Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

How to store wine, or anyway my version

Posted by Richard Foxall, Mar 7, 2016.

I've mentioned elsewhere my aversion to flashy wine storage areas. I've mentioned the extensive renovations we've recently undergone that will enable us to survive three more years of having two teen girls, while making our abode a welcoming stopover for people as tall as GregT and as numerous as JD and his family.  (We draw the line at families with one child...unless they like tents and visit in the summer.)  We've been living in the house, albeit with only rough stairs and, until a few days ago, a poorly operating thermostat.  Great heater, but until they hooked up the upstairs HVAC, we were only as good as our weakest link, the temporary, hanging-from-the-wall outdated and erratic technology that told selfsame heater to operate. 

So we have doorknobs pretty much everywhere now, carpets where there isn't still dust being made, and enough furniture to sit and watch The Good Wife.  Time to get serious about moving in the wine. 

I ended my lease on the locker and moved things into the corner of the basement last week.  This week we started "proof of concept," trying to see if the Ivar system from Ikea was up to the task.

So here's some pictures to give you an idea of how it's working:

That's the second iteration, as the Silicon Valley folks say these days.  (Version 2.0, or maybe 1.1 to you older engineers, Emark and RBA.)  Yesterday we had two shelves down low and just two racks.  Today I added the metal brace to stiffen it, and it actually works really well.  A lot of wine racks don't work well with big diameter bottles, but the weakness with this system is going to be long bottles with a high shoulder.  As long as nothing gets shaken up too much, shouldn't be a big problem.  After testing it out a little bit, looks like I can get 15 eight bottle racks in each bay, and I can get three bays in the space I've allotted.  It's all designed around this system if it works, with room for an in-swing door and about 68" of depth, 52-54" wide, two bays on the left, one on the right.  So that's 360 bottles, no problem, and room for odd lots, magnums, and the like on the shelves below.  I scored a few wooden cases from JJBuckley's dumpster (as a customer, I'm allowed to scavenge once they inventory the stuff), so that adds some cheap storage. 

Pricing it works out like this:  45 eight bottle racks at $8 is $360, 5 side rails at $15 each adds $75, 6 shelves (one bottom, one top in each bay for stiffness) adds $36, and three of the braces tacks on another $15.  Total cost of racking is $486, or about $1.35 a bottle.  And that doesn't count the bottles on the shelves, which should amount to about 3 more cases, perhaps more, lowering the per bottle to less than $1.25.  I'll probably use a Cellar Pro 1800 or similar for cooling, which runs about $1000.  Framing, insulation, drywall and a door will be another chunk, but I'm piggybacking on that shear wall in the background and a beam that runs down the center of the basement, so that saves a bit of timber.  I'm estimating another $1200 or so for that.  My hope is to keep the whole project under $3000.  The door will be a cheap metal exterior door; my artist daughter will create a mural on the outside to hide the likely ugliness of the door, but the real purpose here is temp control and security.  We won't be drinking in there unless you really want to get close, in which case the temperature control will be taxed by the warm bodies. 

I'll update as we go along, but probably won't be able to return to the project for a couple months.  Until then, the cellar is a very even and cool temperature, so I'm not at all worried about the condition of the wine in the meantime.

Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 7, 2016.

Keep the updates coming, Fox. What's on the other side of that wall? And is the cellar completely below ground?

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Reply by outthere, Mar 7, 2016.

So here's some pictures to give you an idea of how it's working:

Picture(s)? Looks interesting. Are you building in some kind of earthquake protection? That was the first thing that came to mind. Happy to hear the end is near. My house was in a constant state of construction for almost 5 years. It gets old real fast. Bet all the girls are excited. Is there room for more than 360 or is that just how much Ikea racking you purchases?

PS: The Good Wife is getting interesting this season (the last of the series).

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 7, 2016.

I could hear The Good Wife in the other room as I posted.  I can't really watch episodic television.  I get too restless. But I know it has a following on here.

I was going to post multiple pictures, but none of the others came out well, posting them was turning into a chore (gotta clean up my phone's camera roll) and I lazily did not go back and edit that part. There will be more to come.  I am going to use a camera, instead of my phone, and a tripod.  The light down there is still a bit iffy and I don't really want to set up for a major photoshoot.  It's also very cramped with all the wine stacked in the corner. 

Earthquake protection:  While I was banging that together, the contractor showed up to get some of his tools; he asked the same question.  The racks come with some tip preventers, but if you look in the wooden case on the left, there are black zip ties, rescued from streetposts where temporary signs were removed and the ties left behind.  (I was bored waiting for a bus and had a small screwdriver.  And I'm cheap.)  I'll run those through small eyesbolts, but I also will use small angle braces.  Believe me, it's a priority.  I am a little worried that the racks aren't slip-proof with longer bottles with high shoulders, so I may use these racks for only one side (two bays) if that worries me too much.  I can also put a little rubber tubing on the front support if needed to increase friction.

