Wine Cellar Design Ideas
What are the best wine cellar design ideas and why do you need them?
Sooner or later, almost every wine lover I know starts stashing away a few bottles to age. Wine is one of the few things that truly gets better with age. The way it matures and develops inside the bottle is something to appreciate and enjoy. But wine needs some help to reach it’s full maturity. Stacking a few bottles in the house without the proper care can eventually lead to vinocide. A safe and nurturing environment for your wine is needed. And that’s exactly what a good wine cellar design is for. A great wine cellar is all about creating a controlled environment for your wine. Whether it’s in a mansion or a tiny apartment, wine room design options are virtually limitless. Because, if temperature and humidity are not controlled properly, your wine collection could go bad.
We’ve put together a guide to help you build a great wine room, including design ideas, tips and lots of pics.
What Does A Wine Cellar Do?
The first and main job of a wine cellar is protecting bottles from heat, light and vibration. All those things are damaging to your wine and can eventually make them go bad. It’s called vinocide. But protecting wine is what the room does, not necessarily what it is. A wine room can be much more than just a functional space to store and protect your wine. Many of the best double as galleries and tasting rooms where you can display and enjoy your wine.
It usually starts small. A couple of bottles stashed in a kitchen rack by the fridge, a case for your birthday, or an expensive bottle you bought for that special occasion. You taste with friends, have a glass each night with dinner, and find out what types and regions you like best. Before you know it, your overflowing with bottles with no where to stash the good stuff.
This pivot from interest to passion marks the time when you’ll need a wine cellar to protect your prized bottles.
Wine cellars are a temperature and humidity controlled space that’s regulated just right to preserve and protect your wine.
What Makes A Great Wine Cellar?
Think of a wine cellar as a room size refrigerator. A sealed environment with a constantly controlled temperature and humidity. Wine needs a consistent temperature and humidity and an absence of light to thrive and that’s what a wine room provides. The key is constant control. Ideally you want the wine cellar at the correct temperature and humidity but not too cold that you need a coat when your in it. That’s where good insulation comes into play, it maintains temperature and humidity as long as the room remains sealed.
Good wine cellar design ideas should start with function before moving on to the decor.
These things are especially important if your wine room is above ground. If it’s a cellar then it gets a bit easier as basements tend to regulate heat and humidity better that above ground rooms.
A dedicated cooling system, vapor barrier, seal and insulation
- Insulation is important because it helps keep the environment inside the room steady. Without good insulation the rooms temperature and humidity will fluctuate.
- The cooling system regulates temperature and humidity levels.
- A tight seal. Without it the environment inside will fluctuate.
- The vapor barrier. It’s important for maintaining humidity levels.
Lighting and shelving
- The right lighting is important. Certain types of light damages red wine which is why it comes in a dark bottle.
- Strong shelving is essential. The last thing you want is a shelf break causing your wine collection to crash to the floor.
Decor and finish
- The best wine cellars are more than just a functional space. They’re beautifully finished room where you can display your collection and taste wine.
It can be complicated but building a great wine room is still something you can do yourself. Luckily, if you don’t want to go the DIY route there are businesses that can do it for you. We include wine rooms in our new homes and renovations all the time. Most good builders should be able to help you.
All great wine cellar design ideas start with the fundamental requirements every room needs and then design from there.
Insulation Requirements Inside A Wine Room
We recommend R19 insulation if possible for all inside walls and R30 insulation on outside ones. Since most walls are constructed with 2″ x 4″ studs it can be hard to get R-19 so we recommend a 2×6 wall. If you can’t do it then use R-13 with an additional layer of rigid foam. Go a little thicker on floors and ceilings if you can. For this we recommend R21 insulation.
You need a moisture or vapor barrier when designing a wine cellar to help can’t control humidity levels inside the room. The vapor barrier we recommend is 6 mil polyethylene sheeting also called visqueen. Wrap the vapor barrier around the entire wine cellar on the outside of the insulation, not the inside.
An Air Tight Seal
Think of a refrigerator. When the wine room’s door is closed there should be no airflow entering or leaving the space. You can’t control the temperature or relative humidity inside a room if you’ve got uncontrolled drafts. The door should have both weather stripping and a door sweep to prevent air from coming in and out of the wine cellar when the door is shut and some insulation. It’s no use insulating the room if your door lets heat in and out.
We recommend using an exterior door because their insulated and have a weather tight seal.
