Today we outline some cellar construction basics to consider prior to beginning your cellar project.

Please remember that each wine cellar is unique and some of these elements may or may not apply.
wood cellar
Custom wine cellar CAD drawing by Vinotemp

Room Construction

Locate your wine cellar in a room with no direct exposure to sunlight/heat, at least one external wall, and ventilation.

Wine cellars should be built using standard 2x4 or 2x6 construction methods and ceiling joists following the guidelines of local and state codes. As a general rule, thicker cellar walls provide a higher insulation factor and will help to ensure that your collection stays at a consistent temperature.

Insulation & Vapor Barrier

In order to create the vapor barrier, plastic sheeting (6 mil.) is applied to the HOT side of the cellar walls. Ideally, the vapor barrier should be applied to the outside walls and ceiling; however, if it is impossible to get to the outside, then the plastic must be applied from within the cellar.

The most common method is to wrap the entire interior, leaving the plastic loose in the stud cavity so that insulation can be placed in between each stud. All walls, ceiling and floors must be wrapped in plastic for the vapor barrier to be complete and efficient.

If you are planning to use a climate control cooling unit in your cellar, insulating the walls is a requirement.

We recommend that a minimum of R13 insulation should be applied to the walls, and insulation rated 19-30 should be used on the ceiling of a cellar. Standard fiberglass or rigid foam insulation is normally used in cellar construction. Again, it is very important that all walls and ceilings be properly insulated in order to keep cellar temperature as consistent as possible throughout the year.

NOTE: Vapor barrier is REQUIRED when a climate control cooling unit is installed.

Wine Cellar Wall & Ceiling Covering

The interior wall and ceiling covering are determined by the décor theme of the cellar. Often times dry wall is applied and painted (using latex paint) to match a specific cellar theme.

Cedar and redwood tongue and groove paneling are also a popular choice for wall covering materials (consult with a Vinotemp representative). Typically, this paneling would be made out of the same type of wood as the cellar racking material to create a more uniform look. Stone and/or granite are also viable options for cellar wall coverings.

Wine Cellar Doors

If a cooling system is installed, an exterior grade door (1-¾ inches thick) must be installed as the cellar door. It is important that the door have a very good seal to keep the cool air from escaping out of the cellar. Weather stripping must be attached to all four sides of the door jamb, and a bottom “sweep” or threshold is also recommended.

 

Please remember that each wine cellar is unique and some of these elements may or may not apply.
decorative cellar door
Residential Wine Room

 

Solid core doors or doors with a full glass insert are most often used as wine cellar doors. If you are planning on using a glass door, make sure that it includes at least double pane tempered glass to ensure no loss of cool air. Vinotemp offers solid wood doors in standard and “old world” antique styles as well as etched glass insert doors for those who want to give their cellar entrance a special look.

Wine Cellar Flooring

There is a wide variety of flooring that can be used in cellars. Slate, tile, marble and vinyl are all more commonly used, while popular Vinotemp options include our cork and reclaimed wine barrel surfacing. Carpet should NEVER be used as it will retain moisture and cause mold and mildew in the cool and damp conditions of a cellar. As with the case of wall coverings, flooring is typically chosen to match the overall décor of the cellar. The flooring should be applied to a level surface, free of base trim or moldings that can potentially interfere with the racking.

Wine Cellar Lighting

The lighting of a wine cellar is an important part of the overall décor. “Air Lock” recessed can lights are the most popular and are often used as the main source of light within a cellar. Modern LED lighting has become more commonly used as it emits minimum heat and is also energy efficient. Display lights are also commonly used to accent different parts of the cellar such as picture opening, table areas, or large format display bottles. Vinotemp offers display “rope” lighting that is specially designed and built to fit into the display angle of individual bottle racking.

Lights cause heat, and when left on for an extensive period of time will cause the cooling equipment to over work itself. No matter the type used, cellar lighting should be set to a dimmer in order to control brightness. It is also recommended that all lighting be installed on a time system to prevent them from being left on for long periods of time.

We discuss lighting in more detail.

Wine Cellar Climate Control

If you would prefer to keep your collection cool without the use of cooling equipment, passive cellars are a viable option. These cellars are built below ground level where the natural ground temperature is consistent at about 55 degrees. This will protect your wine for long term storage with no cooling equipment required.

If a climate-controlled cellar is required, Vinotemp can provide cooling equipment to keep the cellar at a temperature of about 55-60 degrees and humidity of 50-70%. For cellars less than 2000 cubic feet in size, either a “split” system or “though-the-wall” system can be used.

 

cellar with ducted system
Custom wine room with 8500DS cooling system

 

For larger cellar, Vinotemp provides commercial refrigeration equipment that must be installed by a certified refrigeration expert. Consult with a Vinotemp sale representative to choose the correct size cooling unit, and to get installation and power supply instructions.

Wine Cellar Racking

Standard materials for traditional wood wine racking include all heart redwood or clear, grade A western red cedar both of which are very resistant to rot in the cool environment of a cellar. Other woods are available on a special-order basis. Additional racking materials include acrylic, glass, or metal.

The Vinotemp design department offers 2D and 3D CAD layouts to customize the racking system to match your exact storage needs. Consult with Vinotemp sales representative for design ideas and features for your custom cellar.

 

zero-g racks
Custom wine cellar with Zero-G Wine Racking

Wine Cellar Racking