Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

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John Flanagan
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Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#1 Post by John Flanagan » January 15th, 2020, 4:20 pm

When I recently lived in California, I built a rudimentary cellar in my garage from 2x4s, plywood, lots of insulation, sheet rock, and a window air conditioner. It stored ~600 bottles, cost about $1200 in materials, and the $100 A/C unit kept it at ~58F year round. Even when the garage was hitting 95F. Since my move to NJ, my wine has been stored offsite, but I’d like to get it all moved in to my new home to avoid the storage fees. So, I had a wine cellar builder give me a quote for converting a large closet space in the basement to a 1000 bottle cellar. Bid was $35k, which is really hard to swallow considering I spent $1.3k to build a practical version in my garage (plus I’ve renovated bathrooms and kitchens for less than this, so I don’t see how they justify this charge). Current garage doesn’t have the space to build a new plywood box, so basement is the only option. Since the basement is nicely finished, I also can’t build an ugly bow of my own creation.

So, I’m wondering what others have done for storing larger wine collections at home. Is the current bid to build a cellar exorbitant, and if so, does anyone have recommendations for cellar builders in the NJ/NY area? I was thinking of just buying four or five 200 bottle wine cabinets, which seems cheaper than building a cellar, even if I include putting new flooring and decorations in a room in the basement where the cabinets will go to make it look like a wine cellar. Insulated doors and an A/C unit for one of the rooms in the basement with cheap racking?

I’m interested in anyone’s experience with storing this much wine at home.

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#2 Post by cjsavino » January 15th, 2020, 5:07 pm

We ran into a similar issue in our house in NJ. Ended up having a contractor pour a slab with three outlets on their own circuits. The pad was so we had a level floor area. Have three units side by side
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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#3 Post by Bill Johnson » January 15th, 2020, 5:18 pm

Wow, John. What $100 AC did you use to cool to 58F? I can only cool to 64F from an ambient temperature of 70F in my large wine room (holds 2000+ bottles) without the unit freezing up, and the AC I use even has a defrosting mechanism.

Re installation: Labor is very cheap where I live, but converting a closet to hold 400 bottles @ 55F cost me more than $11K including a Cellarpro and wine racks. I understood the bid when I saw how much time it took to do the job properly.

stefan
Last edited by Bill Johnson on January 15th, 2020, 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#4 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » January 15th, 2020, 5:19 pm

There are a few wine room options that might work, the bild and a vintage wine cellar one

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#5 Post by John Flanagan » January 15th, 2020, 6:34 pm

cjsavino wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 5:07 pm
We ran into a similar issue in our house in NJ. Ended up having a contractor pour a slab with three outlets on their own circuits. The pad was so we had a level floor area. Have three units side by side
Hey Chris, I was wondering about this. Do the wine cooling units really pull that much power? I have a wine cabinet with a whisperkool on a circuit shared with other low voltage appliance (e.g. a TV) and the lights never dim when the unit turns on. I would think that 3-4 units sharing a circuit would be fine. The cellar builder argued that a cooling unit for a cellar needed it’s own circuit, and the electrical work for building the cellar was costly. However, I’ve had new circuits put in my old home far from the breaker box for a few hundred bucks each.

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#6 Post by John Flanagan » January 15th, 2020, 6:41 pm

Bill Johnson wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 5:18 pm
Wow, John. What $100 AC did you use to cool to 58F? I can only cool to 64F from an ambient temperature of 70F in my large wine room (holds 2000+ bottles) without the unit freezing up, and the AC I use even has a defrosting mechanism.

Re installation: Labor is very cheap where I live, but converting a closet to hold 400 bottles @ 55F cost me more than $11K including a Cellarpro and wine racks. I understood the bid when I saw how much time it took to do the job properly.

stefan
Just a standard Kenmore unit from Home Depot. The “cellar” was standard 2x6 framing with fiberglass insulation. I then put foam insulation boards over that before hanging the drywall. The entire box was around 500-600 cubic feet, so probably much smaller than your wine room. I pulled the thermistor away from the unit to help it cool below 60F.

