Layout my wine cellar

Hope to order racks for my cellar under construction in the next week. Getting quotes from Wine Racks of America and Vigilant. I am struggling a bit with what type of racks (diamonds, shelves, large format, etc) to buy and how to lay them out. For those that have a walk-in I’d like some advice on how to lay things out. Couple of useful notes:

  • Collect some bottles with larger diameters aka Syrah, Pinot Noir and Turley.
  • Don’t collect a significant amount of champagne (have less than a case) currently and not sure I ever will
  • Don’t buy many collectibles by the case - most large quantity is daily drinkers
  • I’m thinking magnum storage in the 20ish range is sufficient
  • Would like one set of shelves for case, decanter, etc storage
  • My thought is having one set of diamond bins for daily drinkers would be good

Here is shape and dimensions after walls are insulated (closed cell foam) and covered:
Any suggestions welcome.

I don’t get the question. Normally you’d put the bigger things on the bottom, as well as whole cases. Those are almost the exact same dimensions I had except my door was on wall 2 and the cooler on wall 4. Then I lost a few inches to insulation on all walls since I used extruded poly, and I built shelves along walls 1 and 3. NOT double deep. Figure about 13 inches off each side for the bottles and then you have room to turn around in there. If you do like everybody else and just do wood studs with fiberglass, you’ll have a couple extra inches. Not enough to matter though.

Organization all depends on what you drink. I laid out my cellar by region, so I could find Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro, south Spain, Bordeaux left and right, N. Rhone, S. Rhone, Austria, Hungary, WA, N. Italy, S. Italy, CA, Rieslings, sweet wines and sherries, other whites, and reds from elsewhere. But that’s just because those are the wines I had. By posts, seems like a lot of people on this board have much more wine from CA as well as Burgundy. I have about three bottles of the latter and while I have a fair bit of wine from CA, we’re on no mailing lists so it’s mostly Cabs, Syrahs, and interesting things that I pick up from time to time but don’t collect. We bought exactly one mag in over 30 years and that can sit quite nicely on the floor.

You would obviously organize differently, depending on what you drink. The only thing I would suggest is that you put the wines you don’t want to drink right away off in the corner at the bottom and make your go-to stuff somewhere around eye level. Good luck.

If it were me I’d just do the entire wall across from the door in single bottle (champagne sized) double deep racking. That way you get lots of storage (i.e. the double deep part) and with it all champagne sized you don’t have to worry about will this 750ml bottle fit here. I also organize by region but that is always changing. I am not generally a fan of bins. Maybe one vertical row of double deep mags racking, or two, if you need xtra. I like to keep my cellar simple, functional, and more focused on storage than looks. YMMV.

Oh, one great tip is to leave the racking height about 10-12" under the ceiling if you have enough height. That then have wood put across the top and you can stash all kinds of wood boxes and/or large format bottles up there. Comes in super handy and with a 8’ ceiling the top is pretty hard to get to for single bottles anyhow.


I’m looking for any advice on what type of racking to buy (ie how many diamonds, how many large format, etc) and how to place what where. I edited my OP to hopefully better clarify.

I found this really helpful:

I actually went with “Champagne” size racking almost everywhere, and that will fit anything from normal bordeaux bottles to large Rhone/Burgundy and “normal” champagne bottles. I would say that fits ~50% of actual champagne bottles, so I wouldn’t get that if you actually wanted it to store champagne bottles. I then got a small corner of magnums (one column, about 10 bottles for me) and an area of “large champagne” racking, which fits Taittinger Comtes, Krug, etc. There isn’t much space savings if you go for regular bordeaux racking rather than champagne racking, and that will ONLY fit bordeaux-sized bottles (not burgundy or rhone).

I’m not a fan of diamond racking, both for difficulty removing a bottle and for earthquake risk here in california.

I would think about double deep racking the entire length of wall 1, and NO racking/storage along wall 3. Your room is fairly narrow, and if you have single deep along both walls, the center will be tight and you’ll be bumping into bottles on one side or the other, with no room to turn around while holding a wood case or the like. Finish the end walls with whatever fits your needs.

Besides giving you a smooth wall to work with, double deep will save you an inch or two v. two sets of single deep due to the neck to punt savings. I’m a big guy, and like a little elbow room. If you are slender it may not be as big of a deal.

I know I am not fancy, but I set an alert for wine racks on craigslist. Got them for pennies and spent the savings on more bottles! They are not absolutely perfect but they are super sturdy and functional and look really good (especially when full!).

I hadn’t really thought of doing the double deep racking but you make a great point. I am slender guy, and wonder if having a double deep on one side and a single deep on the other would be too tight? That leave about 30” between the racks.

What is the recommended minimum “aisle” spacing between racks?

I actually bought my first rack on Craigslist. Been watching it for months but haven’t seen anything else. Also, I want this max storage capacity and I’m worried piecing it together won’t allow that.

There is no way you can do double deep on one side and single in the other with only 54” to work with, and still have room to move. You might think so just looking at the racking dimensions of let’s say 22” deep on the double deep and and a little under 12” for single deep, but wine bottles are typically 12.5 to 13” tall, and will stick out past the edge of the racking. So first, your math is wrong, you’d only have 20” between racks, and in reality, more like 17”.

I love my racks from Wine Racks of America. They hold a decent variety of champagne bottles. Admittedly some are too big, and for those I just set them on top.

