I am an amateur wine enthusiast with a small amount of college level education in viticulture. I have been collecting wine with varying degrees of enthusiasm since around the Millennium. At this point I would say my wife and I are at fever pitch. We tend to prefer Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab dominant blends, but are always looking to explore.

I am about to begin the process of building a cellar under my home in Colorado, which is the catalyst that lead to my discovery of the forum. I am looking forward to exploring the vast amount of knowledge on the forum and I am happy to have stumbled upon the community.

Thanks for being here.

- Braden
Original Post
Braden,

Welcome. You should try to attend a Denver offline, if that is the region of Colorado in which you live. I'm not sure you need space for more than 10x what you think you will ever need, but definitely 2x more than what you can possibly afford.
Another welcome.

And a disagreement with some of the posts above FWIW.

I don't know your construction constraints. If you're carving your cellar out of mountain rock, then the size really matters. But if you're making a space in a basement or something of that nature, bigger or smaller isn't really going to make a big difference.

So I'd make it 20 or 30 times what you thought you want.

If you have say, 20 bottles of wine, doubling your space gives you 40. If you have 100, doubling your space gives you 200. There's no point in building a cellar if you're going to store only that many bottles. You're better off buying a wine fridge.

You store wine because you want it to mature and improve. If not, just buy the current vintage. So if you're going to store your wine, do you want to store a dozen bottles for 20 years and then start again? Makes no sense.

So if you're building, build something that can store a thousand or two or three or four or more bottles. The cost isn't really all that much different, unless you really trick it out and make custom racks etc. But that makes zero sense to me. I have a fridge for food. I don't spend time inside of it or open it to stare lovingly at the contents. Same with a wine cellar. It's a storage closet. So make it big.

And remember, you don't have to fill it and you don't have to use it exclusively for wine. You can store fruit or meat or whatever in there if you have too much space. Cool storage is always useful.
Wow. Thank you for all the great advise. Sorry for the absence, I thought I have signed up to receive notifications for the thread.

Regarding the cellar, I am still nailing down my temperature swings and humidity. I have decided that I am actually going to build a five sided enclosure that will be about 10x10 and about 4 feet tall. Enough room to sit, but not stand as that would require substantial digging, permits, possible floodplain hassle, and I am not into that. We may someday finish the basement, so I am definitely going function over form here. There is only about 6 inches or so of the basement cinder block that is above ground, so temperature stability has been pretty decent.

Totally agree on the amounts of wine. I have wiggle room in the depth and width, so I am looking to build for anywhere between 500 - 1000 bottles. I haven't looked at storage options as far as shelving, so I am sure that will make a difference. I am not sure if it makes sense to start looking at shelving before I finalize the dimensions and frame the space. Any advice on that is appreciated.

I am currently storing about 4 or 5 cases in the area I intend on using for the cellar/huge wine cooler. I should mention that of those wines in storage, only three - five of those will likely be consumed before the end of 2014. I also have a few large formats that I keep down there, my prize of which being a SLWC's 1985 Accord in the 3L format. Too be honest, though, that is not likely to last too much longer. I think it is long enough in the tooth, even for the 3L. What I mean is, I am cellaring for the long haul.

I look forward to jumping on some other threads on the forum and thanks again for all the great advice. I'll also look into the Denver Off Lines. My wife and I are in Vail, so we will likely hold-up in the mountains until springtime.
The measurements are in. I can safely build my structure at 10'6" x 10'6" with a 4'3" ceiling. I would be able to build my walls anywhere up to 10" thick and would allow for a ceiling with 3" of room for insulation before I hit the joist above. Still nailing down humidity and temperature. A storm rolled in that dropped the temps to 17-33 for the next couple days. That should help me get a low point. It doesn't seem to ever get higher than 62 when it is hot out. I am optimistic that temperature control will be fairly easy. Keeping the humidity up in CO might be another story.
It definitely makes sense to think about shelving before you've built it because the shelving will determine how many bottles you can store.