A danger to the preservation of fine wine is light. Not all light is created equal and some types are more harmful to wine that others, like direct sunlight. That’s why wine has been kept in dark bottles for ages. And it’s why wine rooms dating back a thousand years have always been totally dark. Of course your gonna include some light inside the wine room but be mindful of the type of lights you use and it’s strength.
Beautiful wine cellar with stone walls, wood shelves and racks, and wood center table. One of the best wine cellar design ideas.
Do You Need A Wine Room?
One of the first things you should do is ask yourself, why are you building a wine room and do you need one? Is it purely for storing wine? Or will you also use it for entertaining and displaying your wine collection? Understanding why you want the room and if you actually need one will help you come up with a good wine room design. each customer is different so your room should be tailored to your needs and budget.
Some customers buy valuable wine and have a large collection of $10,000 + bottles, they want a tasting room with elaborate displays and systems to keep the environment tightly controlled. While others have just a few cases to store and a few bottles with sentimental value. Both customers want a wine room but for a very different purpose and price point.
If your a serious collector with expensive wines then a dedicated wine room is your best option and you definitely need a wine room. They’re worth the money.
If you’ve got a small collection then a simple wine fridge may be more than enough for you. Wine rooms are basically a large fridge for storing wine so if you don’t need all that space then you probably don’t need a wine room. Unless you plan on expanding that collection some day.
What Are The Optimal Wine Room Conditions?
The ideal conditions for storing and aging wine are 55 to 60°F and 60 to 70% relative humidity. If your lucky, you have a basement where these conditions exist naturally, or at least come close so all you’ll need to do is adjust the conditions a little. Otherwise you’ll need to create a controlled environment to store your wine. Like we keep saying, think of a great wine room design as a large, room sized refrigerator. Aside from all the beautiful finishes they’re essentially a sealed room with controlled amounts of, heat, humidity, vibration and light.
Wine coolers, also called wine refrigerators, can maintain optimal conditions for your wine on a smaller scale. Wine coolers are temperature controlled, humidity controlled and block out harmful light. And the best models even keep wine at the proper serving temperature.
Wine fridges are great for short term storage and small collections that you plan on drinking. However, most wine coolers have temperature variations that aren’t good enough for the storage of fine wine and few maintain proper humidity levels well enough for long term storage and aging. So use a wine fridge for what it’s designed to do and not as a long term storage unit.
Ideally, wine should be stored in darkness, with minimal vibration and disturbances of any kind as it ages. If your looking for great wine cellar design ideas then make sure you get the function right first. The best designed room won’t be much use if all the wine goes bad.
Modern glass wine room with glass walls and metal racks.
Glass Wine Rooms
Glass walls are beautiful if your going for a modern wine room design. But there are some big drawbacks to using glass.
Glass doesn’t offer much insulation and has a very low R-value. Double pane glass has an R-value of just 3 to 4 but thermal triple pane glass has an R-value of between 9 and 10. That’s what we recommend it to all our customers.
Another big problem with glass walls in a wine room is light. Make sure to get glass with as much u.v. protection as possible and pay attention to the light sources in and around the wine room. Keep as much harmful light out of the room as possible.
Glass is actually a decent vapor barrier but it’s definitely not the best and you won’t be able to wrap the barrier around the insulation, which is optimal.
When you calculate the thermal load for your wine cellar you’ll have to compensate for having less insulation in the walls. Even if you buy the best glass you still won’t have the recommended insulation levels which means you’ll need more active temperature and humidity controls and a bigger system. Basement wine cellars with good insulation and a vapor barrier don’t need much help in keeping the environment right. But a glass wine room needs a lot.
Calculating the thermal load is an important part of good wine room design and will help you choose the correct cooling unit and humidity controls.
Basement wine cellar with wood shelves and center table.
Basement Wine Cellar Design Ideas
Basements are great for making a wine cellar in, however, concrete basement walls provide poor insulation. And given its porous nature, concrete isn’t a great vapor barrier either. Then why do basements make good wine cellars? It’s more about being underground than the materials basements are made from. Basements tend to stay at a more stable, cool temperature with less humidity than above ground floors and get less direct sunlight. All these factors are good for a wine cellar. But a great basement wine cellar design needs a little work.
One of the good things about a basement wine cellar is the temperature and relative humidity are closer to the optimal levels you want in the wine room anyway. So even though the walls don’t offer that much insulation and aren’t a good vapor barrier, it doesn’t matter that much.
