Wine Talk

Snooth User: A Oak A

Lets see your AWESOME wine cellar!!

Posted by A Oak A, Jan 28, 2015.

I spearheaded this incredible custom design last month. The ambient temperature in my region is approximately 55 degrees throughout the day; ideal for harnessing the explosive potential lurking within this vast selection. The tight seal on this cellar door makes for the perfect, dank environment. 

I have plans to expand later this year.


Okay, enough silliness. Show me a cellar worth being proud of (Or any collection of wine. Lets just have some fun!)

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Reply by GregT, Jan 28, 2015.

There's a thread on this somewhere. May want to do a search.

Reply by A Oak A, Jan 28, 2015.

There's threads with random pics of cellars but not an actual cellar pic thread.

Reply by Really Big Al, Jan 28, 2015.

I'll join in on the fun.  It's no fun searching for something old anyhow.  We have over 400 bottles in our basement storage cellar.  The temps are good in the winter of course (we live in Northern Virginia) but it does get up to 70 F in the summer.  So far our wine appears to be fine.  We have a small wine refrigerator that I received on my 25-year work anniversary.  I ended up putting in 31 years prior to retirement at age 55.

Reply by dmcker, Jan 28, 2015.

70degrees is getting too high for longterm storage, Al. But otherwise looks like you have room to grow!

Reply by dvogler, Jan 28, 2015.

Gee Al, I'm with DM.  70 is a sin for that stuff.  You should consider a small air conditioner for temps over 60.  You'd have to insulate the joist spaces though so as not to cause problems upstairs (and the heat ducts).   But, it's not like you have stuff that needs twenty years right?

Reply by A Oak A, Jan 29, 2015.

Love the home-made look to your racks RBA! Very unique. It appears that the racks are built into the frame, but closer inspection looks like they can be moved about.. Great functionality. I aspire to have an amazing collection of wine like yours someday. I have about 100 bottles in a locker back home. Wish I had a way to store them in my place.

Reply by JonDerry, Jan 29, 2015.

On the upside Al, you seem to have plenty of space and I like the racking. Just need something to keep it a little cooler over the Summer...even 5 degrees cooler would be great.

Reply by RandyFisher, Jan 29, 2015.

Nice RBA. Something you built yourself?

Reply by Really Big Al, Jan 29, 2015.

Thanks for the suggestions and compliments.  The shelving units were bought at IKEA, and they are about $30 to $40 each.  On each shelf I have the small wine racks that also come from IKEA ($10 each).  That would make it about $100 per shelving unit, except that I squeezed in an extra column here and there.  The metal racks came from World Market and they were about $90 each.  I of course assembled all this stuff, and those little wine racks can wear out your hands after assembling just two of them.  The big shelving units assemble with bolts that you can use a ratchet on, plus a cross brace that just screws on.

As for temperature control, this storage room also has our water heater and furnace.  They are located to the right, as you enter the room from the finished portion of the basement.  There is a guest room also in the basement that would make a pretty nice wine cellar, but to do it right we would need to insulate the walls and probably get some nice refrigerated racks / humidity control, and of course lots of money ($10K) would be needed.  We put $23K into a bathroom upgrade in 2014, so the money wasn't available for the wine cellar project last year.  This year?  I don't know.  We've already spent $5K on a new rain gutter system, replacing the original rain gutters that lasted about 25 years.  

The future upgrade of our wine cellar is still up in the air.

Reply by dvogler, Jan 29, 2015.

Al, just drink the wine!

You need to isolate the furnace and water heater from the wine.  You could frame in a mechanical room and ensure there's adequate combustion air.  Insulate the joist spaces and heating runs anyway.  I think you could probably keep the wine area below 70 if you do that.  A decent carpenter  could frame and drywall the furnace and hang a door for $2000, material included.

Reply by outthere, Jan 29, 2015.

A decent carpenter could DIY and save a load of cash! ;)

Reply by GregT, Jan 29, 2015.

What those two above said. Not that hard to frame in the heater and furnace. Use metal studs and zip screws and you can do it in an afternoon. I built my wine cellar and made a custom door and the materials cost me around $1000 including insulation, wonderboard, paint, light and shelves which I made ripping some plywood. Your shelves are much nicer and you've already paid for them so that's in your favor. Cooling unit was a small AC which is essentially a disposable item at $99. You can also pay a LOT more for a "wine cooling unit" but it's basically just an AC anyway,

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 29, 2015.

Okay, GregT, I'm going to go cheap and get the AC instead of a cooling unit when I do mine.  In all other respects, I am going to make mine pretty nice if/when we get the permits for the addition.  I kind of like RBA's set up with the Ikea racks, but it's not very space efficient.

As to the 70 in summer issue, if it doesn't stay there and the wines have been 55-ish most of the year, It's not staying at 70 (although the East Coast doesn't cool off at night like Cali does.) I wonder how much real damage there is.  Keep in mind that the bottle provides some insulation as well, slowing the fluctuations.  Maybe he should just hang moving blankets in front of the racks starting in May or something.  I also think the furnace and water heater aren't as big a deal as all that.  My water heater is so insulated that the outside is cool to the touch.  And the furnace isn't operating at all in the summer, and only slightly moderating the otherwise fuh-reezing temps he would have in his basement in the winter.  It's not making it warm down there. 