Death to diamond bins. I don’t have any, but the previous times this thread has come up, everyone who had them says they wish they didn’t have the diamond bins.

Your max capacity (with good functionality) is to simply rack all of wall 1 with double deep racking. Leave the other walls open. You will have approx 30" of space between rack and opposite wall which is OK to work with (I try for 36" but 30" is fine) so you can get that double deep racking in. If you try to rack walls 2 and 4 you’ll get less wine (unless you make things really tight) and for my tastes it will not look as nice/functional.

I see now the room height is 80" so that is a bit too low to add a high shelf IMHO.

Aha. Diamonds are nice in theory but a pain in reality. They are an efficient way to store bottles if you build them to the right measurements and you fill them. But they’re a serious pain if you want a bottom bottle and you have a full bin of different wine. In terms of space utilization, individual racks are the least efficient. They’re also the most user-friendly.

One way you can save a bit of space that will allow you the equivalent of a few extra racks is to build shelves that hold several bottles rather than only one at a time. If you look at the pic, the standards (up and down) are 3/4 inch. Eliminating one or more by building a shelf for more than one bottle saves you 3/4 inch per bottle. You lose a little going up because the bottles don’t hang through, but for me it was worth it.

Figure at least 13" per bottle on each side. As long as you have about 24 inches to turn around in, you’re good. But you’re going to be coming in through a door carrying a box, so for convenience, you probably want that to be wider than 24". I can turn around easily in 24 inches, but think about it. You’re standing back so you can look at a shelf - you don’t want your face right up into the shelf. And I hate double racking. John is right that the most efficient will probably be to do the one complete wall with double racking, but then you have double racking.

If you want to play, get yourself some cardboard and set it up with a 24 inch gap for yourself to stand in. If you want to cheat a little bit, go to Lowes and take out two large pieces of styrofoam. Have your wife or friend hold them 24 inches apart and see you comfortable you are moving around and racking bottles. It’s not comfortable at all. I would go single deep on each side and leave a nice comfortable aisle. You can put a single or double rack at each of the small ends.

BTW - where is your cooling vent? That will have to factor into your racking design.

I use double deep racking because we store a lot of Ayoub bottles which are huge and champagne. I would do that anyway simply because your tastes may change of you might buy something like Ayoub which come in large sized bottles.

Agreed. We started with diamonds but exactly the problem you described happened as we never had enough of one wine to fill a diamond and always seemed like the wine we wanted was on the bottom of the diamond. It was not cheap to pull all of those out and replace them with seperate racking.

Most of our commercial racking is from Vigilant. Their options are ideal for home and commercial racking. Not knowing how you buy, store/show and drink your wines I would not be able to give you realistic advice. If you look through their installations and products, you can probably figure out what is most efficient for you and work from there or throw your trust and money into them to both design and build your racking. Most of our racking is now 17 years old and sturdy, even after the earthquake in 2014. You can make your own cubes and shelves but if you want individual racking, you can’t can’t build it as cheaply as you can buy it. I own a 10 X 12 individual bottle rack I built out of pine, (now in the store room), that cost a little more than the same rack I bought from Vigilant and took me two days to build and install. There are other rack builders to check out online too which may now be cheaper than Vigilant.

Start here:

I agree that double deep all the way down the long wall is best for max capacity. As far as organization goes, rather than grouping by varietal or region or anything else, I went with putting bottles wherever there is an empty slot and tracking it with CellarTracker. It makes better use of the space and does not require moving things around.

I just built a 12’x12’ to replace my 7’x18’. For the earlier I went utilitarian and got chrome racks at Costco. I fixed them to the long walls since we’re in a quake zone but left them on their casters. I trimmed them with clear Doug fir at the front and ends and let the walls seal the back. I double rowed (and double stacked as required). Each 4’ rack with five shelves had a type or region. I had 4 on one side and 3 on the other to allow a work table in the front. The floor absorbed case purchases and the top shelf was large formats, featured cases, and bric brac.
Total cost for the racks to hold over 2500 bottles was about $750. Over 17 years i had to replace the cooling unit once.
I’m using the same approach with a different layout in the new square. I like the clean look of steel and wood and the price per bottle is hard to beat.
The organization is simple to manage since you can visually sweep the width of the shelf and move your attention easily above and below. I keep all the labels pointing up and spoon the bottles front to back, if multiples (as most are) I have one in front to view and usually double stack the back row with the others. As I pull I refill the front slot.

My major fail always was inventory control. I have CT and at times have been pretty good at logging in purchases but am terrible at logging out. I’ve lost control with this forced move and now have my racks in place but almost 2 thousand bottles in stacked boxes to be reorganized…daunting.

Thank you for the great feedback (and including I stink at math, Chuck, Ha!). I was hesitant on the diamonds for the reasons mentioned, so that is definitely out.

A friend locally suggested I consider an option that would store bottles horizontally along the entry wall and then the double deep on the opposite wall. Any opinions on the various horizontal wall storage options?

FWIW I think any horizontal racking is not going to be very cost effective for the bottles stored. Plus if you do double deep on wall 1, you’ll want that 30" open to wall 3 to work in. You won’t want to be bumping up against those horizontal bottles all the time. 30" is enough space but really not that much to work in. That is where I put boxes to load in later or when problems arise on capacity. I’m thinking you’ll get somewhere between 1,000-1,250 bottles in there with double deep racking on wall 1.