Wine Cellar Construction Project Qs - Bay Area

I’m looking to upgrade from a large cabinet to a wine cellar/room and I am much too clumsy and disinterested in doing much of the work myself. I might be able to convert an old basement but more likely this will be a room within an existing room or within the garage. Some Qs -

  1. Is it possible to hire one vendor/contractor to manage the project from conception to activation, or will I need to find my own general contractor?
  2. Does anyone have vendor recommendations for Silicon Valley/SF Bay Area wine cellar construction related businesses, esp. a comprehensive service provider as I’m hoping for?

This is 100% for storage functionality (900-1200 bottles), aesthetics basically do not matter to me. I’m willing/expecting to pay more for quality and for project management, within reason.

I’ve read several old WB threads about cellar building and am realizing that this is big project… any help would be appreciated!


Don’t have anything for #2. I used offsite and some simple closet racking when we lived in SF.

When we moved to Seattle we bought a house with a small home recording studio in the basement and converted it to wine storage. For me the dividing line was the racking and refrigeration choices. I got an estimate from a wine cellar specialist. It was turnkey, and I’m sure it would have been beautiful. But the price tag was high, like $25k (in 2010) and I was really just looking for a climate controlled closet.

So we used a small construction/remodeling company and combined it with several other small projects we wanted to do. They were not experienced in cellar construction but we discussed, and they researched a little, and handled the essentials - vapor barrier, proper insulation, etc. and they delivered a finished room with an appropriate door, and a finished opening for the Whisperkool I had ordered. I made the ac decision (for better or worse), measured, ordered, and assembled inexpensive (unfinished to this day) racking from Wine Racks America. So that part was DIY. I want to say the construction project plus the AC, and racking came to maybe 1/3 the $25k. Maybe a little more than that.

So to me, if you don’t want to make any ac or racking/design decisions you probably need a wine cellar specialist. Otherwise you can probably find a good (open minded) general contractor. But you’ll probably have to do some work. I think some wine rack vendors will help you with design.

Scott, like Jim points out, depends on how much you want to spend. You will get something gorgeous and pricey by going with a specialist. We are working on a passive basement cellar in our Portland home-to-be. Husband is a GC with a huge variety of experience and he is doing the research, design, and work himself. Including building wine racks. We just need to get him healthy (current hip injury) so we can go up there and get it done.

When we’re done, I’ll ask him what he would have charged someone for all of it. ha

Bay Area, contact Market Engineering at (415) 446-9759. They are based in San Rafael. Link is here:

Want to do your own install? If you measure correctly, these companies can design and build your cellar pieces for easy install

We have racks from Vivilant at the store made of mahogany. They outlasted the redwood racks we relegated to the store room and added supports to.

Scott, like you I am more interested in the easiest path to the finished project rather than the journey to get there. Without breaking the bank.

We did this about 25 years ago. I bought a walk-in wine cellar kit with 1900 bottle capacity (similar to this but with 2 cooling units) for $5000 and hired a local home renovation guy to put it together. I don’t recall his exact costs because we combined it with finishing the basement but he charged less than $1000 to assemble it. The kits cost more now but this is a simple way to go without having to do a lot of work or planning yourself and without having to pay for the expertise of a wine cellar design/build expert.

If you care about the wines [if they’re substantially better than common table wine], then you need to think about what happens to them when you get, say, a Richter 5+ tremor.

If they’re racked, then they need something like latching doors in front of the racking.

And if they’re in cases piled in stacks, then the stacks need to be in something like a locker so that they won’t sway too far in a tremor.

Of course, tremor-proofing the cellar is going to add a fair amount to the final bill.


Thanks for the tips! Reading more is lowering my fear factor already.

I used Winex and they did a great job.That was in 2000 and I don’t even know if they are in business anymore.

I’ve got a contractor friend who’s done some, from a bedroom converted to a fancy walk in wine room with nice woodwork, to no frills closet conversion. I’ll PM her contact info.

Seems like a couple of routes:

  1. Find a wine cellar specialist who will do a “not fancy” cellar. May be hard in the bay area, as I imagine money + wine lovers = lots of $100K+ projects.

  2. Find a handy contractor, research the basics re insulation, and have him do it, with modest supervision from you. Order racks from Wine Racks America or similar and have him assemble (it’s very easy, but somewhat labor intensive).