The R-value of a standard 8″ thick basement wall is only around 1 to 2, which would be horrible for a ground floor wine cellar. But since it’s a basement that’s not too bad. We still recommend adding a layer of rigid foam insulation to the walls and a vapor barrier. The other walls and ceiling can be better insulated.
Every basement wine cellar design is different. When your designing yours the most important thing is to find a temperature and humidity control system that will keep your room at optimal levels.
A builder can run calculations to determine the exact system you need. But if your a DIY pro then we recommend installing a system that’s more than you think you’ll need. This way you can adjust the system to the correct levels before you start storing wine.
Wine room with built in through the wall cooling unit.
Wine Cellar Cooling Units
There are a few different types of cooling systems you can use for your new wine room. And price vs performance has a definite correlation. If your here looking for some great wine cellar design ideas then you’ve got to get the room’s function right first.
Through the wall cooling systems
Wall units are the cheapest and easiest type of air conditioner to install. They’re shipped completely ready to go. Just install it in the wall, plug it in and turn it on. These work the same as window units only they’re generally stronger and require a 220v outlet. Although wall units work fine, there are some drawbacks.
They take up space inside the room on the outside walls which are exactly where you’ll be storing the wine. They’re also pretty noisy and need a hole cut into the wall to fit the unit. You need enough room on both sides of the unit for proper ventilation. Anyone that’s ever had a window air conditioner will tell you there not great.
Cost: $1,000 to $3,500
Mini Split Systems
Mini split systems are made up of 2 pieces of equipment. The condenser is located outside while the duct unit and controls are mounted inside the wine cellar. The 2 sets of components are connected by refrigerant lines that an HVAC contractor needs to charge and install on site. The installer may also need to set up power and drain lines for the condenser.
There are a couple big advantages to using a mini split system over a wall unit.
Mini splits condensers can be placed far away from the wine cellar so noise isn’t an issue. Split systems don’t need a big hole in your wall and the unit itself is much smaller. They’re a much better quality system that’s on par with central air.
The only real drawbacks to using a split cooling system is that they require a professional installer and you still have a unit mounted either on the wall or ceiling. They’re more money but much better quality.
Duct cooling systems (a.k.a. Central Air)
Duct cooling systems, a.k.a. central air, create cool air with a condenser unit located outside. The air is pumped into the wine cellar through duct work. These are by far the best ways to temperature control a home.
The wine cellars won’t have any noise from the condenser as everything is located outside of the home. In addition, space in the wine cellar is maximized for wine storage because the cooling unit doesn’t take any space. All you have is an ac duct located anywhere in the room.
The only real disadvantage of central air is that they require professional installation and cost the most of any system.
Cost: $6,000 and up plus installation.
A variety of wine rack designs made from wood and metal with a granite countertop shelf.
Wine Cellar Racks
Wine cellar racks come in all types of shapes and sizes but generally fall into a few forms that are the most popular. Those types of wine racks are as follows:
Individual bottle storage
Each wine bottle is held in its own cell, either single bottle or double bottle deep. Cells can be built at different sizes to accommodate a variety of bottle types, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, etc. Individual wine bottle racks can be built out of any material but are most commonly wood or metal.
Diamond Bin Storage
Diamond shaped bins can be built small enough to hold individual bottles or large enough for bulk storage. Large diamond bins provide flexibility because they can hold any size bottle. Large diamond bins are better suited for long term storage if you have a large collection because bottles at the bottom will be more difficult to access. You should handle bottom bottles carefully since the bottles will be sitting on one another.
Case racks are designed to hold wine bottles in their original cases. Some case rack designs even come with sliding shelves for easier access. Racks can be built to hold either a wood or cardboard case. Make sure to specify if you want your storage racks built to hold a wood or cardboard case, because wood cases are wide and short while cardboard cases are narrow and tall.
Including a tabletop into your wine room design provides a convenient and attractive spaces for opening bottles and pouring wine. Tabletops can be made from a variety of materials to match your overall room design. They also also offer a great place to display accessories like stemware, decanters, and bottle openers.
Wine Cellar Cabinets
It’s always a good idea to include a few cabinets in the room to store things you don’t want to leave out. Especially if you plan on using the room for tasting or to display your wines. Wine room cabinets serve the same basic function as kitchen cabinets, and if they’re base cabinets, they come along with some useful counter space.
Wine Rack Kits
If you can’t afford custom designed and built wine racks don’t worry, you’ve still got plenty of great options.
