How to Build a Wine Cellar
Have you always wanted to know how to build a wine cellar? Maybe convert a closet or under the stairs? With 25+ years of experience, WineRacks.com is here to help build your dream wine cellar in any space, on any budget. Wine Cellar Construction Guide outlines best wine storage practices.
Wine Cellar Types
There are basically two types of wine cellars:
- Passive Wine Cellar: no environmental temperature/humidity control
- Active Wine Cellar: environmental control of temparature/humidity
Ideal Wine Cellar Conditions and Requirements
Whether you have a Passive or Active Wine Cellar, we recommend an average temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit for all wine storage. Cooler temperatures won’t damage your wine but will slow its development. Keep in mind, a temperature of 65 degrees or more will have a negative effect on wine the longer it’s stored.
The ideal humidity in your wine cellar should be 60-70%, but anything over 50% is acceptable. High humidity, 80% or more, may cause mold to form on the corks and bottles.
The ideal long term wine storage should avoid heat, direct light and vibration. Ideally, your space can accommodate these conditions year round. If not, consider investing in a wine cooling unit and humidification system.
Choosing a Wine Cellar Location
The best location for a wine cellar is below ground level in a basement, generally where cooler and more humid conditions already exist.
A corner of a basement, with two exterior walls and free of windows, is ideal.
Wine cellars built above grade simply require special attention and materials to properly insulate and seal the custom wine room.
Wine Cellar Construction
Unless local codes dictate otherwise, standard 2 x 4 framing is sufficient for R13 insulation; ideally R19 should be used for insulation, thus requiring 2 x 6 framing.
Electrical work should be completed to code prior to insulation and drywall.
Wine Cellar Insulation
A Vapor Barrier is critical in controlling the humidity of your wine cellar. This barrier keeps the higher humidity from flowing out of the room, and prevents warm and moist air in (especially in high temperature and humidity areas) – eliminating excess condensation buildup from the cooling unit.
If you have access to both sides of your stud wall, you can install the vapor barrier between the studs and the warm exterior wall. Otherwise a 6 mil poly/plastic (sold in rolls or sheets) should be stapled over the studs before applying insulation. The interior walls of your wine cellar should be insulated with a minimum of R13 for 2 x 4 framing (preferably R19 in 2 x 6 framing).
If you live in areas of very high summer temperatures or very low winter temperatures, we recommend that you insulate with R19 (minimum) and R30 where your framing allows. Ceilings should be insulated to a minimum of R19.
Concrete walls and floors should be sealed with a “paint on” sealant (such as “DryLock”) to seal all cracks.
Typically, 1/2″ plywood sheeting will be secured to all walls (after electrical rough in and insulation) to anchor your wine racking, but it is not required if using nailers between studs. Although a standard 1/2″– 3/4″ sheet rock may be used, it is highly recommended that you use moisture resistant “green board”.
Your wallboard may be finished with a quality oil base or latex enamel paint. We do not recommend installing a baseboard as the racking will be flush to the entire wall and include a toekick molding.
Wine Cellar Cost
The cost of building a wine cellar can seem daunting at first, we believe wine storage comes in all shapes and sizes. How much it costs to build a wine cellar depends heavily on several key factors, but building a wine cellar on a budget is entirely possible.
Wine Racking Options
Wine Cellar Cooling Unit Types
Wine cooling units are available in several different configurations. Take some time to choose the Best Wine Cellar Cooling Unit For You based on your cellar location and size. Wine cooling units work similar to air conditioners – they add cool air to the room and exhaust hot air. Most cooling units can be installed if you’re handy, with the exception of the split systems. For proper operation and effectiveness of your cooling unit, it is important to get the right size unit for your space, with a proper insulation and vapor barriers.
- Through-the-Wall Cooling Unit – installed through a hole in a wall and exhausted into another room
- Fully Ducted Cooling Unit – allows you to mount the cooling unit remotely (in a ceiling or utility room) and uses ducting to both blow the cool air in and exhaust the warm air out
- Split System Cooling – works like your home central air conditioning. Half of the unit is located inside the cellar and the other half is located outside of your home. These units usually require installation by a certified HVAC technician.