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From what I've read, as long as the wines are not subject to very high or low temperatures, or sudden swings in temperature, and are not near strong odours or vibrations, they'll be fine. That's been my experience to date.

I ask because we are thinking of simply building walls around our current wine racks in the corner of the cellar to store them while we're out of the country for a few years. Yes, I will have to trust the tenants, but colleagues have done what we're considering and all has gone well. The storage would be written into the lease.

I thought about buying a Vinocellar but for less money, perhaps much less, we can build a cold cellar which would offer more potential uses. And we'd still have to trust the tenants. Besides, how would I ever get my vinocellar out of the basement if we sold the house? Off-site storage for my current holdings would be about $1000 a year which seems expensive.

Comments?
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I would think it would depend on what you plan on doing with your cellar and what wines you intend to cellar more than 10-15+ years. If you have Bordeaux FGs and other high end wines and may someday want to resell it, you will get higher offers if you have stored in some kind of temperature controlled environment. Outside of that scenario and the fact that you live up in the Great White North, I would think most wines are fine in a cold basement (unless you also plan on a family room down there in which case, like Board-O, said, wall-it off and insulate it.)
I'd say no major worries. I've had a passive basement cellar for about 6 years. Mid-to upper 50s winter, upper 60s summer. Humidity OK (never below 40-50%). Downside, it's in the corner of my laundry room, so it's not completely odor free and gets vibrations and a 2-3 degree temp increase for a couple hours 1-2 days per week (though not for long enough to likely have much impact on the actual wine temp). To a purist, that's gotta sound like a bad setup (I hear you cringing Big Grin ), but it's the best I can do right now in my house.

Results to date: over the last few months I've opened 5-6 bottles that have been there since close to the beginning. Only one seemed at all "advanced" and none had any off characteristics that my meager palate could pick up. The one that was a bit advanced was a 2002 Napa Merlot that had slight bricking, but was delicious and probably wouldn't have been more than a 7-8 year wine regardless of storage. Would I risk storing first growths for 30 years in those conditions? No, but my experience gives me no concern that I can't get good results for 10 years or more.

I'd love to hear others' experiences with "non-ideal" cellaring with similar temp ranges.
I keep most of my better/long term wines, and most champagnes which I've heard are more sensitive, in a carefully regulated fridge, in the basement, and the rest are stored in a setup similar to what you described, also in the basement. I've never had a problem with anything that I could really attribute to the storage conditions. The temperature is never far from 55-65 degrees depending on the season and never fluctuates fast enough to do any harm that I can see. Like The Prof said purists may cringe but it works for me.

Other things to consider while you're gone. Is there a possibility of the basement flooding? It might ruin some labels but shouldn't bother the wine. Insurance coverage/rider for the wine in the event of a fire or theft? Any chance of a big storm and a week without power in the winter when the stuff could all freeze or is there a back-up generator? We had that last December here and without the generator a lot of my wine would probably have been lost. Freak stuff I know and if it's all covered then no worries I guess but things like that would make me look twice at off-site storage if I was going to be gone for years.
I've stored wine in the 60s for years w no problems. Do you KNOW how warm your basement gets? Figuring about 60 isn't the same as actually knowing. I've taken measurements in mine for years and while I think it's in the 60s, it actually gets into the 70s once in a while.

If you really have lower temps, and you insulate the ceiling especially, since your top floor is no doubt going to be heated, maybe you'll be OK minus the flooding, etc., as mentioned. But for only $1000 a year, I might store it off site.

The thing is, the wine will age differently than if it's stored in the 50s. Doesn't mean that's necessarily all bad, but it's not going to be the same wine. If you've ever tasted side by side bottles stored in the 50s and those stored in fluctuating temps, you'll see the differences very quickly. Things like brett and any bacteria problems develop much faster at higher temps for example, and slow polymerization of tannins isn't as fast as some of the other reactions, so you get a different texture in the wine too. But again, I've done it and the wines have been fine.
bman, when will you be moving and for how long?

We kept our wines in a passive cellar for years and they're fine. They are in offsite storage now, but that's also (mainly) passive, with only some temperature control if summer heat gets out of hand (which hardly happens in Holland), and the wines that I've taken from there are all in good condition. Bottom line: I wouldn't worry about it.
bman-

There's an off-site available in St-Therese (clicky) that will store a little less expensively than what you quote above (OR, store you most precious goods off-site and rack the ones you won't worry about in the basement). I know the cellar and can attest to the fact that it is indeed an excellent place for perfect storage, both for temp/humidity and security. To me, this type of set-up would be the most secure and give you a lot of 'piece of mind'. It's not the temperature stability that concerns me in your present home. Icewino brings up a very valid concern (flooding/freezing). Your tenants won't have near the level of concern on your items as you would in the event this happens and you're way too far away to begin to deal with it.

my .02
I think your wines will be fine. The following wine was stored in my Father-in-Laws basement (standing up part of the time) for 28 years before we drank it.

