Wine cellar construction tips for home collections
Wine Cellar Construction ,Heat is enemy number one for wine, and temperatures higher than 70° F will age a wine more quickly than is preferable. With a record high of 113° F, and an average daily high of 77° F, the greater Dallas, TX area is an ideal one for installing a wine cellar in your home. Proper wine cellar construction is crucial for your collection.
WHERE TO PUT A WINE CELLAR
The ideal temperature for wine storage is 55-57° F, and 55-75% humidity. The closer you can get to optimal temperature without too much artificial cooling, the better. Typically, a wine cellar is best built in a basement, as it’s cooler. If your home lacks a basement, it’s still possible to construct one above ground, but you’ll need a larger-size cooling unit. A dry environment also requires more frequent introduction of humidity. In general, a wine cellar should be located where there’s adequate ventilation, no direct sunlight or heat, and at least one external wall.
If you’ve dreamed of building a wine cellar in your greater Dallas, TX area home, here’s what you need to know to bring your vision to fruition.
CRUCIAL ROLE OF THE VAPOR BARRIER
Frequent or sudden fluctuations in wine cellar temperature and humidity are detrimental to the aging process of wine: the resulting excessive oxidation makes wine turn bitter before it can achieve its peak taste. That’s why it’s important to ensure your wine cellar keeps the ambient temperature inside lower than the area outside it. A vapor barrier separates the two environments. On interior walls, a vapor barrier is created by wrapping polyethylene around the studs and applying it to the surface behind the insulation.
INSULATION DURING WINE CELLAR CONSTRUCTION
Think of your wine cellar as a room-sized refrigerator. Proper insulation is key to controlling the temperature and protecting your walls and ceiling, as well as your wine. Thick insulation – a minimum R-22 rating – is best for interior and exterior walls. A minimum rating of R-32 is best for the ceiling. If the walls are concrete, blown-in insulation is recommended, and if the floor might have an impact on the room’s temperature, insulation there should also be considered.
CELLAR WALL AND CEILING COVERING
The wine cellar’s interior wall and ceiling is determined by the overall theme of your cellar. Regular drywall is typically adequate, but if you have humidity concerns, consider moisture-resistant drywall instead. Always use a low VOC latex-based paint to prime and paint the walls and ceiling. If you prefer the look of redwood tongue and groove material, be sure to use rot-resistant wood. Never use cedar, as its strong aroma will taint the wine. Some people also use granite or other stone as a wall covering.
All types of flooring are used in wine cellars, with the most common being tile, slate, hardwood, marble, and concrete. Never use carpet, as it will mold in the cool, damp conditions. Choose flooring that matches your overall theme and make sure it’s applied to a level surface.
For proper temperature and humidity control, wine cellars need to be a sealed environment. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a continually running cooling unit, which shortens its life and increases your energy costs. Use an exterior grade door with weather stripping on all four sides. Some environmentally minded homeowners choose reclaimed wine barrel doors.
CHOOSING AND PLACEMENT OF COOLING UNIT
How large a cooling unit you’ll need depends on your wine cellar construction, cellar size, the ambient climate, construction plans, and more. Ideally, it should be mounted on an interior wall. A wood frame is typically constructed to hold the unit, which on average weighs between 50 and 120 pounds. At Joseph & Berry, we’ll help you find the cooling unit that’s right for your cellar.
Ventilation keeps your cellar at the optimum temperature. The cooling unit blows cool air into the cellar, which then pushes warm air to the ceiling. That warm air must be moved to a properly-sized exhaust room, or the wine cellar temperature will get too hot. The ideal exhaust room has a fresh air intake that regulates temperature and provides continuous air flow.
Racking varies widely, but common woods include redwood and mahogany, as well as reclaimed wine barrels. All are resistant to rot in a cool, damp environment. Some people prefer wire lattice, modular storage, or fully customized wine racks. It all depends on your budget and the overall look you want your cellar to have.
The goal with any wine cellar lighting is minimal heat output and 0% UV rays. A recessed ceiling can lights are popular wine cellar choices, and they should be put on dimmers to control brightness. Timers and motion detectors can also help avoid having the lights left on, which can heat up the cellar over time. LED rope lighting is an attractive choice for highlighting racks.
At Joseph and Berry, we work with homeowners through every step of the wine cellar construction processfrom planning and budgeting through the design and execution of your project. Let us help you create your custom wine cellar! Contact us to schedule an appointment for a design consultation!
Celler wall image by akariganphotos courtesy of Flickr