On-Site vs Off-Site Storage Strategy

I’ve just recently gotten seriously into wine and have also started to slowly collect some bottles that I want to age for various amounts of time. I’m currently particularly interested in Bordeaux-style blends and Champagnes that I’d like to cellar for 10+ years. I plan on amassing a fairly large collection over time.

Currently, I have a entry level 38-bottle Frigidaire wine fridge that keeps a consistent 55 degrees for reds and 50 degrees for whites/Champagne but has humidity varying from about 60% (when compressor isn’t running) to about 15% (when the compressor is running). I will soon run out of space in my current fridge (and will eventually get more “nice” bottles for long term aging), so I’m trying to decide if I’m better off investing in a Eurocave or similar fridge or nearby offsite storage (and probably another similar cheaper fridge just to increase my capacity for short term / ready-to-drink bottles).

While I do value the convenience of having bottles as my house, I want to feel good about spending a lot of money (for me) on wine to cellar for 10+ years. Also, while I am largely just buying for pleasure, I wouldn’t mind having the ability able to sell/trade nicer bottles at some point in the future.

So, my questions are:

  1. How long can I keep bottles in my fridge that sometimes has very low humidity?

  2. Is offsite storage more reliable than getting a high-end fridge? What is the smarter/recommended cellar strategy?

  3. If I use offsite storage, how far in advance can I take out a bottle and put it in my onsite fridge? Do you take the bottle out the week you plan to use it? The same month? A year?

I apologize for the novel-length post, but I’m trying to get off to a good start and everyone on this site has been so knowledgeable and helpful, so I figured I’d ask.

Thank you!


  1. I wouldn’t worry about this at all. YMMV.
  2. Depends. Your own power and ability to mitigate loss in event of something happening vs the storage place’s. You can insure your collection if you’re worried about it.
  3. Site to site dependent.

i believe most of us with off-site storage is because we ran out of space at home/office. at some point if you are running many wine storage cabinets at home…electric bill will eventually be higher? also another advantage of off-site is that you won’t open some expensive wine after opening tons of bottles with your friends one night…lol

Welcome Jordan. You’ll get lots of (conflicting) advice here; it’s what we do.

What do you consider a “fairly large” collection? I ask because (a) if you get the bug, you’ll need to double/triple/quintuple whatever number you are conjuring right now and (b) no one wine fridge will come close to housing what most here would consider a fairly large collection. A fairly modest collection of several hundred bottles (modest by the standards here, not in the real world) would almost certainly require at least 2 fridges, maybe more, and, going back to (a), you’ll likely blow past that fairly early.

You don’t mention your living arrangements; are you in a single family dwelling? Do you have space (spare room, crawl space, closet etc) to put in a proper cellar (i.e., no fridge)? I think most here would agree that the optimum set up is a cellar (passive if you can, active if you can’t) large enough to house your entire collection in your home. Several fridges can draw spousal ire, fill up multiple rooms and just generally be a pain in the ass.

Off site storage can be a solution, but be very careful about those with whom you do business. Some here might give you leads if you say where you are living. A number of folks here have trusted their wines to an offsite storage place that then stole all their wine. It happens. Also check on their insurance, backup generators (and if I remember correctly in Sandy a prominent cellar was flooded and a bunch of people lost their wine).

Anyway, that’s my view. Good luck!

Well, I’m still largely in the tasting and learning what I like phase of my new addiction, so my collection won’t grow too rapidly at first, but I think it’ll be reasonable to have 200 - 300 bottles in the next couple of years, and eventually my goal is to always be able to pull a ready to drink / mature bottle from my cellar 2 - 3 times/week or so, while having additional bottles aging for future years, which I think would mean having 1,000 - 2,000+ bottles.

Fortunately, my wife is into wine just about as much as I am, and we have a single house with some extra space (but in SoCal, so no naturally good places to cellar), so I definitely have the physical room to have more wine fridges, but I’m not sure if my money would be better spent on a large high end fridge (or several smaller ones) or offsite storage.

