The Wine Cellar
I'm happy to report that our remodeling priorities are in good order.
Our 100 year old craftsman-style fixer is only three years into its
rebirth, and already it boasts a new workshop, a home-theater, and a
wine cellar. (This is a homeowner remodel - no hired contractors here.)
Trissa has her fingers crossed that the kitchen will be next.
I admit to having nearly zero knowledge in the wine department.
Becoming a wine expert, I've realized, requires years of attention and
dedication. But all expertise has a starting point, and ours begins
with a nearly empty 300 bottle-capacity basement cellar built from
The cellar is a basement room that measures 6 feet by 5 feet. It is a
passive cellar (no cooling or heating equipment) and is well insulated
to help attenuate any major temperature fluctuation. The room is
situated in the corner of the basement and has a temperature-related
concern in that the ceiling is also the floor of the front porch to the
house, which is fully exposed to the elements. But, on this year's
hottest summer day the cellar temperature reached only 58 degrees. And,
as I write this in the dead of winter, the cellar thermometer reads 42
degrees (a bit too cold; I'm considering a ceramic heater running on a
thermostat to maintain an even 52 degrees.) If I were to do it again,
I'd use sprayed-in foam insulation for an R-value boost in lieu of
fiberglass batting. I used Icynene-brand foam insulation (our single
outside contractor experience) in the theater and it's pretty nifty
Several of the details that make the cellar interesting involve the
materials I used. All of the wood used for racking and trim is fir that
I recycled from old-growth 2x4s salvaged from a wall I removed
upstairs. I spent more than a few evenings ripping this lumber into the
five hundred five-sided sticks needed for the south rack. The west rack
doubles as a counter and has a self-poured concrete top. The
north-facing interior wall has an inset "window" that frames a mural of
the Seattle skyline, painted by my sister.
Finally, the door on the east
wall is a vintage Victorian piece purchased at a salvage yard for $250.
It came with seven layers of paint which I removed over a two month
period. About a month into this chore I got smart and disassembled the
door entirely into its component pieces; this speeded the stripping
work and resulted in a much stronger door in the end.
For me, constructing a wine cellar served several purposes. As one of
the first projects in our remodeling master plan, the cellar was a
small project that enabled me to hone some of my basic carpentry
skills. As a "theme room", it is a great conversation piece - our
friends and neighbors who live their lives without wine cellars are
very curious and always impressed with this room. (Those same folks are
recently more interested in our now-complete home theater…) In the long
term though, the cellar promises to supply our dining table with an
endless supply of good wine, and to be the focal point of our new hobby.
Check out the rest of our wine cellar pictures, here!