My first post here so thanks for having me.
I have a custom-built, well insulated, cellar in the garage with a Cellar Pro 4200VSi cooling unit. During the spring and summer the cooling unit keeps the temperature constant at 55 F. During the winter the temperatures have slowly declined and are now at 43 F. There are no major fluctuations during the day—as mentioned, the temperature decline was very slow and gradual.
I do have wines that I’m planning to age for decades, and my question is: should I be thinking of a heating solution, and if so, any recommendations?
I’m contemplating between three main options:
1. Leave as is, since the daily temperature fluctuations are very minor (0-1 degrees). I don’t mind if it takes my wines longer to age; in fact, I prefer it to be the case. Perhaps during the spring and summer set the cooling unit to 50 F and this way reduce the difference between the minimum and maximum?
2. Replace the existing cooling unit with one that is both a cooling and a heating unit. The problem with this approach is that the existing unit wasn’t cheap. But if people think this is the ideal approach, any recommended unit?
3. Keep using the existing cooling unit. Turn it off during the winter (following the advice of the manufacturer’s support). Add a separate heating unit and activate it during the winter. If people think that this is the ideal approach, any recommended unit?
Thanks for any advice!
BGThis message has been edited. Last edited by: BG,
I would think you should either leave as is, as I would imagine your existing unit shuts itself off as needed when the temperature drops to a certain point, and the 0-1 degree variation with a low of 43 should not be a problem. If you do change units, I would think a cellar installation company could point you in the right direction for a dual purpose unit, but I would think having two units for different functions would just over complicate things.
Either way, sounds like a GOOD problem to have compared to the other extreme!
That's, RedLoverJim to you
I built my cellar nearly 10 years ago, it's in my basement. The outer walls are brick (yes, brick foundation in my 110 year old house) so in the winter it gets kind of cold in there. I have the cooling unit set to 57 for the summer and in the winter it goes down to the mid 40s (47 last I looked). I don't think there's any damage to my wines, but I guess I'll find out! As far as I can tell my wines age in an average fashion. I have a fair sized selection of 2000 bdx that I've had since release that doesn't seem to be maturing any faster than the average, likewise with my 01s and 03s. Everything else might be too young to know yet. Bottom line- as long as the fluctuation happens slowly and the temps don't get too high I don't think it matters (I hope).
Yes, load-bearing masonry walls...i.e., Chicago.
I have a very efficient baseboard heater installed for that reason. It is thermostat controlled and doesn't complicate anything, just be sure to make sure they aren't competing against each other (i.e leave the heater off in the spring/summer, leave the AC off in the fall/winter).
I have a few thermometers set up in the cellar and none show more than a degree of fluctuation while the heater is running. Baseboard heaters are also very affordable as opposed to a new unit.
Victory loves preparation.
Do not heat. Just let it be. Unless you are going to get down into the low 20's where you can freeze wine, you have zero issues. Your wines will age glacially but spectacularly.
It rhymes with wine...
Are you worried about 43 degrees? As Eric said, that's perfect. Your wine isn't too cold unless it freezes.
Or are you worried about the 43-55 degree fluctuation over the year? That may be more of an issue - some people say that they fluctation doesn't matter so much if it's gradual - that's not true. But in your case, the fluctuation is in the comfort zone for the wine and it won't cause nearly the same effect as it would if it went between say, 58 and 70.
Sounds to me like you have an ideal situation. You only need to cool for part of the year and the rest of the time you have passive cooling.
"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
GregT, I've never heard anyone call into question gradual temperature fluctuations as a potential negative. I did a quick google search and found the link below (I have no idea how credible it is, look at the bottom section). They claim the cellars of DRC, Leroy, and Margaux (and indirectly the other first growths) swing by 13 - 15 degrees seasonally. I doubt the OPs 12 degree swing would be an issue especially considering the low overall temperature.
Indeed. It's fascinating to see the original beams in my house though, the 2x4s are actually 2 inches by 4 inches, not the nominal 2x4s (1.75 x 3.5) that are used today. The main beams are 4x4 and are as solid a wood as I've ever seen.
Thanks for the link, WineCanuck, that was very informative.
GregT- do you have a reference for that very strong statement? If so I'm interested, it matters to me for obvious reasons.
Is there a reason for such an adamant stand on not including a heater in a wine cellar? In the 2 feet of the external walls in my cellar, I think it's possible that it's cold enough for the wine on the top shelves of the racking to freeze. I also don't think the heater actually affects the wine before it shuts off, rather only the air in the cellar itself ( due to the specific heat capacity of liquid(wine) being far greater than that of air). I'm not very experienced , but I think if it is emitting radiant heat , not situated near any wine, it should be okay. Any responses would be helpful, as it is now starting to be of concern to me
Victory loves preparation.
As far as I know, the only cooling unit out there which also produce heat shall the temp drops under set temp is Eurocave INOA. I used it on all my commercial build. I don't know if I shall trust a external heater. Regardless, heater in a cellar sounds scary already.
Your heater will also drop your humidity which is not good.
Interesting, I will monitor the levels more closely, but it seems to be at a decent level to me (mid 60s).
Victory loves preparation.
Thanks everyone! The replies are very helpful. BTW, in the meanwhile the temperatures have dropped further, with the lowest being 39F. So the maximum difference so far between summer and winter is 16 degrees. Based on what I hear so far, it seems like it shouldn't be a great cause for concern as long as the decrease is very gradual and the wines don't freeze.
My passive cellar is colder than yours year round and I would never consider a heater. I've cellared wine since the mid 1980's and have Bordeaux that are drinking perfectly.
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