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Wine cellar question

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John F

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Wine cellar question

by John F » Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:53 am

I'm going to build a new wine cellar in our Chicago house. The one I have now is basically all individual bottle racks with some for magnums. I have seen others that have lots of "diamond" storage in them and my contractor on this is pushing them. It always looked to me that you would be rooting around trying to figure out what is in the diamond. It is one hong to fish a bottle at a time in my rack now.... But taking a few bottles off the top of the diamond to see what is below seems a pain. Any thoughts?

Thanks
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Re: Wine cellar question

by Jenise » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:47 pm

Oh yes, lots of opinions. Here's a picture of a small portion of my cellar taken one day when we were in there sorting wines with a little vinuous encouragement.

IMG_0924.JPG
IMG_0924.JPG (52.36 KiB) Viewed 1398 times


Obviously a DIY project but it does the job. I wanted a variety of different sized boxes and liked the way I got some six-pack spaces in addition to the 16 bottle diamonds you see in the back I don't have 16 of anything but the point was to maximize my ability to get about 2000 bottles in a 10x10 room. It works. Those are all older vintage Bordeauxs (2001 and prior) for current drinking , and the slender Bordeaux bottles nest safely together. They're arranged by vintage and though yeah occasionally I want to dig something out of the bottom, most of the wines I'm going to want are closer to the top. When that's not the case, I can extricate said bottom bottle by lifting the immediate bottles above with one hand, removing the bottle I want with the other (no they do not immediately collapse into the empty space if you push back on them) and then inserting a bottle from the top of the pile in it's place. I rarely have to unpack the shelf. We built ten like this for stacking two high (they're bolted into the wall), and they're as useful as we thought they'd be. Diamond boxes do work well for Bordeaux-shapes. A strong plus: bottles don't roll--they stay label-up, as you'd want them.

Now look at the racks furthest right, the smaller boxes (stacked three high) dissected with two interlocking boards that create an X. Those are all Rhones. We built the same type of racks for pinot. MISTAKE. Burgundy-shaped bottles should have a flat surface underneath the bottom row and never be more than three bottles high. We're going to rip all those out this summer and rebuild in shoebox shaped rectangles. We've not had anything break yet but that's a miracle. One earthquake and I'm doomed.

In the corner between the Rhones and the Bordeaux you see yet more bottles peaking through. My husband was going to close in the corners but I couldn't bear to button up that empty space, so we built these narrow-opening corner units for case-lots. Each holds about 16 bottles (too much, we should have put in more shelves). Thing is, I rarely buy cases. So those are all filled with new vintages of Bordeaux awaiting readiness, and overflow stuff that needs aging and doesn't fit anywhere else. Wouldn't be useful for frequently-needed wines, but as a holding area and space maximizer they work fine.

So diamond boxes are good for long bottles but lousy for fat bottles. However, if I were starting over? I'd consider nothing but rectangles or at least a broader mix, not the emphasis on diamond boxes I have now.

Just my two cents.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine cellar question

by Tim York » Sat Feb 13, 2016 3:22 am

John F wrote:I'm going to build a new wine cellar in our Chicago house. The one I have now is basically all individual bottle racks with some for magnums. I have seen others that have lots of "diamond" storage in them and my contractor on this is pushing them. It always looked to me that you would be rooting around trying to figure out what is in the diamond. It is one hong to fish a bottle at a time in my rack now.... But taking a few bottles off the top of the diamond to see what is below seems a pain. Any thoughts?

Thanks


I have similar pain in spades with my Liebherr wine fridges. Try accessing a bottle in the back row on the bottom layer of three :evil: . But it's the only solution here other than the expense and disruption of burying a spiral cellar somewhere in the garden or of converting, insulating and air conditioning an outhouse.
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Wine cellar question

by Bill Spohn » Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:57 pm

Jenise wrote:So diamond boxes are good for long bottles but lousy for fat bottles. However, if I were starting over? I'd consider nothing but rectangles or at least a broader mix, not the emphasis on diamond boxes I have now.



I am also in the process of creating a new wine cellar and am following my long time practice of having simple rectangular bins and having neck tags as well as defined areas for different kinds of wines.

You can stack any kind of bottle in a rectangular bin (you obviously wouldn't choose to put a layer of tippy Burgs on top of a substrate of, say, German whites). You can also localize different sorts of wine (right to the bin if you use a cellar system that allows such).

This is my current cellar (or about 1/2 of it) The 'bins' on the left are stacked old style milk crates (for the square glass bottles) and don't represent best use in terms of volume (but they are going to pay off when I move the cellar!0.

The ones on the right are the ones I built (OK, so its not a 'show' cellar....) using plywood and drywall screws. Each square takes a dozen or more of the largest diameter bottle, and the top has retainers for stacking a row of cases if you run out of room (which I did years ago, resulting in an auxiliary cellar for BC wine in the laundry room, much to the disgust of SWMBO).

The new cellar will have a more refined rectangular racking, essentially the same as that, though.

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Re: Wine cellar question

by Jenise » Mon Feb 15, 2016 2:39 pm

Btw, John, another useful cellar shape? If you check out the far left in my photo, those are rectangles divided on the diagonal for half bottles (in my case, all Sauternes). Very efficient way to, as needed (just insert board cut for purpose) turn a rectangle for 750's into two smaller cubbies for 375's.
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Re: Wine cellar question

by David Raccah » Wed Jan 22, 2020 3:15 pm

I am sorry to revive this thread, it has been a long time since I have been here, sorry for that. Sadly, on an aside, those layouts would NEVER work in Cali, they would all be broken in an earthquake.

