Residential Wine Cellar Design For Ann Arbor's Climate

If a wine refrigerator just won't do, it may be time to build a wine cellar

If you love wine so much that you consider yourself an oenophile (dedicated connoisseur of wine) you'll want to consider a wine cellar as part of a remodel in your Ann Arbor home. If you're not sure what you need to know to consider hiring a builder to protect your liquid investments we've got a few wine cellar construction tips for you.

Your wine cellar design should take into consideration humidity, temperature stability, ventilation, darkness, and security. Here is our expert advice for deciding how, where and what's required when building a wine cellar. 

Wine Cellar Design - Location

Wine is a living breathing thing. It needs constant temperature and just the right amount of humidity to reduce keep corks and all the other properties that make wine enjoyable. The best temperature is between 55 degrees and 57 degrees with the humidity levels at the same number, 55 to 57 percent humidity.

Therefore, basements are the ideal place for wine cellars since they are a bit like caves and tend to have a more consistent temperature and the humidity can be maintained without too much trouble. If you do not have a basement, a remodeling expert like Forward Design Builders can turn a portion of your home into the perfect wine cellar.

What Are The Attributes of Wine Cellar Design

When homeowners think of wine cellar design they often think of racking systems, an opening station, a wine barrel table, and an interesting door and though these items bring beauty to your wine cellar design, none of them protect your wine. So, what does a good wine cellar need that will provide wine protection? Several elements come into play when designing such a space in your home.

Vapor Barrier
Construction of a wine cellar begins with a proper vapor barrier. A vapor barrier keeps moisture from getting into and out of the room from the area outside it, whether that is other less climate controlled rooms or even the outside. A good vapor barrier is vital because a wine cellar must maintain that constant temperature and humidity to keep the wine from turning bitter when its aging process is interrupted.

Most vapor barriers are made from wrapping plastic sheeting on the interior walls. Forward Design Builders can make sure this is done properly.

Cooling Unit
Next, you will need a cooling unit. Of course, you aren’t going to run out to your local hardware store and pick up the window air conditioning unit that is on sale. You will need a specialized wine cellar unit that keeps the room at the optimum temperature and humidity levels. Your design specialist can guide you in getting the best unit for your space. Most cooling units come with built-in humidity management systems, but if not, you will have to get a separate humidity unit.

You will mostly likely want to place this unit on an interior wall, remembering that they can weigh up to 120 pounds. Usually, a wood frame is built around the cooling and humidity system.

Now that you have a vapor barrier and cooling unit, you will need insulation to keep your wine cellar at the perfect levels. Most experts recommend a minimum of R-22 rating for the walls and R-32 for ceilings. Check with your design expert to see if the floor will need additional insulation as well. After the insulation is installed, the room’s walls are covered. Often regular drywall works, but it may be a good idea to plan on using moisture-resistant drywall. Also, make sure you paint or stain those walls with low-VOC paints, so you don’t introduce additional chemicals into the room.

The last element to look in the wine cellar’s design is how the room is vented. If you think back to your 10th-grade weather and geography classes you will remember that as cool air comes into a space, the warmer air rises. In our wine protecting space, we need to remove this warm air, so a proper ventilation system lets this happen while keeping the room at its balanced temperature.

Other Considerations when Designing a Wine Cellar

Once you have the main elements in place, you will finish up the room with doors, floors, and lights galore.

To keep the temperature and humidity steady, the door to the cellar will need to be sealed. An exterior grade door with weather stripping works well. If you have a glass door, it will need to be double paned to have the right sealing properties. Make sure the bottom threshold seals well too.

Many different types of flooring can be found in wine cellars including slate, marble, and even reclaimed wine barrel wood. One sort you definitely want to avoid is carpet. The damp air will lead to mold which will ruin all your hard work.

Most wines like to be kept in the dark, so appropriate lighting is essential. You want to make sure whatever lighting you choose that it has low heat output and no UV rays. Many homeowners like recessed lighting or even LED lights on the racks. To make sure you don’t accidentally leave the lights on, a timer is an excellent addition to your lighting plan.

And finally, you get to the fun part, racking those beautiful bottles.

Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.