My pal put in a cooling unit in his semi-submerged basement (Some is above grade because of slope and design of the house); once it hit the desired temperature, it stayed there pretty much indefinitely.  Temps underground just don't move that fast, so RBA could be all right.  And, as pointed out, he isn't aging stuff for twenty years. 

Sadly, this thread is premature for me, but if I get the permits, expect to see every thread about cellars bumped with pix. Second priority to getting a loft bed built for my youngest.  Or maybe that can wait.

Reply by Really Big Al, Jan 30, 2015.

A decent carpenter could DIY and save a load of cash! ;)

I am not a carpenter at all.  I did build a few pieces of furniture, like a stereo cabinet, with my dads help back in the 1970's.  I still have it but I don't use it.  I helped him build things with his table saw but I didn't want that dangerous thing once he passed away.  I didn't even want the circular saw.  I kept all the hand tools though, along with his workbench which I use mostly for building computers on.  I'm good with my hands but not so much with wood working.  The best thing I made out of wood was a long board (skateboard) back in the 1970's that I used for riding the hills in Palos Verdes, CA.  We lived in Torrance back then and my friends and I would drive over to those hills for wonderful rides on the skateboards.

So, regarding blocking off the water heater and furnace, I really don't want to do that.  My concern is mostly proper ventilation, ease of access, and increased fire risk.  During the warm period (July and August), the burners in the furnace are not coming on, as it is cooling the air and dumping the heat outside in the compressor unit.  Sure the water heater is still working but it is a very good unit that is not warm to the touch.  It's natural gas burner does give off some heat though, and I haven't measured how much that is.  It does have a vent pipe where I hope most of the waste heat goes outside.

Our basement is a walk-out design, and most of those wine racks are under the garage or near the edge of the garage, with the back wall up against dirt.  The side walls in that storage room are probably 3/4th's covered by dirt near the corner wine rack, and then 1/8th covered at the opposite end of the room.  

If we go ahead with our guest room to wine room conversion, I would want to leave the IKEA shelving units in place for storage of other items, and that would mean a new wine bottle storage system.  If I'm going down that route, then better insulation in the guest room, along with new flooring and a sitting area would be needed.  The guest room has two walls that back to dirt, and two walls that back to the finished basement & storage room (right near the furnace and water heater).  Here is a picture of the guest room in the basement:


Reply by dvogler, Jan 30, 2015.

Al, everyone has different talents and skills.  It's perfectly fine to not possess carpentry skills, which do not necessarily define masculinity.  I'm sure you have a guest room upstairs too right?  So, this room would be ideal!  Ready made wine cellar.  I'd insulate the stud spaces on the outside of the drywall, where accessible to keep heat out.  Water heaters of course don't feel warm (they're insulated), but they emit heat, especially at the fittings and pipe, even if it's polyethylene.   If you have a 90+ % efficient furnace (condensing), the venting is PVC and there is little heat emitted in the flue.  ANYWAY...good idea with the guest room, it's a perfect solution.  I can sleep on the couch when I stay.

Reply by Really Big Al, Jan 30, 2015.

Remember that microwave oven you saw in my wine cellar pictures?  It's been broken for a few years now and I had the idea to turn that thing into a computer.  Well, this morning I spent about an hour disassembling the chassis and start thinking about what type of computer I might build inside the box.  The interesting device is the magnetron, which is really just a specialized vacuum tube that emits microwave energy.  Anyway, I might go ahead with this project if I can scrape up some money to get some decent computer parts, like a new CPU, motherboard, RAM and power supply.  These old parts shown at the end are pretty much EOL.

My web site has the history of Big Al Computers if you are interested. 

Reply by EMark, Jan 30, 2015.

Where in Torrance, Al?  Peggy's folks still live there.

Reply by vin0vin0, Jan 30, 2015.

Not a cellar but hopefully this summer we'll be turning this into a wine room. Thinking of buying a second wine fridge and having custom cabinets built around them against the back wall. Putting in hard woods or maybe even a cork or bamboo floor. Out with the current cabinets and desk/chair and in with a smallish tasting table and chairs. This is stll very much in the planning stages, any suggestions/tips/experiences would be appreciated.


Reply by A Oak A, Jan 30, 2015.

The wine cooler is a great alternative. Perfect temperature control all year long. Would love to have a house with a secret dungeon wine cellar though. 

Reply by Really Big Al, Jan 30, 2015.

EM - My parents lived on West 232nd Street in Torrance.  Sandra's parents also lived in Torrance in the 1960's, somewhere on Carson Street.  They moved to La Canada (near Pasadena) in the late 1960's and stayed there until they moved out here to join Sandra and myself in Virginia, sometime around 1993.

V V - My only concern would be the amount of light that could enter the room.  Would you be willing to keep it dark with the drapes drawn for most of the time?  How about other options to keep the light out of the glass front, like a reflective mylar or something?

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