Why underground is not the best location for a wine cellar
When we think of wine cellars, many of us romanticise the idea of the subterranean “caves” similar to those found in Europe where we can hide our bottles away and watch them mature gracefully.
These traditional underground wine cellars have metres of earth around the perimeter and above, keeping the space a cool and consistent temperature, which is not usually the case for underground cellars in Australia.
Most ‘underground’ cellars we’ve seen open into basement car parks and garages so the warm air comes straight in through the surrounding walls. Often with concrete ceilings and without proper insulation and cooling equipment, the end result will just be a “hot box” storage area; not the right conditions for storing wine long term.
Among other requirements, wine requires a constant temperature of 12-14°C and high humidity which is rarely achieved naturally with underground wine cellars in Australia (and certainly won’t be achieved using a standard air conditioner). This means that climate control equipment needs to be introduced, along with a number of technical specifications such as sufficient insulation, protection from light and UV and adequate ventilation to guard against musty smells and label damage.
Now, in order for the climate control equipment to function, it requires air intake and an air exhaust and this can be impossible to achieve if the cellar is completely underground. Ideally, the space needs to include at least one wall that can duct to an external area of the house.
So, if your client has their heart set on an underground cellar, don’t despair… but do talk to an expert during the planning stages. Achieving 14°C is never as easy as people think. Trying to retrofit insulation and a cellar conditioner after building the cellar can be a messy and costly process. Talking to a cellar expert upfront might save you and your client’s money and pain down the track!
About the author: EuroCave
EuroCave has been the world leader in wine storage, service and preservation for 42 years.
We can assist with the technical specifications required to create beautiful, bespoke wine cellars and wine spaces for hospitality, residential and commercial projects. If your client brief includes a wine space, call us on 1800 733 621.