A wine cellar has become a highly desirable upgrade feature in a new home or as a remodel project. Likewise, commercial refrigerated wine displays are often seen as a way to boost revenues and the quality reputation of restaurants and hotels.
As a result, there is a tendency for general home builders and general contractors to offer to build wine cellars for their clients. Unfortunately, there are no building codes specifically designed to address the construction of wine cellars. As most companies will tend to try to keep costs as low as possible, corners can sometimes be cut to maximize profits.
A great looking wine cellar can, therefore, be constructed that will become a disaster after a year or two of usage. A climate-controlled wine cellar is a sealed room that needs to be maintained at a constant temperature and humidity level. Mismatched cooling systems, poorly implemented insulation, missing or no vapor barriers, inappropriate materials, leaking seals, all contribute to two major problems.
Mold is the worst. A poorly constructed wine cellar is likely to be fine for the first year or two — that period where the builder will typically take responsibility for remedial work. Mold is insidious; it gradually creeps up on the homeowner. At first, taking hold in the walls or corners behind racking systems. Often the smell will not be very noticeable as the room itself is kept at a cool temperature.
By the time the mold is noticed it will often have become pervasive covering whole sections of walls, ceilings, and floors. Remedial work usually requires the racking to be removed, walls torn apart, insulation replaced and then everything to the workload of the cooling system the right way. Needless to say, this can be a very expensive process. At the Wine Cellar Designers Group, we believe it’s better to do it right the first time.
2. Failing Refrigeration Systems
A wine cellar refrigeration system is not the same as an HVAC air conditioning system. It is a system that is designed to maintain a constant temperate and humidity level, usually between 50 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit in a sealed room. As such it is more akin to a refrigerator’s cooling unit than an HVAC system.
A cooling system that keeps failing, dripping water, or working all the time, is usually clear sign that the system is mismatched to the room. Bear in mind that it’s not just the size of the room but also the type of construction of the wine cellar that affects the type of cooling system needed. For example, glass walls, large double doors, outside walls, type of flooring and insulation types used can all significantly impact the cooling systems workload.
Every cooling system should have a proactive maintenance plan. Airplanes do not stay in the air because engineers wait for something to fail before taking remedial action. In the same way, the refrigeration system should be regularly serviced:
1. A wine cellar’s refrigeration system is a mechanical system with moving parts that will inherently be working with evaporative water.
2. Wine collections will often be valued at thousands even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Put those two facts together, and you can bet that the cooling system will fail when the weather is most extreme resulting in damaged wine, loss of investment and possibly irreplaceable losses.
Because all mechanical equipment will fail sooner or later, especially those that work with water, a proactive service plan should be a no-brainer for a wine cellar refrigeration system.
What does a wine cellar builder have to do to become a member of the Wine Cellar Designers Group?
- First and foremost, have a track record in building wine cellars correctly
- Have a published portfolio of completed wine cellars
- Have positive reviews from their clients
- Contribute to the promotion of their work through the Wine Cellar Designers Group
What are the benefits of becoming a Wine Cellar Designers Group member?
- Access to wine cellar construction best practices
- Promotion of their portfolio of successful projects and happy customers
- Listings in the Wine Cellar Designers Group directory
- Additional marketing and promotional support