Bins offer the max, shelves the second, and individual racks the least. However, given your height constraint, I'd go with individual racks because taking a bottle from the bottom of a bin is a pain and you're not going to have a lot of space to move around. Individual racks are easier, although you lose a lot of potential space.
Thanks for the input GregT.

I have actually been leaning toward the diamond or diagonally bisected style bin storage (similar to those on wineracksamerica's site. I did not think if storing my collection horizontally in those bins, I would have an access issue. I will continue to use cellar tracker with the barcode option to track my bottle location and consumption. If my measurements are anywhere close to correct, I should be able to configure, at a minimum, seven 3x3 bins with another 12 - 18 inches on top or below, depending on how I install them. That should also leave me with a little bit of additional spacing to occupy as I see fit. Since I am looking for storage for at least 500, up to 1,000 bottles, I think I am looking pretty on par. Assuming I had all the bins completely full and had no extra storage, I would be looking at around 650 - 700 capacity. In the end I hope it looks closer to the 1,000 bottle mark. I believe I would still have some room for vertical racking for storage of my single bottles.

I would be happy with the diagonal shelving from the top of the unit down and then room for case and other miscellaneous storage below the diagonal bins.

What do you think, am I way off base?

On another, and sad note, the 1999 Quintessa I opened to celebrate my wife's best friend/brother's girlfriend's arrival to Denver had turned. I knew it was getting a bit advanced in years, but I don't think the "Cellar Selections" of the liquor store we visited in Crested Butte were maintained properly. Haven't heard back from the shop and don't intend to call Quintessa until hearing back from the shop. Bummer...We next erred on the side of caution and opened a 2009 Nickel and Nickel Tench Cab instead. It was delicious but I would have obviously liked to leave it downstairs a while longer. We decanted for about 2 + hours before slurping it down.
Quintessa from 1999 shouldn't be anywhere near past time - that wine can go for a while. So you must have had a bad bottle.

The diamond bins are efficient for space. My uncle had them under his house in Napa and I built one side of my cellar with bins. That's why I wouldn't do it again. Taking out a bottle from the second row from the bottom is a pain! You have to hold all the other bottles so they don't fall, and if you have Burgundy or Rhone shaped bottles, they don't stack well at all - it's very precarious to take out a bottom bottle!

They're great when you get a case and can just fill up the bin though.

Colorado has flood plains? Who knew? Wink
Greetings all:

So after the full winter came and is now going. It appears that the basement space where I am building my cellar gets no lower than 49F at the coldest and no warmer than 62F at the hottest. Humidity stays around 40%.

Knowing that my temperatures are not fluctuating too greatly, I am wondering if i can get away with building an insulated room with no temperature control. Obviously, I am not going to need an air conditioning unit. Is a temp of 49F for two months of the year enough to warrant worrying about the heat?

P.S. Quintessa replaced that rotten 1999 with an '08 from their library. Anyone tasted the 2011 yet?
Welcome, Braden. I've spent a lot of time in Colorado over the last 7 years. I was in Vail last summer and will be in Colorado for much of a one month trip this summer. I've only found one winery in the state I'd call good. Colterris. Have you ever tried their wines? By the way, they also have peach orchards producing the best peaches I've ever tasted. Will make a return trip this summer.
quote:
Originally posted by Parcival:
Pretty good temp range. . . might want to up the humidity to the 60-70% range if you are planning on cellaring things for many years.


49-62 F is great! Humidity is near 100% inside your bottles. If you turn them once a year... I mean... Yes, if you are 30 now and are cellaring wine to drink when you are 80, I would invest in a humidity regulator to get the humidity up there. I would also invest to keep the wines at 55 degrees in that case. But if you're turning the wines once a year and not planning on cellaring anything longer than 25-30ish years, I think you're set.

(And no, do NOT worry about 49 degrees being too cold.)

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