Aging is an important part of the wine-making process, and each bottle of wine has a different shelf life. Some wines are meant to be stored for several years before reaching their peak drinking age. The best way to preserve wine to ensure maximum quality and enjoyment is by having a dedicated wine storage area in one’s home.
Nowadays, there are a wide variety of options for showcasing and displaying wine collections, from chic cellars to stylish shelves.
“For most people, it is to have a better control of their inventory,” says Gabriel Davila, owner of GLR Wine Cellars in Los Angeles, which specializes in custom wine cellars and cabinets. “For others it is the beginning of a new hobby and, most of all, convenience so they can keep wine that they like properly stored until they feel like drinking that particular wine.”
According to Jhoiey Ramirez, co-founder and creative director of The Sycamore Collective, a Los Angeles-based bespoke design studio, people’s needs for wine storage have also changed over time.
“In the previous years, wine cellars were in a dark part of the house not meant for display, much like the evolution of kitchens from a back room to a centerpiece,” Ramirez says. “Wine storage has been getting more attention. I believe it’s part of the societal aspect of it. When you’re having a get-together in your home, and you consider yourself a wine connoisseur of some sort, you want to make that obvious and show off your collection by having it in a more accessible area.”
Ramirez points out that there are myriad wine storage and display options available on the market today.
“Most refrigeration brands offer good-looking beverage refrigeration that has a glass front to differentiate it from the food fridge,” Ramirez says. “There’s also a multitude of ready-made hardware options for mounting. Our clients opted to have something more unique in their homes, something more custom and more fitting with the rest of their space that puts the wine display almost as a centerpiece.”
One important thing to take into consideration when adding wine storage to a home is the amount of space one has.
“It all depends on the space available for a wine cellar,” Davila says. “Some people have old homes with California basements, and some are much newer and they don’t have that. The size of the home is very important. We have done everything from large rooms to wine walls and, in some cases, wine cabinets.”
Prior to starting a project, Davila will schedule an in-person meeting with his client to discuss their goals and visions for their wine storage.
“We always like to go to the client’s home to look at the space dedicated for the cellar,” Davila says. “Sometimes it is not ideal for what they want, or there are things with the structure of the home that don’t allow us to do what they want — so then we have to look for other options.”
When choosing an area of the home for storing wine, Ramirez says that temperature and light exposure are two important things to keep in mind.
“Some areas in the house that get too much light are not good for keeping the wine, so the best option is an area with humidity and temperature control away from windows,” she says.
“Different wines need different temperatures as well. When a collection of wine is for display and there is more than one can fit in the usual refrigeration unit, then a room can be created specifically for that purpose, almost like a walk-in refrigeration.”
One of Ramirez’s clients had an odd corner in the house that he felt would be wasted space if not properly allocated, so he asked if they could make that storage space for his wine.
Ramirez and her team fashioned the corner and lined it with leather, enclosed it in glass, and used the same wood throughout the house to create wine holders on angles replicating the geometry of the house. Then they added a dedicated air-conditioning unit for it to be ideal as wine storage.
“Each home can have a thoroughly unique way of showcasing their wine selection,” Ramirez says. “Another client asked us to use the bottom of their staircase to create a wine forest. We had all these vertical wine holders of different heights mounted on the floor; we lined the walls with leather and added light on each mounting tower. It looked like a fantasy black forest.”
Other unique projects that Ramirez has created for clients based on their request include a 20-foot wine tower in the middle of a circular grand staircase and a refrigerated console under a theater projection screen with custom pullout wine drawers.
“The option is based on what kind of wine enthusiast the client is,” Ramirez says. “The clients who collect wine for consumption are very particular on creating an environment for their wine collection to make sure it’s optimum for taste when the bottle is finally opened. Some clients acquire wine for the sake of collecting, so they want a more display-oriented way of presenting it and not so focused on what the wine needs. There is absolutely no hard and fast rule — only your imagination (and your budget) can limit the ways you can showcase your wine collection.”
When it comes to installation, Davila and Ramirez agree that timing varies depending on the scale of the project.
“It depends on how extensive the customization is, but it is fairly quick when all the materials are available,” Ramirez says.
“Now if a dedicated room needs its own air conditioning to become a walk-in wine cooling room, it’s very important to consider that it needs a space for the air handler unit and the condenser unit. The additional electrical load of that also needs to be understood before deciding to do it, as it will need a dedicated circuit.”
Maintenance is also required for wine storage, and Davila recommends having it done once a year.
Ramirez adds, “There is definitely some maintenance involved if you are converting an area of your home to be a temperature-controlled room for keeping wine. You don’t just want temperature controlled but humidity as well. The air-conditioning unit needs to be checked and filters changed among other things, so it is a commitment for sure. Of course, at that level, you probably have someone managing your home’s maintenance anyway.”
GLR Custom Wine Cellars
The Sycamore Collective