Advice for Wine Cellar

Looking for some advice regarding wine cellar space/storage. We are buying a house that has a dedicated “wine grotto.” This area is on the first floor in the middle of the house, near the area by the stairs (I can post pictures of the area, not sure if that is allowed or not). However, this area is not temperature or humidity controlled, and the door that closes it off does not create a seal either (although the door could be changed out to create a seal I believe). My question is there any hope this area could be converted to be temp/humidity controlled? We live in Texas and it gets hot. I would strive to have the temp steady at around 55 degrees. The space is small, but has very high ceilings. Any suggestions welcome!

You can get some temperature and humidity probes to see where the current cellar stands in terms of temp and humidity.

If you’re considering building a cellar do check out Richard Gold’s How and Why to Build a Wine Cellar.

Also analyse the cost of building a cellar and how much capacity you’d get vis-a-vis purchasing an Eurocave. Sometimes depending on capacity building a cellar is more expensive than buying a high-end wine fridge.

To get the 55F in Texas will require active cooling. You’ll get no help from the ground as a heat sink. In may ways, center of the house for you is best since the prevailing temperature influence is the outside and the wine will be as far away as possible. The high ceilings may pose a problem as any cooling solution would be cooling the whole volume.

There are plenty of through-wall active systems that can refrigerate a space, but you need to figure out what the insulation and door seal situation is. If the insulation in that space is not good, then you’re throwing money away trying to cool an area where heat just leaks back in. But if it seems pretty well insulated and the ceiling isn’t too tall, you might be able to find one that works. CellarPro is a good starting point for a cooler brand and they have calculators and data sheets to help figure out what might work for you.

Next, humidity is important as well. Dedicated wine rooms are vapor-barriered on the outside to keep the humidity in. Without it, one of two things will happen: mold will grow in the wall as moist air enters from outside the room and condenses inside the wall as it cools or humidity inside the cellar just moves outwards and is always too dry in the cellar. Tough to say if they added this in your room without inspection. You might be able to see behind a light switch or outlet cover if there’s foam insulation or plastic barrier on those walls.

Finally, if all this seems like too much, you can get a large wine fridge for the space which will have its own insulation, vapor barrier, and obviously a cooling unit. While not as neat of a look as a dedicated cellar, they will certainly keep your wine safely stored.

Best of luck.

As the “grotto” is in the middle of the house you will need to install a split system cooler as otherwise it will cool the “grotto” but vent heat into the rest of the house.

The good news is that by being in the middle of the house the worst temps will be room temp, assuming you use AC that will mitigate cooking the wine, but definitely not optimal storage temp for cellaring long term

Another example of a builder installing a not well conceived “cellar” concept for the wrong reasons.