Moreover, just about any space you can imagine — from inside a closet and under a stairwell to a small window dormer — can be outfitted for wine storage. But builders caution that some locations may not be optimal. “Ideally, you want your wine cellar to be in the coolest part of the house, and the northeast corner (in the Western Hemisphere) is the best because it’s going to be hit by sun the least,” explains De la Mata of Master Cellars. Next, “you have to figure out where to exhaust the warm air from the cooling system,” he adds, explaining how properly installed cellars can accommodate either a ducted cooling system, like a typical house furnace, or a ductless system, similar to a window-size air conditioner, that ventilates outside the room. Professionals say it’s best to understand your budget and storage needs before deciding on a system that is right for you.

“The cost can vary depending on the number of bottles you want to store,” says Tony Wilke, vice president of operations at Wine Cellar Innovations, a Cincinnati-based company offering cellar design, racking, and cooling services at every price level. “A small closet remodel holding 500 bottles or less can be done for less than $10,000, whereas larger rooms holding 1,000 to 2,000 bottles can cost as much as $50,000 or more,” he says. In one extreme case, says Wilke, the company built a custom cellar holding more than 25,000 bottles that reached the six-figure mark. Appropriately, the company adapted a bank-vault door to serve as the cellar entrance.

One final tip: “Figure out how many bottles you want to store and then add room for a little more,” says Vinotemp’s Hynes, “because if you really appreciate wine, you always end up outgrowing the space to store it.”


Noted master sommelier JAMES TIDWELL shares his tips on creating the perfect wine collection.

How do you stock this shiny new addition to your home? Adopt the steps that I use as master sommelier at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas.

First, familiarize yourself with options. Wine periodicals, websites, and public wine seminars, such as those at the annual TexSom Beverage Conference (, are all valuable resources to determine wines of interest. Next, find wines for everyday use. Your favorite salespeople at the local wine shop know your preferences, so rely on them for recommendations. Then, add wines for special occasions. A wine-cellar consultant can assist in sourcing old, rare, and collectible wines. Sommeliers are often available to consult, or they know other experts who can, so check with the sommelier at your favorite restaurant. Let the classic wines of the world form the base of your collection. While the latest trends in wine are fleeting, these wines stand the test of time no matter their price. In my role as mentor to sommeliers practicing wine tasting for Court of Master Sommeliers exams, I seek enduring and iconic examples of benchmark wines. Following is a selection of classic wines that I would recommend for any respectable cellar.

Krug Champagne, any bottling
Huet Vouvray, any vineyard, mid-1990s and older
Domaine Leflaive White Burgundy, from the basic to the Grand Cru wines
Méo-Camuzet Red Burgundy, from the basic to the Grand Cru wines
Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Rouge or Blanc, any vintage
First Growth Bordeaux, of which there are five; all among the best wines in the world

Gaja Barbaresco (now known as Langhe), any bottling
Roberto Voerzio Barolo, any vineyard, especially since 1995
Allegrini Amarone delle Valpolicella Classico, 1996-2004
Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva
Livio Sassetti Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino, since 1997

Hanzell Vineyards Sonoma County Chardonnay, older vintages
Harlan Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, especially since 2000
Qupe Hillside Estate Bien Nacido Syrah; 1998, 2001, and 2005 are excellent
Ken Wright Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, any vineyard
Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, since 1998

Penfolds Grange (formerly Grange Hermitage) , any vintage
Henschke Hill of Grace Eden Valley Shiraz, any vintage
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay, aged examples
Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling, the most recent vintage

Germany: Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Riesling Spätlese
Germany: Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Rheinhessen Riesling Auslese Gold Cap
Austria: Weingut Bründlmayer Kamptal Grüner Veltliner, the most recent vintage
Spain: Vega Sicilia Unico Reserva Especial Ribera del Duero, a nonvintage wine that is a blend of three vintages
New Zealand: Saint Clair Pioneer Block, any vintage
New Zealand: Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, since 2007
Argentina: Bodega Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard Mendoza Malbec, 2004, 2005, or 2006
Chile: Viñedo Chadwick Maipo Red Wine, 2001, 2006, or 2007

Italy: Avignonesi Vin Santo
Australia: Campbells Rutherglen Rare Muscat Merchant Prince
Portugal: Quinto do Noval Vintage or Nacional Vintage Porto
France: Château D’Yquem Sauternes
France: Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume