Question about Cellar Racking

I’m curious why virtually all cellar racking is wood 1x1 and 1x2. It seems to me that there is a lot of wasted space between bottles with this setup, but there are very few alternatives (diamond bins are not an option for me, since 99% of my cellar is burgandy-shaped bottles). Are there advantages to wood racking that you don’t get with metal or some other material?

I made racking using metal, 4" oc grid panel to be precise. I might have been able to pack a but more in using 3.75" but then champagne wouldn’t fit. I’m also in pdx, if you want a picture or to see let me know. Either way it adds lots of bottle storage!

Pictures would be great! Do you have any on a shared site you could post?

I’d love to see, too. Considering building some racks to improve my current setup (don’t ask).

Wire shelving from Costco…

The wire shelving is great and they make shelves that are specifically for wine bottles too, although again, you end up with wasted space.

John - remember that the one inch isn’t really a full inch - it’s 3/4.

I think most people use wood because it’s very easy to work with and you can also get some very nice woods if you care about looks as much as functionality. I’d use wood in a store, because it’s part of the selling experience. At home, I’m only interested in functionality so I care less about looks. Cellar is in the basement and it’s for storage - I don’t hang out in there.

That said, there’s wisdom in the experience of others. From experience, I can tell you that I used something less than 3/4 inch wood. I calculated how much space I’d lose by making individual slots, bins, shelves, etc. and figured that given the dimensions I was planning, I’d get another couple cases in if I shaved a hair off the width of every piece of wood.

By far the most efficient storage system from a space perspective is bins. Those are the worst from a convenience perspective. Plus, Burgundy-shaped bottles don’t stack well - when you take one from the bottom you rock the others and I’m always afraid I’ll break one. So I settled on shelves, similar to the wire shelves shown, but using plywood that’s just a hair thinner than regular one-by.

Big mistake. On one side I have bins made from 1x8s and they’re in excellent shape. On the other side I have those shelves and they’re now misshapen. Even that doesn’t bother me, because as I said, it’s a closet, not a showpiece, but I stupidly also made the shelves very tight to fit in the max number of bottles. So now in a few places, I can’t fit Burg shaped bottles.

In retrospect, best bet is wire shelves like those shown, or if you want to save money, wood. I made my own so the only cost was a few weekends plus the materials - I have a table saw and everything I need to build. But if you use wood, don’t make the same mistake I did. The wire have the advantage of being super easy to put together once you level them.

Also, remember that there are more odd-sizes than you think so plan a couple shelves accordingly. For example, some Beaujolais bottles and some N. and S. Rhones are much wider than a normal Burg but not quite so much as a Turley or Pax. If you plan for mags, those will fit unless you plan for mags of Turley.

Good luck.

Here’s a pretty handy size chart that you can use to make your calculations.

Thanks for the feedback Greg. My first version of racking was building wood shelves and creating “pods” of four case boxes (bought a bunch of the same box, boxes are stacked 2x2 per bin), but the inserts in the boxes aren’t quite holding up, and I’m not completely satisfied in the result. I’ve outgrown my current off-site cellar space, so I’m going to have to upgrade, and I want to rack it out once and forget about it. I also want to be able to remove the racking when I eventually purchase a home and can have the cellar on-site.

It sounds like the choice of wood vs metal is mostly aesthetic. Are there any functional reasons why wood is better than anything else?


Where did you buy extra shelves. All the ones at Costcos have 4 or 6 shelves, you appear to have 14 to 15?


Build as double deep puts 288 (non-fat - Champagne, PN, Turley) bottles in very compact space. MUST be anchored to wall.

Not associated with or shilling for this catalog, blah, blah,blah… I just own two sets of double deep for total storage for 576 bottles.


Please excuse the poor photo quality and the image hosting… not the most proficient at those things…

I made this to nearly exactly fill my available space, which means it won’t make a move with me. I didn’t go double deep as my space didn’t allow for it, though one easily could. Again, I’d be happy to show if off if you were so interested.

