How Big Should Your In-Home Wine Cellar Be?
We're often asked the question, “How big should I make my wine cellar?” To which we often reply, “It depends.”
Don’t you hate that answer?
But it’s true: The size of your ideal wine cellar does depend on so many different factors which makes it impossible to blurt out a one size fits all type of answer. For some homeowners, the perfect wine cellar is the size of a walk-in coat closet. For others, the ideal cellar is large enough to comfortably accommodate a tasting party of 12.
In this post, we'll ask you questions to help you determine the best size for your wine cellar. Let's get started.
How much space do you have to devote to a wine cellar?
Are you planning to convert an unused guest room in your home? Or will you carve out space in your unfinished basement for your cellar?
Or, if you’re in the beginning stages of custom building your home, have you already designated the ideal spot on your floor plan?
Whether you’re renovating your current home or planning out a future build, assess how much room you can allot to an in-home cellar. Depending on your answers to the rest of the questions in this guide, you may not need to use all of that space, but it’s important to have a starting point. You may be able to spare 50 square feet or 500.
Calculate the square footage available for a wine cellar using this basic formula: length (in feet) multiplied by width (in feet). If one wall in your room is 14 feet and the perpendicular wall is 16 feet, the area (or square footage) of your room will be 224 (which is the product of 14 multiplied by 16).
How many bottles of wine do you want to store?
Image Courtesy of Dan Perry, Flickr
This is another essential question, and it goes hand-in-hand with the above question. You may wish to store 1,000 bottles, but if you only have 25 square feet in your desired space, you won’t be able to. If you want more storage, you’ll need to find space.
To determine how many bottles of wine you’re likely to store, start by tallying up the number of bottles you currently have. Then decide how many more you’d like to have ideally. You may not have an exact number, and that’s fine. Having a rough estimate of your ideal collection will help you find the right size (in square footage) for your cellar.
If you want to have a small collection of 500 bottles or less, your cellar can be as small as 5 feet x 5 feet, or 25 square feet. This will provide you with around 9 feet of space for storing your collection (if you have 9 foot ceilings)
If you want to double that collection and store up to 1,000 bottles, your cellar needs to be a minimum of 50 square feet.
Building from this base of 50 square feet, for every additional 500 bottles, add 50 square feet. For example, if you want to store 1,500 bottles, your cellar should be at least 100 square feet. If you want to store 2,000 bottles, your cellar should be 150 square feet, and so on.
We recommend keeping your cellar smaller than 500 square feet. Five hundred square feet may sound small, but in terms of wine storage, that’s around 4,300 bottles.
Here’s the reason why we recommend keeping your cellar under the 500 square foot threshold: Energy efficiency. The larger the room, the harder it is to cool consistently. Not only does your wine cellar need to remain cool, it needs humidity control, too. It’s easier to control both of these elements when the room is small. But the more square footage that you tack on, the harder it will be to find the ideal cool and humidity mix.
How many wine bottles would you like to purchase each year?
Aside from storage benefits, there’s one motivating reason to build your own wine cellar, and that’s to buy more wine. Consider your buying habits when calculating the ideal size for your cellar. Whether you want to buy dozens of bottles a year or splurge on one or two big purchases, your cellar needs to be able to accommodate your current collection and have enough room for new additions.
How many bottles of wine do you drink in a year's time?
Let’s talk about turnover. Your wine cellar will be a finite space with a set storage capacity. So, you need to think about how much wine you’ll consume and how much wine you’ll buy. Ideally, once you reach your max capacity, the exchange should be even.
When you first start building your wine collection, you’ll probably buy more than you consume. For example, if you have a max storage capacity of 500 bottles but you currently have only 50 bottles in your collection, you have freedom to buy up to your desired amount. But, as you near that max amount of 500 bottles, you’ll need to slow your buying and start enjoying what you have.
If you like the idea of trying adding many new bottles of wine to your collection, be sure that you either have the space to accommodate or that you can consume at the same pace.