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#7 Post by GregT » January 15th, 2020, 7:39 pm

John - you're in NJ with a real basement? You can do what you did earlier and if you're not comfortable doing your own exterior covering (sheetrock, wood, tile, whatever,) you can hire that part out. It's not that hard to do really and if you've built one already, you can save a LOT of money doing it again. The contractors know that most people don't know which end of a screwdriver to hold, so they charge accordingly. I built my own in Brooklyn but then I pretty much renovated the entire brownstone myself.

You can get the smallest AC at Lowe's or HD. It will be more than adequate for most cellars. I put a dedicated circuit in for the cellar lights and AC. Once your room gets pretty cool, the unit won't cycle on continually. And you have plenty of humidity in NJ.

Good luck.
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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#8 Post by JWalter » January 15th, 2020, 7:48 pm

I live in a high labor cost market but I’m getting the same $35k quote. Can get down to $20k if I provide the cooling unit

What cooking unit does everyone recommend for a 10x8x8 cellar?

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#9 Post by John Flanagan » January 15th, 2020, 7:59 pm

JWalter wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 7:48 pm
I live in a high labor cost market but I’m getting the same $35k quote. Can get down to $20k if I provide the cooling unit

What cooking unit does everyone recommend for a 10x8x8 cellar?
This also blew my mind. Electrical and cooling unit is nearly half the quote. Does it really take $15k worth of equipment to cool a room in a basement? I don’t want to get in an argument about the fragility of wine, but spending that much to maintain a constant temp seems ridiculous.

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#10 Post by John Flanagan » January 15th, 2020, 8:02 pm

GregT wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 7:39 pm
John - you're in NJ with a real basement? You can do what you did earlier and if you're not comfortable doing your own exterior covering (sheetrock, wood, tile, whatever,) you can hire that part out. It's not that hard to do really and if you've built one already, you can save a LOT of money doing it again. The contractors know that most people don't know which end of a screwdriver to hold, so they charge accordingly. I built my own in Brooklyn but then I pretty much renovated the entire brownstone myself.

You can get the smallest AC at Lowe's or HD. It will be more than adequate for most cellars. I put a dedicated circuit in for the cellar lights and AC. Once your room gets pretty cool, the unit won't cycle on continually. And you have plenty of humidity in NJ.

Good luck.
Did you ever looking in to hiring specialized contractors for different portions of the build? It seems like it would be cheaper than a cellar builder to hire someone to demo and spray insulate, someone else to do the drywall, another guy for tile, etc.

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#11 Post by Bill Johnson » January 15th, 2020, 9:27 pm

CellarPro has a wide range of modestly priced units, both one piece and split. Some of them should be very good for what have in mind.

If you you have a place to vent the exhaust you can even use a portable AC. I use a DeLonghi Pinguino that costs around $350. But I can only cool my 1100 cubic feet not very well insulated space to around 64F without running into problems. That temperature works for me because I have 55F storage for 400+ older or special bottles and, being seventy something, I want my younger wines to age quickly.
stefan

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#12 Post by GregT » January 15th, 2020, 10:23 pm

John Flanagan wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 8:02 pm
GregT wrote:
January 15th, 2020, 7:39 pm
John - you're in NJ with a real basement? You can do what you did earlier and if you're not comfortable doing your own exterior covering (sheetrock, wood, tile, whatever,) you can hire that part out. It's not that hard to do really and if you've built one already, you can save a LOT of money doing it again. The contractors know that most people don't know which end of a screwdriver to hold, so they charge accordingly. I built my own in Brooklyn but then I pretty much renovated the entire brownstone myself.

You can get the smallest AC at Lowe's or HD. It will be more than adequate for most cellars. I put a dedicated circuit in for the cellar lights and AC. Once your room gets pretty cool, the unit won't cycle on continually. And you have plenty of humidity in NJ.

