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The following questions will help you think about your wine cellar requirements and hopefully trigger some ideas about your specific needs.

Cellar Capacity

Background:  Wine racking will typically hold about 9 bottles per square foot of wall space.


Do you have a collection of wines now?  If so, how many bottles?

Is it a constant or a growing collection?

What is the expected total capacity?

What type of collection should we plan for? 

  • % of 750ml

  • Champagnes/Burgundy

  • Magnums

  • Splits

  • Large-format and others.  Provide diameter of any odd-sized bottles.

Is your wine cellar intended to be primarily a “showcase” or are you looking to maximize storage positions?


Environmental Control


Background:  A consistent cool temperature is best for aging wines.  A temperature of 58 degrees is ideal in Florida for aging fine wines.  70% humidity is ideal for preserving corks.  Cooling systems designed specifically for wine cellars typically retain 55-65% humidity. 


Is your cellar a passive cellar (not needing a cooling system)?

Is your cellar one requiring consultation on the proper insulation and the right cooling system to regulate the temperature and humidity?


Cellar Layout


Background:  Safe, sturdy racks are typically 13” deep.  Walkways in front of racks should ideally be 36”.  Square rooms provide the most options for unique features – niches, waterfall racks, rounded corners.


Do you want racking to the ceiling?   If not, do you want to stop at 7 feet? 8 feet?

Do you want a rolling ladder to reach top rack locations?

What kind of racking do you want?

  • Individual Racks – standard 750 ml, Champagne, Burgundy, Magnum, Splits, other

  • Display rows – high reveal display allows label to show.

  • Square corners or rounded corners

  • Waterfall racking

  • Diamond bins
    9 bottle or 16 bottle diamond bins?
    Diamonds are good for storing dessert wines that are too thin for individual bins.

  • Wooden Case Bins

  • Rectangular bins/card board case bins

Do you want an island counter with bottle storage underneath?

Do you need double-deep racking?

Is a Stemware rack needed? How many stems?

Do you want drawers in the decanting area?

Should we build in a Cigar Humidor?


Racking medium


Background:  Racking can be the traditional “cork forward” wooden racks or the more contemporary “label forward” metal racks. 


Wooden Racking


Background:  Wine Cellar racks are traditionally created from Redwood.  The superior grade Clear All-Heart Redwood provides a more consistent color and wood grain appearance than you will find with other manufacturers’ Premium All-Heart Redwood.


If you are thinking of a dark stain, you would likely order racking in a less costly wood (Poplar, Birch or Pine) and apply the stain.


What kind of wood do you want for the racking?

  • Clear All-Heart Redwood

  • Mahogany

  • Walnut

  • Ropala

  • Western Red Cedar

  • Cherry

  • Birch

  • Pine

  • Other


Do you want the racks stained or painted?  Do you want a lacquer finish?  Matte or gloss finish?


Metal Racking


Do you want "label forward" metal racking?  Single, double or triple deep?

Do you want the racking to be double sided to show through a window?

Some metal racking is "cork forward".  Is this of interest?

What color racking do you want?  Satin Black, brushed nickel, chrome, acrylic or custom?



Background:  Doors for a climate-controlled cellar should be exterior grade doors at least 1.5” thick with at least a R5 insulating factor.  Door should have full weather-stripping.


What kind of door are you envisioning?

  • Solid Wood
    What kind of wood – Redwood, or other?
    Do you want a window in the door?
    Do you want the door carved?

  • Full light door - Do you want glass etched, beveled, or a stained glass design?

  • Wrought Iron door – make sure that the iron is hinged or is removable so that glass can be cleaned!




Background:  It is best to plan for the aesthetics of your cellar during construction.  Adjustments must be made early to allow for thicker walls for stone accents or tile murals.  Extra plumbing may be needed for a sink.


Step down into cellar?

Do you want a decanting niche? If so, what kind?

  • Arched, square, stair stepped, fluted columns,

  • Solid or latticed sides

  • Double-deep counter?

Do you want shelves for displaying decanters or art pieces?

Do you want a tasting table inside the cellar ?

Do you want openings in the racking to showcase art pieces?

Do you want wall art – murals, tile mural, etc?

Do you want a sink inside the cellar?

Do you want any floor medallions?

How do you want your ceiling – flat, barrel, beamed, covered with tongue in groove redwood, faux stone, etc.?

Do you want your walls textured or stone covered walls in non-racked areas?

Do you want traditional crown moldings or a more contemporary square molding?




Background:  Lighting can make a huge impact on the impressiveness of the cellar.  Planning for electrical needs early will reduce the change orders needed later in the construction process. 


Do you want LED display row lighting?

Do you want a hanging light fixture from the center of the cellar?

Do you need sconce lighting on walls or racks?

Will you use can lighting?  Consider use of Air lock fixtures to avoid condensation.

Do you want to use lamp lighting on your decanting niche?  .

Do you want the lights to go on when the wine cellar door is opened (door hinge light switch)?

Do you want the overhead lighting and display lighting switched separately?

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