I would definitely look into various offsite providers before selecting one, but I’m open to suggestions as well if anyone has any for Los Angeles area (esp. West Valley or West Side / Beverly Hills).

I know I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but I’d hate to spend $3k or whatever on a wine fridge only to later find out that I’d be better off with offsite storage or vice versa, or hate spending $1,000 on Champagne only to find out that the sometimes low humidity in my entry level fridge killed it after a year or so.

Thanks for your help!

You’ll get lots of suggestions but if you have a spare room, I would insulate it and buy a cooling system. Much more flexible system than cooling units.

Jordan, unless you live in a cooler coastal area, where - if the power were to go out for several days in summer - you don’t need to worry about temps ever getting too high (say, just for sake of discussion, above 80), I would consider at least some off-site professional storage. Most places in California are uncomplicated, with lockers you control yourself (i.e., your own lock, you actively manage what goes in and out). You can typically rent whatever size you need, to fit 10 cases or 100 (or more). It will cost you the rent, of course, but the peace of mind of not having to worry about your wine is worth quite a lot. If you have the space for a decent size cooler in your house, that’s great for keeping wines you plan to drink within the next year, while your long term wines age safely off-site. That’s what I do, anyway.

I think if you have the means and space an at home insulated wine cellar with a cooling unit and backup generator would make the most sense. If your aiming for the 1,000 - 2,000 bottle range a wine fridge wouldn’t be suitable.

I am honestly just speaking from what I personally would want if that size collection was my goal.

Putting in a home cellar only makes sense if you are certain you will be there a very long time which is unusual in Socal. Ive sold a bunch of homes with home cellars here. People walk in, look at the cellar and first reaction is always “Wow! Thats so COOL!” Second reaction? Its always the same too. “How much is it going to cost me to get rid of that?” Dont plan on being able to sell your home to another wine lover. Everyone else will view it as a liability/negative

I’ve had great luck buying and selling wine fridges on Craigslist…

  • got a 180 bottle Eurocave for $100
  • got another 180 bottle eurocave for $200
  • got a 600 bottle la cache for $1000
  • sold the two eurocaves for $600

6 years into this and I haven’t had to get an offsite yet…but ya never know

Wow, I thought I got a good deal getting my 38 bottle Frigidaire open box (with warranty!) for $100, but you’re next level. I look on Craigslist and Nextdoor a decent amount for more good deals, but have yet to find that good of a deal on a Eurocave. I’ll definitely keep on looking though.

Hey Jordan, welcome to the WB family! As someone who recently vacated my offsite storage to relocate my modest collection to my newly completely closet cellar, I can offer a few pointers. First, building a wine cellar, even a small one like mine (170 bottle capacity), can be a huge undertaking both financially and labor/time wise. Since I live in a condo, I settled on a closet since I simply didn’t have more workable space. Many Berserkers have added more sizable cellars to their homes, but on average, these are labors of love and not to be seen as a financial investment. As someone has already rightly pointed out, most buyers, if you decide to sell in the future, are not obsessed enough over wine to pay up for an in-home cellar. I’d say the people most looking for cellars are those on the very high end of the real estate scale (think the 1%). As far as costs go, my monthly electricity bill has increased slightly less than I was paying monthly to cellar offsite, so, in that regard, it is slightly cheaper. A huge plus to having an onsite cellar is, of course, convenience. Grabbing a bottle on a whim is so much easier than driving to and from your offsite and searching for bottles, especially if the offsite is quite far from where you live. A minor downside to having wines at home, is you are more likely to drink them too young (if they require age) because they are so easy to access. Some people have great willpower, while others, such as myself, not quite so much. Hope these tidbits help and best of luck with your collecting and future drinking!

Just as an example … I have room for about 50 bottles at home, and off site storage for the rest. A bigger fridge would be handy but that’s what I have. I end up going to the off site every couple of months to restock, but it’s very close by so not a major hassle. Alan’s fridge - big enough to house a year’s worth of wines - sounds like a better solution. The home fridge of 50 - 100 bottles is a fine way to start though.

