Cellar--Big Problem

[help.gif] My beautiful 7-year-old cellar is falling apart. The wood/joists holding up the floor have major water damage and are rotting badly. My insurance company says we should replace the whole floor. The question is what to do with the wine during this construction.

Somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 bottles need to be packed up and put in some sort of storage. All the “little” wine storage places don’t have room for anywhere near that number (even Wine Bank). And if I did find one that would take it I have to figure out how transport the stuff there as well as get it picked up when the construction is completed.

I have found one place that is able to tackle this problem; VinFolio in San Francisco (about 50 miles north of my home in Los Gatos). They’ll come and box it up and take it to their storage facility, inventory it and return it (minimum two cases at a time) when I want.

It ain’t cheap! For 4,500 bottles they’ll come and package everything up and take it to their facility for $4,875.00. Then it is $1,265.00 per month for storage. And they will return it to my home for $10.00 a box ($3,750.00 total). I figure (4500 bottles) is a one time charge of $8,625.00 and then $1,265.00 a month.

One interesting side thought is that they calculate everything is liters. A basic unit is 9 liters which is 12 750ml bottles.

So… Anybody have any other ideas? We hope to start construction next week so it has to be quick.

How long will the construction take? Can you turn up the air conditioner really high in a particular room or bedroom? Maybe insulate the walls and ceiling temporarily. If there is a window, put in a window unit. As long as you can keep it under 70 for a few weeks, you should be fine.

If you dont mind temps peaking at 67 degrees for two months in the hottest part of the summer* All Star storage in Sacramento will rent you place than can easily hold your wine for ~$100 to $120 a month.

*In the winter it hovers around 52 degrees and then very slowly climbs up until august. RIght now my tempt is 57 degrees.

Valley Wine Warehouse, a refrigerated truck (easily rented) and some pallets. Getting them in the truck would be an issue without a forklift - unless you hired a bunch of people to load them & palletize in place. Valley would/could unload for you and i’m pretty sure they are much less expensive. I sure wouldn’t want to drive that truck through.

When do you start construction, and how long will it take? Things will remain relatively cool for another month or two. You could also just store the most important of your bottles, that you plan to keep for many years. The early drinkers can easily survive a month at reasonable inside temps. Have a party, invite 20 of us, and we’ll each take 10 cases to store for you for a month. Seriously.

we had a similar problem (rot due to water damage in the part of the house on a raised foundation–all the support of the house) and I found a company who was able to replace the support without moving anything and without disturbing anything including our limestone flooring . . . you don’t have to move the wine if you find a similar company–Tremor Ready in S. California . . . they were amazing . . . www.tremor-ready.com.

Did you try Joe at Subterraneum in Oakland? It’s massive. I don’t know if he offers any moving packages but the space should be no problem.

+1 on what Loren and Alan R say.

Oh wow David, I am so sorry, such a headache. Best of luck through this.

I’ll be right over with my corkscrew and a glass! [cheers.gif] neener

+1 (I’m in SF but my cellar is in Fremont.)

Very sad to hear about your cellar… when I was first getting into wine (not long ago…) I was googling Yquem and found the video of your cellar on YouTube. It was gorgeous! I hope it gets fixed soon!

If the job was going to be on the order of a week or so, I’d be inclined to just rent a reefer truck and park it in your driveway (if you are allowed to do such a thing). The rental plus diesel to run the reefer would not cost you too much, particularly since you’d only need a small box for what is, by my calculations, 8 pallets of wine. If you need boxes, you’ll have to go to a winery or somebody ITB to get some help. If you do have winery friends, you might also inquire if they can get you some temporary space in their warehouse and help you with transport logistics. You’ve got a couple of pieces of potentially big work here - boxing and palletizing, transport, and storage. If you can find guys that will work with the wine in place like Alan suggests, that is attractive. Of course the disaster scenario of an accident there is not something I would want to think about. Ten-ish tons of wine falling through a rotting floor onto a worker is bad all around.