There are a wide range of wine rack kits on the market designed to suit a variety of configurations. In most cases it’s possible to achieve a custom look while saving a lot of money.
Wine rack kits offer many, but not all, of the configurations and materials offered by custom wine racks and in most cases are really nice. Think of it in the same way as kitchen cabinets. Some of the finest luxury kitchens in the world are using stock cabinets. One of the benefits of factory made racks and storage units are the consistent level of quality. Custom work is only as good as the people who make it.
Wine cellar with a variety of storage designs. Individual, diamond and square storage racks with countertop, shelves and center barrel.
Wine Cellar Storage
I’m sure you’ve noticed the difference in size between Bordeaux/Cabernet and Burgundy/Pinot bottles? It’s important to keep bottle size variations in mind when you design your wine room. The idea of the room is storing wine bottles so having a way to store bottles of different sizes makes sense. Even if you don’t currently own larger bottles you may at some point.
For most wine rooms, storage for 750ml bottles will make up the majority of your individual wine racks. Make sure the slot sizes are wide enough to accommodate large format bottles which are very common. Generally, 3.75″ is wide enough for most Bordeaux, Burgundy, and many Champagne bottles.
If you have a lot of Magnum or split bottles, you should included dedicated storage for each bottle type. You should also consider other types of larger bottles like Double Magnums, Jeroboams, etc.
And as with most wine collectors you’ll probably end up collecting other liquors as well. And this is most likely the place your store the bottles. Along with your cigars and whatever else you’d like to stash. It’s just a good idea to include storage space for stuff even if you don’t necessarily need it at the time you design the room.
The best wine cellar design ideas allow for some flexibility and versatility as the collection is bound to evolve over time.
Dark wood single bottle wine racks with cabinet and countertop. Small wine room design.
What Does A Wine Cellar Cost To Build?
What does a wine cellar cost to build is probably the single most common question we get asked by customers wanting to build a wine room. It’s a tough question to answer because there’s such a wide variety of room designs ranging from super basic to extremely elaborate. We’ll try our best to give you some average costs for a room with average finishes. Keep in mind these averages do not apply to our high end clients who can spend 50 times the average or more on a luxury wine room.
Although the overall cost depends on the space, homeowners on average pay about $30,000 – $40,000 to build a wine cellar. However the cost to build a DIY wine cellar can be as little as $1,000, while building an entire room for 5,000 or more bottles can cost well over $100,000. Would you like to build a custom wine cellar but aren’t sure how much it’ll cost?
When looking for the best wine cellar design ideas don’t forget to consider the budget and the following factors.
Wine cellars need quite a bit of construction work to build and finish the room itself. This is aside from the cooling systems, racks, storage, door, flooring etc. Walls have to be framed and properly insulated with a vapor barrier and air tight door to create a sealed environment. The construction phase also includes framing for the cooling unit as well as running rough electrical for lights and outlets and rough plumbing for a sink if you want one.
Then there’s the finish work. Installing sheet rock, masonry, wall paneling, glass walls etc. Installing all the fixtures, lights, outlets, sinks, etc. And things like tiling the floors, hanging the door, installing trim, grouting, spackling, sanding and painting. There’s a lot of work that needs doing before you build a single rack or store a single bottle.
Cost: Prices vary depending on the size and finish level of the wine cellar but for an average wine room with sheetrocked walls, paint, tile or hardwood floors, basic electric and no plumbing with basic trim, figure around $50 per sq. ft. or around $5000 for an average 100 sq. ft. wine room. That’s about the size of a walk in closet or pantry.
Wine Cellar Cooling Equipment
There are three main methods of refrigerating a wine room with very different price points.
Wall Unit Cost: $1,000 which does not include installation
Mini Split Cost: $5,000 which includes installation
Central Air: $10,000 Generally most homes have a central air system already however a small dedicated zone should be run just for the wine room.
Choices range from wine rack kits to custom designed and built racks. Costs vary based on the number of bottles, type of wine racks, type of material, and choice of upgrades, finishes and options. There are so many choices when it comes to wine racks that it’s really hard to quote an accurate price but we’ll do our best.
For diamond bin racks custom built out of redwood or mahogany, the two most popular types of wood we use for wine racks, and assuming the racks are individually sized.
On average wine racks account for around 70% of the total cost of the wine room.
Cost: $45 per bottle on average but costs can run into the hundreds per bottle depending on the level of quality, materials used and design.