I use wire racks - 14 inch depth and 36-48 inch length. Shelf height is spaced far enough apart to allow two rows of bottles stacked on one another.
Wood cases are stored on deeper shelves spaced to allow two case height per shelf.
The shelves are achored to the cellar walls by ancoring plates available for the shelving supplier.
Various finishes are available, I opted for a dark blue rust resistant finish (called “Nexelon”)
I covered the ends of the shleves with a thin fiberglass planks left over from an outdoor deck construction. Many other materials would work fine. This keeps bottles from rolling out the ends.
There are pleated specialty shelves made specifically to hold wine bottles but these are inefficient, only available in chrome finish and in limited lengths.

Here are two suppliers that offer lots of options and add-ons as you assemble a shelving unit:

This is essentially bin shleving. Bolbous bottles can be a problem. I put some of those in open topped wood crates on the shelves spaced to hold crates.

Most awesome. Cover the shelf ends and you can stack the bottles two or three high. Something like this:

my wine is in a closet in the northeast corner of our basement. I made these racks out of 1x10s and they are certainly strong enough to last forever. I constructed each shelf individually from the same pattern, then stacked them on top of each other. The bottom shelf has a 1x2 screwed to the front bottom edge to provide reasonable tilt – there is no problem with bottles sliding out on their own regardless of shape. The whole is held together with drywall screws, and although I did anchor it to the wall,it is not IMO necessary.

Not the height of convenience for removing a single bottle, it is very efficient (about 1000 bottles in 3 units in a 6’x6’ space), and very cheap (approx. US$200 materials overall).

Andrew, They look really nice. Did you buy the grid from Western Wire works and have the frame fabricated and painted? I have a wood shop, so I built mine out of left over fall off, a labor of love, yours look very practical. I made mine as inserts into storage cabinets as the dedicated cellar was pre-empted by other remodeling projects. The metal ones would have worked perfectly in that application.

Steve, That is very clever to keep the Burg and Riesling bottles secure.

Yep. I have 7 different racks. 6 of the 7 have 14 shelves which leave two shelves plus the top that can easily handle magnums.

Shelves can be purchased separately but I’ve never found them for cheaper than just spending the $100-$110 for the full 6 shelf unit.

Get the chrome 6 shelf units rated at 800lbs and you’ll be happy. Takes 2+ to hat to the 14 but WAY cheaper than wood units.

By the way. Don’t even think about using the wheels! You might not be there to catch em as the wheels buckle!!!

todd - wait, you just buy two 6 shelf units and remove the shelves from one and put them on the other?

Which brand did you get? And am I right in figuring that you get about 8 bottles from left to right and have them alternate orientations (so about 16 bottles/shelf?.

Yep pretty much right. I go to Costco and get their 6 shelf chrome racks and have thrown away most of the unused uprights. Can’t remember but each shelf is rated for at least 600 pounds.

Bottle shape is key to determining how many bottles per shelf. My standard is about 20 750’s per shelf.

A couple more views

Guess it would have helped to have uploaded the images…

To each his own, but the biggest advantage to me is the wood looks so much better then the wire racking.
Just the couple pix in this thread make that abundantly clear (at least to me, and no offense to the wire rackers).

I’m seeing a cost vs aesthetics difference. Wire racks are less expensive, but don’t look great, whereas wood is expensive and looks good.

I’m still curious if there are other advantages/disadvantages to the different types of racking. Is there a functional reason to choose wood over metal, or even certain kinds of wood?

I bought the grid from Portland Wire, then welded the frames myself. Everything off to Portland Powder for the powder coating. My cost all in was less than $1 a bottle, which I was pretty pleased with.

For wood versus metal, I think it all depends on the aesthetic you’re going after. I would quickly bristle if anyone said wood looks better than my end product, though certainly understand that people want different things out of their spaces. I just finished a project where we used brazian cherry racking in glass front display cabinets, in that application the wood really sings.