Best of luck,


drive up the hill to Joe T’s and store them in one of his rooms for a few weeks. it the least he can do.

when we had our problem, the first three companies who bid the job–and the insurance company–all felt that the floor had to be removed in order to fix the problem. When I found Tremor Ready, they assured me (and gave references) that that would be unnecessary and that they wouldn’t disturb anything. They did a perfect job. A couple years later, it’s still perfect, as we have it inspected by an independent person annually. You don’t have to move the wine–moving 400 cases of wine and then replacing it would be a nightmare.



One more thought: Do you have a temperature controlled or naturally cool room large enough to hold 375 cases of wine? Since you have to box them it to move it anyway how about a bulk buy of complete 12 pack styro shippers and have them drop shipped to your house. The styro shippers will better insulate the wine and most will hold ice packs if you want to go to that extreme. Carrie thinks you can get them for around $5 or $6 each in bulk, or $1875 - $2250, (maybe even cheaper). Stacked in a room with a window A/C or room that stays real cool, you can save a lot of money on transportation and storage. If your garage stays fairly cool, use it. Lots of concrete for cold. Temporary insulated walls where necessary; window covers with insulation if needed, etc.

If you know a retailer nearby who also does shipping, the would probably help you out with the arrangements. If you were near us, we’d order them for you, but our supplier doesn’t serve your area and it’s a lot of trips for all the styro. The other benefit of going through a retailer you know, he/she might buy them back from you if they aren’t damaged.

The 12 CU shippers we use, (hold chard and most champagne bottles measure 14X19X15.5, (WDH). That translates to an area of at least 11 feet by 16 feet for the boxes to be 10 wide, 16 deep and 3 high, for 480 cases. And, the wine is not out of your control nor jeopardized during transport. Invite friends over to help and you can drink up the extra 15 boxes.

This too is a time consuming, costly alternative.

If the actual “flooring” doesn’t need replacing, then I think the smart move is to find a competent contractor or the company already named, to come in and replace the floor joists.

I think this is the best solution. Pallet storage at VWW is fairly cheap. You could call a moving company and hire some guys through them and rent the reefer truck yourself or see if the moving company could do that for you. For white-glove service, call Western Carriers to do the move, but that will cost you a lot more.

if you insist on moving the wine, there is an easier way: I got this info from Todd Moore, who runs a company that provides refrigerated trailers that will store wine. His largest available trailer has 500 cubic feet of storage and has inside dimensions of 5’8”W x 6’2”H x 14’2”L. It could easily be brought to your house; then just plug it into an outlet.

no affiliation, yada, yada


that [swearing.gif]

If I remember correctly you have a PW cellar? Does it have to get removed as well?

Was the damage caused by condensation?

Is it possible to sister the existing joists with an engineered product (ie. Glulam / LVL).

Geez, David, that totally sucks. I still recall how gorgeous your cellar is and am yet to see another that rivals it. Best of luck getting this problem rectified.

I’m facing a similar but far less severe issue: destroying & rebuilding my cellar, but it only has 900 bottles. Initially I considered wine storage facilities but then got the bright idea to build an interim cellar in my garage, sacrificing one of my parking spaces.

The plan is to reuse my AC unit and sheets of 2" rigid insulation from my existing cellar, and purchase more if needed. Polyisocyanurate rigid insulation boards are very strong, are nearly R-14 for every 2 inches, and are lined on both sides with aluminum. I don’t expect this “box” to be necessarily pretty or easily accessible, but it will work; basically creating a huge refrigerator in my garage. Just make sure your stacking configuration of wine boxes allows for air circulation. I figure one could also add a fan if circulation becomes an issue, but your AC unit’s fan should easily handle it.

I’m quite comfortable doing things like this myself, but for those who are not, this is a pretty basic carpentry project which any contractor who will be doing your main project could easily throw-together. This rigid insulation is available at only select Lowe’s/Home Depot’s or from more commercial-based resellers. I know Home Depot pro in Colma has the 4x8 sheets if you can’t find a place in the S. Bay. Hope this helps.