Wine Cellar Door
An exterior grade insulated door is what we recommend you use. It provides an airtight seal and insulation. Exterior doors vary quite a bit but you can pick a base model up in stock at any Home Depot.
Cost: $1200 including installation.
Wine Cellar Floor
We’ve used just about every type of flooring you can imagine and they all work just fine in a wine room. It’s all about your personal stye here. Tile, hardwood, stone, brick, concrete, carpet or some type of engineered flooring. They’ll all work just fine.
Cost: $3 to $15 per square foot which includes installation
Lighting fixtures, cabinets, tables, shelves, glasses, openers, etc. Depending on what you plan on using the wine room for you may want to include some additional things that all add cost to the room. This ones hard to give a price for because it’s totally up to you and not really a part of building the room. Our average customers do spend so money on extras though.
Cost: $1000 +
Wine Room Design Ideas
Below is a gallery of some of our favorite wine room design ideas.
Large DIY wine room with wooden single bottle racks. Wood wall paneling.
Round wine room design with custom made wood racks and center tasting table.
Large wine cellar with wood racks and tasting counter.
Beautiful large wine room with a variety of custom built wood racks. Single bottle, diamond and shelving. Center tasting table with built in bottle holders. Glass shelves with wine glass racks. Custom wine bottle chandelier.
Large wine room for thousands of bottles. Wood racks.
Light wood wine racks and shelving with tasting table.
Large basement wine cellar with brick walls and ceiling. Wood wine racks.
Kitchen wine room design. Diamond racks with large wine refrigerator.
Round basement wine cellar design. Wood single bottle racks.
Basement wine cellar design. Wood wine racks with cabinets and shelving.
Classic wine room design. Stone walls and wood racks with wood tasting table.
Large wine room with tons of wood wine racks of all shapes, sizes and styles.
Wine room with tile floors, custom made wood racks. Single bottle, diamond and shelving.
Round wine cellar design with brick walls and wood racks. Center tasting table.
Beautiful wine cellar design with red brick walls and dark wood. Metal wine racks.
Wine cellar design with a variety of light wooden racks.
Beautiful wine room design with custom built wood racks and center island.
A variety of wine storage racks including single bottle, display racks, diamonds and some counter space. All custom built from wood with a wood paneled ceiling and brick floor.
Wine cellar design with tons of singe bottle wooden racks and ceiling cooling unit.
Simple DIY Wine Rack Design Ideas
DIY wine cellar design. Diamond and single bottle wooden racks.
Simple DIY wine room with wood cabinets and shelving. Metal wall racks.
DIY wine room with wood racks.
Simple kitchen pantry wine room.
DIY basement wine cellar with wood racks, wall cooling unit and small table.
DIY wine room design. Wood wine racks.
Rustic Wine Room Design Ideas
Beautiful wine cellar design. Stone walls with tile floors and custom built wood racks. Single bottle, diamond and storage.
Rustic wine room design, wood single bottle racks with center barrel.
Large wine cellar design with stone basement walls and wood racks.
Large basement wine cellar with wooden diamond and single bottle wine racks.
Rustic wine cellar with stone walls and wood ceiling. Custom built wood wine racks with a wood center tasting table. Glass doors.
Beautiful wine room featuring custom built racks, shelves and drawers. Medium stained real wood. Stone tile floors. Vertical wall paneling.
Modern Wine Room Design Ideas
Modern styled wine rooms are beautiful with a variety of designs. They’re using a combination of glass and metal or wood with clean lines and sharp angles.
Contemporary wine room with glass walls and glass shelves. Stone walls.
Beautiful wine room design. Brick walls with glass shelves. Wood racks and cabinets. Glass doors.
Beautiful custom built wood wine racks and cabinets.
Modern wine room under stairs design. Glass walls with metal racks.
Modern wine room design. Metal racks with glass walls. Wood shelving.
Contemporary wine cellar design. Single bottle tube wine racks.
Summary: Are Wine Cellars Worth It?
Wine cellars are a beautiful addition to any home that have been proven to increase home value, if they’re built in the right home. If your a wine collector or enthusiast or just like to drink then building a wine room to protect and properly age your collection may be something that’s right for you. With so many DIY options, simple cooling units and rack kits on the market, a wine room can be built to fit just about any budget.
I hope some of the information and pics shown here will help you with your wine room design.
If you have any questions or comments e-mail us any time.