1975 Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino (3/10/2003)
I opened this wine with duck made by my wife. The 1975 Castiglion was simply glorious. The nose was earthy and pronounced with cherry and spice aromas. It showed no signs of fading. Notes of cherry, plum, indian spice, meat, kirsch and cassis were woven together in this wine. Sangiovese at its best. Extremely deep palate. This was a full bodied wine which showed dry tannins and then melted into a long caressing finish. It possessed the type of refinement which only develops in a mature wine. 93-94 points.

VM
quote:
Originally posted by Sweatred:
Hi bman ...

My basement in Ottawa got up to 21 C / 70 F in the summer. Guess it depends on how deep your basement is dug and how often you use the AC. I am 8 feet below grade. Apparently if I went down a few more feet I would hit 12-14 C. My builder suggested I pick axe the basement floor in my cellar and let it passively cool ... I settled for a cooling unit.

When I walled in my cellar I tested the temperature a few weeks without the cooling unit and it didn't drop much.
I like Board-O's advice. If you can, pick a corner that doesn't get morning sunlight. If you can, great; if not, all is not lost.

Build a frame at the corner with 2x4s, board up, add a vapour barrier, insulate. If part of the basement is above ground level, your cellar drop ceiling should be slightly below ground level. Add an (insulated) door. I'm no carpenter but this is easy stuff - a friend or handyman could build this in about 4 hours.

If your temp crawls above 15C in the summer, you can always cut out a hole, and add a VK or other chiller unit (starting around $500) between the wall studs.

With a locked door, you have a good amount of security. Plus, there are thermo/hygrometers on the market that work with an iPhone app (or give you extranet access) and that relay temp & humidity data in real-time (you need WiFi for this, naturally) - so you can have peace of mind that your babies are sleeping well.
Thanks to all for the good advice Cool Depending on what it will cost to have someone come and build a couple of walls and a door, we'll either do that or buy a Vintagekeeper. We'll have a property manager to check on things while we're away and I just can't bring myself to pay so much for private storage. I may put my real trophies, which amount to only a few cases, in a relative's cellar while we're away. Presuming I can find one I trust more than a faceless tenant..... Wink

Two years isn't all that long, so I'm not really surprised at your result.  I think the typical feedback given on this forum regarding storage in a closet (interior, away from direct sunlight) is that up to two years is ok.  So thanks for verifying that!

I would worry about wines in a basement such as yours that I needed to lay down for 10-20 years. Any chance of you performing that experiment?

sd-wineaux posted:

Two years isn't all that long, so I'm not really surprised at your result.  I think the typical feedback given on this forum regarding storage in a closet (interior, away from direct sunlight) is that up to two years is ok.  So thanks for verifying that!

I would worry about wines in a basement such as yours that I needed to lay down for 10-20 years. Any chance of you performing that experiment?

FWIW my passive cellar goes from about 50-72F over the course of the year. It's a gradual shift as the seasons change, no dramatic spikes either way. I've been storing wine in there for 11 years now and have yet to find a bottle which I thought was even remotely aged prematurely, although I have not done any side-by-side comparisons described above. In a way it's disappointing for me because a little accelerated ageing might allow me to buy more of the 2015 Brunello when released.

Some of my wine is in a passive cellar... recently I opened a couple Barolo that were purchased on release and left alone for 20 years.  Both wines were in spectacular form and did not show heat fatigue.  That said, the cellar stays 12-18C and never goes over 18C.  Once you get to room temperature, range, anywhere near 20C or above, I'd be really concerned.

Fluctuations are fine by can't be too extreme, as that will cause cork movement and/or seepage.

Coming back to the original post, my word how technology has advanced in a decade.  If tenants or security is still a particular concern, you can mount a remote camera (e.g. Wyze) to trigger on motion and capture everything.  They're so cheap now and the image/video capture is great.  All you'd needs is a wall socket to plug into and WiFi.

steve8 posted:
sd-wineaux posted:

Two years isn't all that long, so I'm not really surprised at your result.  I think the typical feedback given on this forum regarding storage in a closet (interior, away from direct sunlight) is that up to two years is ok.  So thanks for verifying that!

I would worry about wines in a basement such as yours that I needed to lay down for 10-20 years. Any chance of you performing that experiment?

FWIW my passive cellar goes from about 50-72F over the course of the year. It's a gradual shift as the seasons change, no dramatic spikes either way. I've been storing wine in there for 11 years now and have yet to find a bottle which I thought was even remotely aged prematurely, although I have not done any side-by-side comparisons described above. In a way it's disappointing for me because a little accelerated ageing might allow me to buy more of the 2015 Brunello when released.

Glad to hear it!  Post back in another 9 years, hopefully regarding some bottles you've had for that entire span.  That would be very interesting.

if you keep wine out of direct sunlight or flourescent light, keep it at a steady cool temperature, control the humidity and keep it away from vibration outputting appliances, your basement should be a good place to store wine. The other thing to consider is the environment. Don't store wine in areas with chemicals or fumes in the air from construction work or painting

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