Not having to wait around for your wine deliveries is a big plus for offsite.

Since everyone is already talking about on & offsite I will talk about humidity. If your humidity is low as 15%, that will damage the cork and those wines you wanted to age wont age well. Try putting a glass baking dish on the bottom of your frig with distilled water. I find it strange your humidity ranges from 15 to 60%. Mine only moves ±20%.

Jordan - if you’re handy, building your own isn’t such a big deal. People today don’t seem to be able to do their own work so they hire other people to do it and it seems daunting, but honestly, it isn’t that big a deal if you have tools and can use them. Otherwise, building it is going to cost you a lot of money, and people tend to spend on the frivolous stuff, like fancy shelves, that may or may not pay off if you’re going to sell. David’s in the business so what he told you about people taking out the wine cellars is probably true.

In that case, you can get some wine storage cabinets, which run a few grand each. And they don’t hold exactly the number of bottles they are supposed to - that capacity is based on Bordeaux bottle shapes exclusively and packed in a way you will never pack. So assume whatever size they say is about 20-25% less.

Make sure that if you buy, you buy something that can be serviced by a regular fridge guy. If you select off site storage, you’re going to be inconvenienced because you’re at the mercy of their hours. And it’s more real estate that you’re paying for, so if you have a house with extra space, I’d store at home.

And I wouldn’t worry about humidity. Nothing is going to happen in a dry environment - glass is impervious and your cork is not going to dry out. If you’re worried about that, put Saran Wrap over it. Just don’t let the wine get too hot. I’ve known people who keep their wine in an air conditioned room and after ten years, it’s just fine. Keep the temps in the 60s, the lower the better, and you’re probably OK.

I’ve now cycled through all options - I built my own cellar and will again when I buy property, I have had a wine fridge and still do, and I have off site storage. Nothing beats your own cellar.

Haven’t rented an offsite yet but it’s getting close…

I first bought a small 40 bottle fridge and then found a 600 bottle Vinotemp on Craigslist for $250. (Seriously spend some weeks watching craigslist, its amazing the deals you can get). I thought that was twice as big as I would every need! Wrong. It filled within a year. Then I started squirreling wine away in my basement at my Ski house in Utah. Overflowing I considered using my basement here in the Santa Cruz mountains but was concerned about heat. Put a temp monitoring system in my crawl space and discovered peak summer temp down there of 71 degrees so lately have lots of wine stuffed in my crawl space with 0 issues. That’s now about full and now have cases stacked in my garage and my office. With the warm season coming I need to figure out what to do with about 20-30 cases in the house before it gets hot. Watch out its a slippery slope. All this transpired over ~3 years!

Now that you’ve got most of the advantages and disadvantages of the various options spelled out, you have to decide what works best for you. For me, nothing beats the convenience of a walk-in home cellar with double-deep individual bottle slots and room for unopened cases. Two chillers in case for when one goes out so there’s no rush to replace or in case it happens while we’re away. Peak summer temps in our basement are not high enough to warrant a backup generator. Lost power for 5 days in a heat wave once and while the basement peaked at 80 degrees the cellar never got above 70.

Jordan, welcome. Here is my journey, maybe a decade in… At first, I lived in a condo. I bought a 85 bottle glass unit, filled it up. Next I got a Eurocave from WE on sale, 200ish bottles, filled it. Boxes of wine on the floor everywhere. Then I started renting a locker offsite, then a 2nd one. I had moved into a house, and bought a Large 300 bottle standing unit. I acquire more wine. From there, I heard some horror stories about offsite storage… so I decided to build a proper cellar in my house. I still have 1 locker offsite, and both standing units (One died), and a cellar. All pretty much full. Wonderful hobby!

Joe, how many bottles can you fit in that Green Egg? [cheers.gif]