To protect against drops and slipping, I will use a vinyl flooring, either diamond deck or something similar, but since it's a small space, I'll just scavenge a piece from the flooring guys who did my kitchen and sold me my bathroom vinyl.  Since it won't be visible, why spend any money I don't need to?

Behind the wall in the picture above?  That's the big shear wall on the south side of the nested stairs.  It goes all the way to the top of the house.  It's insanely built.  We'll get in 6" of insulation on this side; the other side is dead air, not heated or otherwise conditions, with no heat-producing activities going on.  Cold air from the house will, if anything, sink down the stairwell, but the layer of cool air from the basement won't allow much movement in general.  Next probable stop is to put the vapor barrier in those cavities, then the insulation. 

The house had a 40" (approx) crawl space, as some visitors know.  There was one excavated area that I have posted pictures of in the past; that still houses the water heater but with improved drainage.  The furnace is in the old crawl space, mounted horizontally, and vents away from the full depth basement.  The ducting was designed to preserve head space and they did a beautiful job.  However, just to the right of the rack as positioned above, there's one duct, flexible insulated, that runs to a bedroom.  It was unavoidable.  But it's tucked to one side and the outer wall of the cellar will stop just short of it.  So it will be fine.  As work progresses, you'll see how I worked out that area to be useful.  Long way of saying that the whole of the basement is not underground, just about 56 inches of it. Which is why I can have a pass-through from the outside, which is a lot easier than carrying bottles up the front steps and down the basement steps.  A short ladder and a platform and lumber and cases of wine are in the basement.  The wall to the right is the east side of the house, which gets virtually no sun because we are built very close to the neighbor.  That's why we had delays and needed a variance.  So it will stay cool.  We get a bit more sun from the west but it won't reach over that far.  My experience even in the old crawl space on the south side of the house was that the area under the house stayed relatively cool all the time.  This is a huge upgrade before we even put in a cooling unit.

There's room as currently imagined for 360 bottles on the racks. Easily several more cases on the shelves, and I can reuse a couple things on hand to add maybe 48 more bottles of storage.  If I had to guess, it'll max out, without stacking boxes on the floor, at 420. 

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 7, 2016.

Good to hear progress is being made Fox. I mentioned to my wife that I'd like to do a road trip up north some time this Spring. Not sure if its' going to happen, but a decent chance, April-May at that.

Around 400 bottles of storage in your own home is a decent size. A bit more than my 16 bottle wine fridge!

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 7, 2016.

"To protect against drops and slipping, I will use a vinyl flooring, either diamond deck or something similar, but since it's a small space, I'll just scavenge a piece from the flooring guys who did my kitchen and sold me my bathroom vinyl.  Since it won't be visible, why spend any money I don't need to?"

I've always leaned towards porous brick, well laid and mortared. Won't bounce any bottles safely, but causes no slips, and absorbs spills. Helps keep the humidity right, and the atmosphere smelling yeasty like a proper cellar! Usually end up seasoning the floor with some purposeful spills to start with. Plus I generally dislike vinyl flooring...  ;-(

 

 

"Around 400 bottles of storage in your own home is a decent size. A bit more than my 16 bottle wine fridge!"

???????

 

 

"I could hear The Good Wife in the other room as I posted.  I can't really watch episodic television.  I get too restless. But I know it has a following on here."

The show does as well as any I can think of to keep it going after that many seasons, however more weak episodes now than in the past. About time to bring it to a close. It started during a good few years for cable TV. Plenty else going on then, but last couple of years have been increasingly lean. Now I have to look to Billions and Black Sails for my familiar vignettes and interesting dilemmas. Hmmm, rooting for buccaneers in both...

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 7, 2016.

D, with all the stuff you do, where do you find the time for TV?

Can't put down brick, already have a Xypex treated concrete floor that's been put down level (it'll never drain if it gets wet!) because we are counting on the amazing draining/thickness/treatment combo to protect against all enemies.  My only goals are saving the odd mishandled bottle and preventing slip.  There are some really cool flooring options, mostly designed for retail establishments, that we looked at when we did the kitchen 14 years ago.  But this is really all about keeping the cost as low as possible.

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 7, 2016.

I live in a relatively small condo Dave, I have a liquor cupboard with a couple cases of my lesser wines sitting passively. Maybe I should take the whole thing out and put in a small active cellar...it's about 8 feet high and two feet wide.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 7, 2016.

D, with all the stuff you do, where do you find the time for TV?

It's one way I keep in touch, linguistically, culturally and otherwise, while offshore all this while. Have also had some involvement in cinema, so it's in my wheelhouse, sort of. Finally, it's an easy way to drift off to sleep...  ;-)


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