My question and reason for reviving this thread are the following. Has anyone thought through and is there a good post or chat somewhere about how to layout a cellar, wine wise? By Vintage? By region? By taste? By Winery?

My cellar is a large storage room, with 2K bottles, and all of it is bottle shelving. I was thinking more of a layout by region than any other idea. Vintage will catch up with you and make a mess and so will taste.

What do you all think? Is there a better place to see the discussion? Posts? Or is this thread good? Sorry if this is not the correct place or decorum.
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Re: Wine cellar question

by Bill Spohn » Wed Jan 22, 2020 3:28 pm

I have a row of whites, and then divide the other 5 rows into Italy, Rhone, other French , US plus overflow from other areas, and Canada/Australia.

I am nearing full occupancy so sometimes have to fudge those locations with new wines, but have it all on Cellartracker so wherever I put it I can find it again.

The issue of earthquake areas mandates some additional bracing between bins, plus a shallow riser at the front of the bins to keep them from shaking out. I already use strips of black plastic foam to shore up between layers of Burgundy bottles; they, along with Alsatian wines are the worst for stacking solidly.
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Re: Wine cellar question

by Jenise » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:17 pm

David, welcome back. I don't think there's one right or smarter way for organization. It depends on a number of things specific to you and your household.

Shape is one. My cellar's U shaped. A 10 foot square room, floor-to-ceiling on the walls with a 'desk' in the middle that gives me a flat working surface and provides for about 100 more bottles on each side below. Total capacity: 2000. And I'm full. Where things go has a lot to do with what needs more room, and areas expand and retract with my fascinations. Bordeaux is retracting.

What I like and how I cook/retrieve is the big deal, though. My 'departments', if you will, aren't strictly geographical or grape, but a mix based primarily on how I choose wine for dinner. So: Whites, Pinots (incl Burgundies and Bojos), American syrah and zinfandel except Reynvaans, Rhone wines, Reynvaans (I have so many they are their own department), WA/CA cabs and blends, Italy and Spain, Bordeaux, Stickies, champagne, and pockets of other things here and there. Wouldn't make sense to anyone else but makes perfect sense for me.

I used to think that if I had room for one more bin it would be something called The Drinking Queue. But so much of what I have is now ready to drink, that it no longer makes sense. Your circumstances might be different. I know some who have that queue just so that other members of the household know what they can help themselves to.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine cellar question

by David Raccah » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:16 pm

so far both have replied much along the lines of what I was thinking. I will have whites, burg, bord, Cali, Israel (sadly very little, a different topic for another day), and Spain, Italy, and then a grab bag. I like the drink now area, as not all of my stuff is. Kosher wine is having a very interesting situation now with lots of big bords and burgs that are undrinkable being sold now, so I would say the majority of my wines are now not drinkable. So, even within Bord, there are only a few very easy drinking ready now or with an hour of decanting wines.

Ok, thanks so folks - again apologies for hijacking and thanks for helping me settle my thoughts.

@Bill Spohn - in regards to Earthquake Preparedness - could we start another thread and talk there???
Checkout http://www.kosherwinemusings.com for my blogs on the world of kosher wines and follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/kosherwinemuse.
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Re: Wine cellar question

by Bill Spohn » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:37 pm

David Raccah wrote:@Bill Spohn - in regards to Earthquake Preparedness - could we start another thread and talk there???


You start it and I'll reply.
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Re: Wine cellar question

by Eli R » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:23 pm

Hi,

I guess my answer will be mix them!
The diamond shape will save on storage space and rack costs.
It is also a better solution for the extra fat bottles.
If you buy by the case, you can keep one or two labels in each bin.

My two cents.
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Re: Wine cellar question

by Bill Spohn » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:30 pm

Whatever you do, make sure to have a bin labelling system.

My old cellar had Bordeaux cases stacked six high, two deep, in twin rows. Finding and liberating a specific bottle reqired serious effort, time, and often frustration.

When I moved, I had all of the cellar set up and labeled and two of us called out bottles as we binned them, while two other friends, each armed with a laptop, sat there and logged them into Cellartracker. It still too several hours.

Not being able to find a specific bottle can be seriously annoying, and your one chance to deal with it is at the very first stage when setting up the cellar.
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Re: Wine cellar question

by Jenise » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:48 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:My old cellar had Bordeaux cases stacked six high, two deep, in twin rows. Finding and liberating a specific bottle reqired serious effort, time, and often frustration.


That would make me nuts. Of course I have a better than average memory, but I can put my hands on any bottle I want in about 30 seconds and cellar surprises are rare.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine cellar question

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Jan 25, 2020 3:29 pm

All my bottles have a label that also cross reference my cellarbook.
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Re: Wine cellar question

by David Raccah » Sun Jan 26, 2020 1:36 am

Diamond boxes are not an option for me in an earthquake area. So, I went with bottle racking alone. I use cellartracker. Stacking the cellar with my wines will be fun!
Checkout http://www.kosherwinemusings.com for my blogs on the world of kosher wines and follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/kosherwinemuse.

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