It’s also important to note that not all wine needs to be aged. Many wines are meant to be enjoyed when they’re young, which is within 2-3 years of purchase. Check with the manufacturer to be sure. And keep this in mind when planning your wine cellar size. If you can’t consume 200 bottles of young wine within 2 years’ time (even with the help of your friends), it’s best to limit those purchases to a more reasonable number you can consume.
How do you plan to use your in-home wine cellar?
Image Courtesy of Roderick Eime, Flickr
Speaking of friends, let’s talk about your plans for your in-home wine cellar. Will your cellar be a place for entertaining? Will it be used for storage and nothing more? Or will your cellar double as a decorative element in your home, such as a wine wall in your dining room?
Your goals for the cellar will definitely determine its size. Storage cellars are no frills, no furniture spaces and will only take up a small footprint in your home. But an entertainment wine cellar will need to be large enough for a bar, table, chairs, and more. Wine walls or under-stairs cellars won’t require a lot of space, but they likewise won’t store a lot of wine.
Consider your storage needs first and then think of how you’d ideally use the space. If you only want to store 50 bottles of young wine, a wine wall may be the perfect solution. However, if you have a huge collection of 1,000 bottles or more, you can either create a plain storage space or amp it up into a storage/tasting room.
How much will your wine cellar weigh?
This is a strange question to ask but a necessary one. Your answer can dictate exactly how big your wine cellar can and should be.
Wine cellars are often placed in the basement, and not just to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. It’s also a matter of weight. Wine bottles weigh, on average, 3 pounds. If you have 100 bottles, your wine cellar room weighs at least 300 pounds. That’s in addition to any furniture, including racking, tables, or seating, that you may have in the space. But that’s not too bad, considering some bedroom furniture can weigh as much.
However, if you have a huge collection of over 1,000 bottles, your wine cellar will weigh a ton (literally). Weight-wise, that’s like having a Toyota Corolla, or even a rhinoceros, sitting in the middle of your wine room.
This is why, if you’d like to store a large amount of wine, it’s best to place your cellar on a lower level. Otherwise, your cellar may put too much strain on a room in an upper level of your home.
However, if you don’t have a basement or would simply prefer to have your cellar on the main or upper level, consider reducing your collection so that it doesn’t attack the structure integrity of your home.
How much do you want to spend on building your wine cellar?
The larger the room, the more you’ll spend. And we’re not just referring to the one-time expense of construction and wine cooling/humidity control equipment. We’re also talking about the on-going utility costs of keeping your wine room climate controlled. If you have a large room, you’ll spend more money to keep it consistently and evenly cool. This is another reason why you shouldn’t go any larger in square footage than you must.
What type of racking will you use?
If corked, it’s best to store your wine bottles on their sides. This ensures that the liquid in the bottle stays in contact with the cork, which will prevent the cork from drying out. A dried out cook lets air seep into the bottle, which can prematurely age and possibly destroy your wine.
This is one of the reasons why wine racking is so important. It allows you to store bottles horizontally.
Racking also helps you store more wine bottles in your cellar.
It’s most common to buy wine and champagne in 750 mL bottles. These bottles measure approximately 3 inches in diameter and are approximately 12 inches in length. You’ll need racking that can accommodate this size of bottle.
The diamond bin, or X-cube shape, is one of the most common wine racks. Not only are diamond bins beautiful to look at, but they also store a lot of wine.
But you can also purchase racks for storing cases, assuming you don't want to disturb the wine rack.
Check out our extensive collection of high quality wood wine racks here.
Additionally, you must think about your wine cellar’s door. The average door for a wine cellar is between 24 inches to 30 inches. The door is likely to open into the cellar, so you need a minimum clearance in front of the door of at least 3 feet in order to properly open, close, and walk into the space.
Still not sure of the ideal size for your wine room?
Let us help you! Contact us by phone, email, and chat and we'll help you determine the best size for your wine cellar. It's our goal to help you solve your wine storage dilemma. We provide free, 30 minute wine cellar design consultations.
An alternative to a wine cellar would be to invest in a wine cooler instead.
Contact one of our in house Wine Storage consultants now.