Calgary Herald | Andrea Cox | August 28, 2015 | Link
Wine cellars come to maturity in new home design stage
As a result, personal wine cellars are popping up everywhere from new homes in the suburbs to inner-city condos in downtown skyscrapers.
Much like art, architecture and literature, wine is all about personal preference and so are wine storage spaces. But creating a wine cellar isn’t just about esthetics, it is a comprehensive and specialized process, one that involves expert knowledge, especially if the goal is to lay down high-end wines.
“People spend a fortune on wine collections; the last thing you want is for it to end in heartache,” says Arnel Marchand, owner of Koolspace Wine Cellars, a Calgary-based wine cellar design and construction company that works with several new home builders to design and create custom wine rooms.
And wine cellars have many different personalities. Koolspace is currently designing three comprehensive cellars in the upscale luxury project The River in Calgary’s Mission area.
“They all have different perspectives — one is all about storage, one is a feature glass box in the centre of the great room, and the third is a hybrid of the two.”
Marchand says that creating a wine cellar in a new build home is much less expensive than retrofitting an existing home. Most importantly, it allows for a plan.
“The cost is really reduced to just materials and finishes because you already have the framers, plumbers and electricians onsite,” says Marchand.
And there is the added benefit of getting in on the ground floor. There is an unwavering formula for design — the flexibility comes in terms of location, size, function and esthetics.
“It really helps to plan at the blue print stage. You don’t want to place the wine cellar next to a home theatre room, unless you make extra considerations to negate the sound vibrations, which will harm the wine,” says Marchand.
Regardless of where the cellar is located, the construction considerations are always the same. The goal is to emulate the conditions in the wine caves in France and essentially create a sealed walk-in fridge with high humidity (60 per cent), constant temperatures (between 10 C and 13 C), no UV rays and little or no exposure to vibration. As well, construction materials and finishes (insulation, lacquers, paints and woods) must be zero VOC as off-gasses will affect the quality of the wines.
To achieve the cave-like atmosphere, walls and ceilings must be insulated and have a vapour barrier. The room should contain a drain because of the high humidity and mechanical and plumbing routes and ducting should be considered before construction begins.
And if the room is glassed, Marchand stresses that it should be double-paned and sealed.
“Otherwise, it is like having a baseball-sized hole in a refrigerator.”
Once the basics are put into place, the sky is the limit when it comes to design, from finishes to flooring and racking.
Mark Cayen, designer at Empire Homes and Empire Kitchen and Bath, says that wine storage is a must have in a new home.
“Wine rooms are beautiful and a luxury to have when you have the space and budget to accommodate one,” he says, noting that style preferences range from contemporary to traditional.
As in any room of the home, esthetics are important, and a wine room can take on many looks, from an enclosed private space to a contemporary glass-sheathed architectural art-like focal feature.
“Really the number one factor to think about is whether or not you want everyone to see the room,” says Cayen.
Barbara Kelly, designer at Albi Homes sees a move towards the wine cellar becoming the focal point. “The wine room is no longer hidden in the cellar, but rather out on display, most often behind glass,” says Kelly.
She notes that there is also a shift toward a more casual expression with wine rooms becoming less formal in design, “but still very luxurious in their finishes.”
Costs of a typical wine cellar start at around $15,000 and move upward, depending on the finishes.
But there are more cost-effective alternatives. Albi Homes created a beverage centre in the master suite of the Sorrento 2 show home in Auburn Bay. The design is a great example of how lifestyle melds with wine storage. Owners can enjoy a perfectly chilled glass of wine just steps from their private balcony overlooking the lake.
Similarly, a free-standing cellar in the kitchen or butler’s pantry offers a cost-effective alternative to a built-in cellar. They look fantastic, come in all shapes, sizes, colours and finishes and can be customized to blend with existing cabinetry and counter-tops. Capacities range from as small as 30 bottles to well over 500. Prices start around $900.
“They really look nice, just like a carved piece of furniture and some you can take apart and put together yourself. It’s a great option for a condo,” says Marchand.
Five Tips on Collecting Wine:
Wine guru Peggy Perry, vice-president sales and marketing at Willow Park Wines & Spirits, offers a few tips that will have you swirling, sniffing and sipping like a pro.
1. Collect wines that you love to drink, but don’t limit yourself to current preferences.
2. Be bold. Taste often and make notes.
3. Buy more than you can drink.
4. Purchase your favourites in three bottle minimums: one to drink short term; one to drink when you think it is ready; and one to drink after that (when it really is ready).
5. Source wine from at least six different countries in three price points — around $20, around $50 and at the price point your budget can tolerate for special occasion wines.