In the News: Best Cellars

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Best Cellars


Winter 2006
by Pamela Jaccarino - LUXE

It starts off innocently enough. You develop a passion for a collectible vintage, let's say a ceretto 1998 Barolo Bricco Rocche, and before long your wine acquisitions evolve to the point where you're a full-fledged oenophile in need of serious storage.

"Customized home wine cellars are a hot trend," says Tyson Jones, regional design consultant for Wine Cellar Innovations. "As homes are getting larger and people are spending more time in them, they're investing in specialized rooms that match their lifestyle and hobbies. For our clients, entertaining and wine collecting translates into home design priorities."

When it comes to throwing dinner parties and deciding what's on the menu, now more than ever, Americans are also considering their wines. A recent Gallup poll found that wine has surpassed beer and spirits as the stated drink of choice among those who imbibe. And while serious collectors with respectable collections may be driven to build home cellars for functional purposes (not to mention the investment benefits that storage can yield), more and more, casual wine drinkers with increasingly sophisticated palates are installing elaborate cellar rooms for the show and entertainment factor. What with all the swirling and sniffing and discussing of regions, vintages and food pairings, sharing a bottle of wine can be as much about the social interaction as the beverage itself.

"People want a room to entertain in and, although it's a luxury item, at-home wine cellars are not such a far-fetched idea," says Denver interior designer Pam Kelker of Castles Interiors, who recently designed a 1,000-bottle custom-built cellar for a client in Littleton. "I wouldn't describe them a s serious collectors, but they do appreciate fine wine, food and entertaining." Aesthetics plays an important role in cellar design and most people want their cellars to evoke an aged, European feel. "For this particular home, we built a cellar room in the round using Venetian plaster ceilings, stained concrete floors with bronze tile inlays, brick walls and custom-crafted hardwood racking."

These days homeowners who want a lavish custom cellar complete with tasting tables, all-heart redwood racks, murals and mosaics have an abundance of options to choose from. "We're constantly innovating in terms of wine cellar design. Everything we do is customizable according to the owner's collection, from the racking to the materials used to build the space," says Jones. Beyond the decoration, a cellar must be functional. Temperature and the racking material are critical. "The ideal temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit with a moisture level of 70 percent," says Jones, adding that 75 percent of the wine cellar racks designed by his firm are crafted from all-heart redwood racks. "It's an ideal wood for a wine cellar because it's moisture resistant, which keeps it from contracting and swelling."

Doug Jackson, an estate planning attorney and his wife, Holly, built a custom wine cellar in their new Pradera home. "I was storing my wine collection in a converted closet in my other house," says Jackson, who enjoys cooking and pairing food with wine. "I've always wanted to build a proper wine cellar in my home." The Jacksons' $20,000 cellar, which holds their 1,000-bottle-collection, is designed with faux-painted walls and recessed lighting, painted glass doors and custom racks. A separate lounge area and a stone-arched bar are adjacent to the cellar, which is located in the basement of their home. "It's a beautiful presentation and a great conversation piece. The wine room is an extension of our home that adds a tremendous amount of value."

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