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A Clairmont Wine Cellar – Involves More Science Than You Think

A Clairmont Wine Cellar – Involves More Science Than You Think

It’s their time

Displaying their wine collection beautifully while also protecting it was the goal for these Western Springs homeowners. They raised their children, enjoyed successful careers and wanted to enjoy their passion.  It’s their time. They purchase wine to age and enjoy visiting wineries in the US and Europe. This savvy couple purchased wonderful vintages at a low cost, allowing them to age and grow in value. In their own home this was a dream come true. When the husband retired they decided to make their dream a reality so they contacted Clairmont to design and build a show stopper. A Clairmont Wine Cellar – Involves More Science Than You Think

A blend of art and science

A wine cellar should be a blend of both art and science.  Temperature and humidity control is key.  Temperatures typically range between 54 and 58 degrees and humidity in the 30% range.  For this project, a split system was used for cooling and humidity control.  It is much like a small central air conditioning system.  Another plus with the split system is that it is whisper quiet. At its most simplistic level, a wine cellar is just a walk-in refrigerator but you need a pro to build it for you.

Proper installation is key

Cracked corks, mold on labels, and mold on walls is what happens all too frequently for those who do it themselves or hiring contractors not schooled in proper design.  We are all familiar with the small amounts of mold that can grow on refrigerator seals and elsewhere in the fridge.  Same thing with a wine cellar but on a grander scale.  Proper seals, air gaps, vapor barriers all need to be installed in the right order and installed right.

A Wi-Fi thermostat/humidistat was installed since the homeowners travel and wanted the temperature to be continually monitored. They know they are not monitoring Ft. Knox but for a couple hundred bucks, they have the peace of mind that no matter where they are in world, they will receive a notification if anything is out of range. Their house thermostat and sump pump have them too.

Trouble free operation and ease of maintenance

Maintenance is simple using the split system, also called the chiller. Annual checks, taking only a half hour, involve refrigerant levels, air coil cleaning, duct vacuuming, and drain tube cleaning. The room is pretty close to airtight, so it does not even get dusty and let’s face it, not having to dust a thousand bottles is worth something! A small fully insulated room adjacent to the cellar nicely houses and tucks away all of the mechanicals. It also allows whisper quiet operation – and vibration free operation.  The condenser, much like a home’s central air conditioning condenser, sits outside the house.

Lighting and racking

This particular wine cellar can house up to 1100 bottles. Most of the racks house regular sized wine bottles. There are shelves for Magnums and angled display shelves to show off rare bottles or bottles with beautiful labels illuminated with tiny LED lights. The ceiling LED lights give off very little heat, which is important when sizing the chiller. All lights are on dimmers and the soft glow of the wine cellar sets a luxurious tone while entertaining.

The alder wood stained and lacquered racking/cabinetry for this cellar looks a cut above compared to most wine cellars having unfinished redwood racking. An entire wall of the cellar is glass, purposely visible to the rest of the basement, creating the strong visual statement he homeowners wanted. A frameless glass door that swings wide completes the look of a glass curtain wall and allows one to easily carry full cases of wine into the cellar without banging one’s elbows.

The homeowners prized artwork creates a nice centerpiece for the wine cellar. The floor to ceiling glass enclosure provides an expansive display case; creating a focal point for the entire basement.

Clairmont has completed many wine cellars in the past 34 years. A Clairmont Wine Cellar – Involves More Science Than You Think. Clairmont owner Patrick Franz and Senior Designer Kimberly Robbins, also wine enthusiasts, welcome the opportunity to discuss your project and design something stunning. Check out some of our other wine cellar work here.