Good luck.
Did you ever looking in to hiring specialized contractors for different portions of the build? It seems like it would be cheaper than a cellar builder to hire someone to demo and spray insulate, someone else to do the drywall, another guy for tile, etc.
Nope. None of that stuff is all that hard. I had flooding problems and you might, so use cement board instead of sheetrock. People use sheetrock because that's all they know, but it's no good in a wet environment. So at least on the bottom, use cement board. It's made for wet environments. It comes in 3x5 sheets.
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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#13 Post by Andrew Gold » January 16th, 2020, 6:56 am

Hard to know specifically how to help, though it sounds like the cooling option quoted is overkill for the space etc. My gut tells me that the contractor prices in split or ducted systems vs a through the wall option. You could ask about a through the wall approach, which I'd expect would peel a substantial amount off the total cost. If that figure is still too high, it would seem to me your options are to talk with other outfits, scale back expectations, or do it yourself.

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#14 Post by Mark Golodetz » January 16th, 2020, 8:55 am

A couple of thoughts
1. A friend used an AC unit in his basement for several years, and I was never impressed at how the wines matured. AC removes moisture so not surprisingly the older bottles had a problem of being dried out. Not all of them, but a significant percentage.

2. I use board member Chris Kravitz. Perhaps not cheap, but incredibly good and conscientious
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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#15 Post by David_K » January 16th, 2020, 9:11 am

I was in a similar boat where the pricing just didn't make sense for the small size of my space. So I decided to make it passive storage for everyday stuff, bought a Eurocave for the good stuff at home, and the rest offsite. Still a work in progress in getting every wine to the right place but it's getting there. It's not perfect but it works.
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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#16 Post by Ian H » January 16th, 2020, 3:54 pm

I hired a company to put in two separate wine closet type cellars in my basement into unused spaces. Both have cellar pro cooling units and custom glass doors. Smaller capacity than what you're quoting, but cost sounds in the ballpark of what you quote based on what I discovered when doing this.

I also have passive storage part of basement, and temp and humidity generally good (in New Jersey). It does fluctuate a bit so I'm not storing anything amazing in that part of the room but does the job.
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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#17 Post by JWalter » January 16th, 2020, 6:56 pm

I’m leaning towards a hybrid of DIY with some contractor help. Seems like the right balance.

I’m sick of juggling wines between half a dozen different storage options. All of which are high quality just annoying and hard to keep track of stuff

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#18 Post by Randy Bowman » January 16th, 2020, 7:11 pm

If you have minimal building skills these people can set you up from design and cooling to racking.

https://vigilantinc.com/wine-racks/index.php
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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#19 Post by David Glasser » January 17th, 2020, 4:47 am

I built a 1900-bottle walk-in wine cellar from a kit similar to these:
https://vintagecellars.com/collections/ ... wine-rooms

I’m not very handy but no construction skills were necessary beyond ability to use a screwdriver. It took two people to handle the heavy pieces. You need to be sure the large pieces will fit through doors/around corners to get to the space. There are lots of pieces to screw together to assemble the racks. We needed an outlet in the right place and it didn’t cost much to hire an electrician to put in a circuit for the chiller and some lights. We had 2 chillers on 1 circuit with no problems over 25 years.

Looked fine in our finished basement.

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#20 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » January 17th, 2020, 12:25 pm

Did it hold 1900 bottles?

I’m pondering one of these wine rooms as sort of a personal offsite, probably the 2600 btl.

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#21 Post by David Glasser » January 18th, 2020, 9:59 pm

Mich@el Ch@ng wrote:
January 17th, 2020, 12:25 pm
Did it hold 1900 bottles?

I’m pondering one of these wine rooms as sort of a personal offsite, probably the 2600 btl.
I doubt it. It was advertised that way but these things never hold full capacity in any practical way. I suspect it could have come close with cases stacked on top of the shelves rather than a single layer of bottles and cases stacked on the floor against the wall opposite the door.

I never had more than 1500 in it and there were still a few dozen open slots. IIRC there were slots for about 1600, plus room to stack on top. Mags and fat Champagne bottles had to go on top.

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Re: Need Help Deciding on Wine Storage Options at Home

#22 Post by Paul Jaouen » January 19th, 2020, 7:40 am

That quote seems awfully high. You could contact Chris Kravitz at chris@custom-wine-cellars.com for a quote.

I had a contractor build mine when he was doing a lot of other work on my house and garage. Chris did the racking though. And he's been great when I've had issues with my cooling unit.
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