a variety of options available, from electronic keypads and fingerprint scanners to motion cameras and live video recording.

In addition to physical security, make sure you get your wines insured with a reputable insurance company like AIG or Chubb.

The Best Way to Store Your Wine

If you don't know the best way to store wine for the long term, make sure you review the crucial steps set out in our guide to red and wine storage temperatures. You want the cellar to be cool (around 55°F), fairly humid (around 70 percent humidity), and dark – sunlight is not your friend here. You'll also want to install a wine cellar cooling system – the three main types are through-the-wall, ducted or split system – to ensure the cellar environment remains constant.

Once your cellar is standing proud and tall, it's time to transfer over your fine wines or start a new collection. For more information, read our 10 Essential Tips on How to Start Your Wine Collection. We hope you get years of enjoyment from your new home wine cellar.