Sunday, September 19, 2010


It's crush season here in least in the north central region. I know this because I just returned from a lovely weekend at the Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth. This fine Bavarian town was in full swing.

"Crush", the industry slang for the harvest season, is when the grapes are picked, crushed and stored in barrels and it can be anytime between late August and November, depending on the weather, region, climate and varietal.

The tasting rooms in Leavenworth were buzzing, the local wineries were packed, and cases were being loaded into was a wonderful sight to see. I thought about all those bottles of wine...some would be enjoyed over dinner tonight, but most will be gently placed next to other bottles....where they will stay until their time.

It didn't take long for my mind to drift off to the places these fine bottles will land. I reflected on some of the gorgeous, unique, colorful and, shall I say, "creative" wine cellars I have seen over the years. 

So, for all of you who enjoy wine, enjoy collecting wine, and enjoy designing beautiful spaces, this one's for you!

Many of my clients love wine and they love collecting wine. Some are lucky enough to have the space in their home to create a perfectly appointed wine room to showcase their enviable collection. Space is important for two reason, first because of the size of their collection, but also because they want a room that allows for a table and chairs, or at least a nice counter, so they can sit with friends and enjoy a fine bottle, or two. 

However, many houses in Seattle simply don't have the space for a wine cellar of this magnitude. But dedicated wine enthusiasts are clever homeowners and they are able to find a small room, usually in the basement, that can be transformed into a delightful cellar. 

For this beautiful cellar the owners created a warm feeling by installing a tile floor, racking for 1,800 bottles, and painted the walls to look like stone. The lovely glass door allows the passerby to drink it all in. 

A little bit of Tuscany in such a small space! This mural artist is a doll!

A small area at the base of a staircase was carved out for a few hundred bottles. The addition of a hand forged iron rail, reclaimed terra cotta tile, and layers of apricot venetian plaster brings it to life.

However, there still might not be space for a wine cellar like these. I have one client who found the front hall closet was just perfect for their collection. I quite liked how my coat smelled after it had hung in their for a few hours! So, if you are in this category, check out some of these lovely options.

A coat closet easily becomes a wine cellar - perfect when space is at a premium.
Another example of how a small area can be transformed...warm wood, a glass front door, and the right lighting are key elements to any cellar, big or small. 

But, if you're anything like me, your coat closet is so jam packed with coats that you entertain only during the warm season. Don't despair, I have a solution or two for you!

This homeowner took advantage of unused space for this compact wine cubby - it was perfect as the basement is always cool and dry. 
During a recent kitchen remodel, a lover of white wine installed this vertical wine cooler and made room for some red wine as well. 
At the end of the day, if all you have is a drawer....than the drawer it is!

Whether you're a serious collector of fine wines - or simply an enthusiast, designing the proper environment for a wine cellar is critical.

Wine is a living organism and like all living things, it needs the proper environment in order to thrive, and to age well. As a result, the storage conditions of the wine are crucial. There are four main environmental factors to consider: temperature, humidity, darkness, and stability.

Temperature: The temperature should remain constant and experts recommend staying within the 55-60 F range. The cooler the temperature, the slower the aging process.

Humidity: Refrigeration is necessary to maintain both temperature, and proper humidity level (50-70%). The corks rely on the dampness in order to stay wet, and to keep the wine properly sealed. 

Darkness: Wine should always be kept from direct sunlight because ultraviolet rays will destroy its color and taste. The cellar should be softly lit, and only when occupied. 

Stability: Stability is key when planning your cellar. Not only is it imperative that the temperature and humidity of the cellar remain stable, but also that there is as little vibration as possible. Vibrations can rob many wines of flavor and bouquet.

Remember, wine cellars are no longer strictly confined to the underground or for the extremely wealthy. Most cellars today are converted from existing spaces as varied as sun rooms, basement work rooms, closets, and garages. So open a bottle and start planning. Cheers! Here's to la chasse au bonheur!

In all my postings, my goal is to provide inspiration and insight into home ownership, real estate, and to provide valuable resources.

Wine Cellar Design/Installations/Sources
APEX Wine Cellars and Racking (racking kits in modular designs)

Braveheart Construction & Remodeling

Design Wine Cellars

Pathway Design & Construction

Vintage Solutions

Wine Cellar Innovations
Mike Schoech
1-513-335-5755 or 1-800-229-9813

Mural Artist
Ann Fiser
Fiser Fine Arts

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