In this „how-to” on wine cellar construction, I’d like to shed some light on what many find to be quite devastatingly destructive pitfalls in the end results, and indeed, even during the construction of, their wine cellars. To make wine cellar structures, things need not be quite so complicated, but it is in the simplicity of these small few things that cause them to be quite easily overlooked, and the consequences can be quite costly to your home, your wine cellar, your wine, and indeed, even your health and that of others. When you understand how to make wine cellar structures properly, you can avoid all of this. Allow me to explain…
The first how-to in wine cellar design that should be focused upon here, is dampness – the moisture that results in cooling things which are not yet cool, that contains liquids, and the dampness from condensation which naturally occurs in a cellar. Whether you use passive refrigeration (the general coldness of a cellar), or active refrigeration (using electrical refrigeration elements), this needs to be addressed. Using water resistant sheet rock („green board”) and plastic sheeting for a vapor barrier is a must. The floor, walls and ceiling, as well as the structure of the wine racks themselves must be protected against irreparable damage.
The second how-to for wine cellar building is on the woods you use in its construction. Firm and solid woods like oaks and maples are nice, but moisture damage resistant woods such as teak or purpleheart are best, due to their high silica content. However, also due to this very same thing, it can be frustrating to work with these woods as the silica eats through blades rather quickly. Redwood seems to be a very common happy medium. Whichever woods you choose from, never use aromatic woods such as cedars – the aroma of these will indeed taint your wines, no matter how tightly corked.
The third how-to to consider in wine cellar design is the flooring. You must never lay carpeting or rugs of any kind because these attract and retain moisture quite considerably, and this then becomes a fertile breeding ground for mold. This in turn can eat into the wood, and ultimately kill the wine – all of it. This can represent quite a ruination of such a delicate long term investment. Consider also that many people are deadly allergic to such molds, and most are so to a somewhat less deadly degree. It can prove to be quite a health hazard indeed.
The fourth how-to in wine cellar design is, well, in its very design. Especially if you not only buy wines to age, but if you also (or primarily) make your own wines. Very young wines (or those newly made), should stand upright for a time and then after be laid upon their side for proper aging. This has much to do with how any sediment within the wine affects the wine as a whole while aging. Create enough counter top and/or shelf space to allow for this, and build wine cellar structures to allow for easy rotation of wines as aging progresses.
The fifth and final how-to wine cellar point to make here is insulation of the door (or floor hatch) of the entry into the wine cellar. Ideally, you should be able to feel the coldness of the cellar on the inner surface of the door while also being able to feel the warmth of the outer room on the opposing surface of the door without any interference between each other. A simple wooden door is not enough. Some simplify the solution to this by having two doors with the space of a person standing between them apart, and some opt to purchase a specially insulated door constructed for just such a purpose. However you choose to attack this problem, this is again another easily overlooked aspect. See to it that it is not overlooked.
If you’d like to learn more, there is a similar article on my website, also with access to deeper information and plans for building a wine cellar. Also on my site, you’ll find information on wine making, wine tasting, free wine recipes and much more… I do hope you’ll visit and find your stay an enjoyable one. I cordially invite you to hop on by to the wine cellar for an informative read.
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