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The Construction of the Wine Cellar

As part of a recent home renovation, we installed an actively cooled wine cellar in our home. While this required some extensive excavation, our house was already being torn apart for the rest of the construction, so it was easier to do at that point than it would have been on its own. The project was done by the excellent team of Barry Stohlman and Pat Kilner of Superior Structures. They were very easy to work with, came in on budget, and had a terrific sense of craftsmanship. Some of the work was detailed in Aaron’s previous post (Taking an Early Peek at Lou’s Cellar) but I wanted to provide a bit more detail on the project.

The entire construction project (including our kitchen work and a number of other things) took over 8 months. The project started with them “cutting out” a section of the house from roof to foundation to prepare for the excavation.

After the foundation was poured, the framing began. The picture below is inside the wine cellar itself. The crawl space can be seen, in which the split cooling system will be housed.

I chose to use closed cell spray foam insulation in the walls and ceiling to an R value of 50 in the ceiling and 30 in the walls (all interior walls). Because the foam expands, the insulation company would not spray in the ceiling around any of the lighting cans. Even though I was using cool LED lights in the ceiling, the danger is that the foam will pull at the wiring creating a potential electrical fire hazard. In those areas where the lighting cans were isolated, we used rigid foam board insulation.

After the insulation was in place, we installed greenboard drywall, behind which we placed a three foot section of continuous plywood in the center to provide a stronger base to anchor the wineracks.

This is what the finished room looked like.

The room was painted and allowed to air for about a week before the racking was installed and the door to the ante room installed.

After the redwood racking was installed, we put four inches of well washed pea gravel on top of the slab. I chose to install four foot high racking around the perimeter for now. Most of the room can take another four feet section as needed in the future. There is also room for a center aisle of racking, and a large alcove to stack cases.

The HVAC company installed the CellarPro system, Model 4000S. Though it’s generally intended for up to 1000 cubic feet (and I have a bit over 1100), I think I’ll be fine given the insulation and expected ambient temperatures. I installed the Weather Direct TX60U-SET Online Temperature and Humidity Wireless Alert System that texts me if temps or humidity go out of range. It also provides a nice spreadsheet of q 15 minute readings.

This is when I started to move the wine in. Notice the rack to the right. It’s intended for my wife’s ease of use if she wants to grab a daily drinker and I’m not home.

This is what the finished product looks like, along with the tasting room, just outside the glass door in the photo above.

Categories: Image
  1. October 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    This is really amazing guide. Not to mention it looks quite easy to build- Of course it’s easier to build only if you have some experience on a similar field. I definitely need to build one as soon as possible, as I’m having problems to find a suitable place for my collection. Especially now, as this year’s wine season is in its full power. Thank your for sharing and enjoy your newly build wine cellar.

    • October 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      I’m glad you liked it Sebastian. I’m very happy with how it turned out and am really enjoying it. Good luck if you decide to go ahead on your own construction! Lou

  2. Chris
    December 22, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Lou. You mentioned well washed Pea Gravel. Any special way or just put in sink and hose off?

    • frenchlm
      December 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      They just hosed it off in the driveway. In many ways, this was the toughest part of the cellar in terms of raw labor. Buckets needed to be hand carried with the gravel. Hope that helps !



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