Wine Talk

Snooth User: outthere

Cellar Malfunctions/Repairs

Posted by outthere, Apr 13, 2017.

Not since my first thermoelectric wine cooler have I had a storage malfunction, until this week. I remember a few years back when EMark shared the story of his wine fridge collapse where multiple bottles were lost to breakage. Fast forward 4 years or so and I have an "Oh shit!" moment to share.

I was looking for a bottle of wine to drink Monday night and went out to my, new to me, active cellar. As I pulled a bottle from its slot in the rack I felt some resistence from the bottle above resting on it. As I slid the bottle out the bottle above fell down and started a chain reaction of 150 or more bottles slipping off the racking and resting on the ones below. Like dominos, clink, clink, clink, clink! All I could think was the whole thing was going to come crashing down. I closed the door, composed myself and went back into the house to medicate.

I asked my wife if there had been an earthquake while I was away on the weekend and she shook her head no. I checked seismic activity online and that confirmed there was nothing of note close enough to us to be the culprit. I knew the bottles were all still in one piece so I left them be until I had time to figure out what went wrong.

Yesterday was the day. I was home early from work so I dove in. My racking is metal, 2 bottles deep with 4 individual racks spaced apart by wooden guides. Notches in the wood blocks separate the racks evenly front to rear. The bottles on the right hand side front racking had dropped in the rear half and had to be removed before I could investigate what went wrong. Removing the bottles was nerve wrenching. Moving one would cause another to shift. The last thing I wanted was for 600 bottles to fall to their untimely demise. It was a slow tedious process but I accomplished it without losing my mind. Once I had the rack cleared I noiced that the two center situated racks were sitting lower than their front and rear counterparts. So much so that they had slipped out of the wooden blocks that hold them in place. The weight of the bottles and vibration of opening and closing the doors combined with adding and removing bottles allowed the racks to slowly shift rearward. Once one bottle got to the point where it wasn't supported on one end it started the chain reaction and the entire rack shifted inward and the wines outward.

I found that the lowest wood guide that the racks rest on was broken. Probably occured with the prior owner but I hadn't noticed it. After some careful adjusting and lifting I was able to install some shims under the right side of the racking which I fashioned out of scrap redwood and raised the racks about 1/2" up and another 1" forward. Once it was all secured I was able to reload the wines and take a big deep breath of relief knowing this would not happen again.

It's another example if how we can  take some things for granted that they will just perform the way they were designed. I expect mechanical flaws to pop up from time to time but structural failures normally do not creep into my mind.

Have you had one of those moments when you thought your investment might come crashing to the concrete floor?



Reply by EMark, Apr 13, 2017.

I'm sorry, OT.  Your story starts with impending tragedy, but I have to admit after reading only the first two paragraphs, I was laughing like crazy.

Your descriptions of the problem and the fix were excellent.  Good job.

When I started reading, I thought, "Oh boy, he has a mess."  However, it sounds like you had no breakage.  Is that correct?

Yes, I had multiple fiascos (fiaschi?) with my garage storage.  Early in my Snooth experience I reported that I dropped a bottle (Yes, I am pretty clumsy.  There is no reason for anybody to remind me.) on the concrete garage floor.  Miraculously, the bottle bounced and did not break. (It's always better to be lucky than good.)  JonDerry made a very helpful suggestion:  place a carpet fragment in front of the wine cooler.  Well, duh.  So, I found a nice sized carpet fragment, and with duct tape affixed it to the floor.  It worked great.

Fast forward some months later when Mrs, EMark asks if there is a leak in the wine cooler.


A leak in the wine cooler?  That does not sound good.

Sure enough, the carpet (which was a light tan color) shows "blood stains" from "dead soldiers."  There is a picture somewhere on the Snooth Forum, but I really don't know where, and I can't find it on my disk.

I carefully opened the door and listened to glass clinkling as broken bottles settled,  Bottom line, I lost (as I recall) two bottles.  And I stained the labelsof many others. Pictures of those stained labels have often appeared in the various threads here on Snooth.

My problem was a result of the fact that my storage unit did not have racks for individual bottles.  Rather it had space where bottles could be laid side-by-side and, then on top of each other.  This strategy works fine as long as all the bottles are the same shape--preferably, cylindrical.  When you mix up bottles of different shapes, you are asking for trouble.  Then, of course, I had to exacerbate the problem by trying to cram as many bottles as possible into the nooks and crannies.

Oh, well.  Some people have real problems.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 13, 2017.

Bordeaux style bottles are a better alternative.  Screw caps better still--you store the wine standing up, none of this "keeping the cork wet" stuff.  Of course, if you took them out of their cardboard cases, you could have a dominos-falling effect, but you could just use regular garage shelves in your cellar then.  Or a regular fridge, more or less.  This wine business is fully of silly traditions. 

I am worried that the Ikea racking isn't the most sturdy, but we'll be addressing that when I get time to finish enclosing the cellar. 

As Mark says, some people have real problems.  We make this one for ourselves.  If anyone can fix it for himself, it's OT. 

Reply by rckr1951, Apr 13, 2017.

The only cellar malfunctions I've ever experienced were involved with me.  I destroyed, well not completely - it was repairable, a perfectly good rack by trying to move it when it was full, thusly separating the columns and 8 rows of win 3 wide collapsed onto each other.

Stupid is as....

Reply by dmcker, Apr 14, 2017.

Passive cellars with well built, well anchored racks. Then no worries, even with earthquakes up to the scale of they 2011 north of Tokyo. Spend enough time trying to figure out how to have access to/usage of such, and the mind can be at ease for decades. No more worrying about crawl space issues, closet issues, refrigeration unit technology issues, electricity grid issues, wire rack flimsiness, etc., etc.

Always will be tempted to cram more in than originally anticipated, and this does get to be a problem in wine fridges, particularly. Closets in wine cellars fill up, too...

Reply by Really Big Al, Apr 14, 2017.

I've got IKEA racking in our cellar and it's worked fine for us.  No big earthquakes out here (there was a 4.X one maybe 10 years ago) and I haven't had a bottle dropped yet.  When we get new wines, I stand them upright and Sandra then puts them in the appropriate wine rack.  She generally makes room for the new ones by moving some of the old ones to my metal racks, from which I select our wine(s) for dinner and such.

Sorry to hear about your close call OT.  Good idea to take a breather and think about it before jumping right in and possibly making it worse.

Below you see a recent picture of our wine cellar.  Many bottles are still standing as we've had several deliveries at the end of March / beginning of April.  In fact, we are driving out to two of our wine club wineries today (RdV and Stone Tower Winery) to pick up allotments.


Reply by vin0vin0, Apr 14, 2017.

OT, nothing like a near wine catastrophe to get the heart pumpin', glad to hear everyone survived!

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