Wine Storage for the Timber Frame Home

While wine is at least 8,000 years old, its popularity continues to grow. According to the Wine Institute, per capita consumption in the United States has increased by 28 percent over the past decade. If you consider yourself a oenophile, then you should consider designing your home to showcase and store wine. Whether you merely want to show off a few bottles in the kitchen or cellar a collection of thousands of bottles, here are some guidelines for storing wine in your barn home.

Showcase Your Short-Term Wine

The vast majority of wine sold is intended for prompt consumption and not intended for extended aging. While you can certainly store these wines in an elaborate underground cellar, it is not necessary if you are only keeping the wines a short time before consumption. It is most important to keep the bottles out of direct sunlight, since the light can react with phenols in the wine to create off flavors. Wine can be stored at room temperature for a year or so without issue, but make sure to keep the bottles away from the stove or other places where extreme swings in temperature are common since this can cause spoilage. With these two key facts in mind, you can display your wine in whichever way fits your style.

There are many styles of wine bottle holders available that can be wall mounted, made from everything from wood to metal. A cellarette, a small furniture piece used to store wine, glasses and accessories, is also a popular choice. Wine refrigerators are also an increasingly popular option for storing chilled wine and can range from a small under-the-counter style to a large custom cabinet incorporating pieces of art, like the one shown below. Modern models also come in wood or stainless finish, with or without glass fronts, and many have multiple temperature zones for chilling different wines to their appropriate temperature ranges.

Home designed by Timberpeg Independent Rep Timberframe Design, Inc./Samyn-D'Elia Architects: Photos by John Hession: The custom wine cabinet was built by The Lawton Company in Littleton: Read the New Hampshire Home Article:

A Cellar for Larger Collections

Designed by Timberpeg Independent Rep Timberframe Design, Inc./Samyn-D'Elia Architects: Photos by John Hession: Read the New Hampshire Home Article:

If you have a larger collection of wine, then a wine cellar may be in order. As a rule of thumb, wines with higher acidity (lower pH) will age better than more basic wines. Furthermore, red wines that are more tannic will age better than less tannic wines. So, if you drink a great deal of Barolo or vintage Port, a wine cellar may be a must-have for your barn home. When considering how much space you need, experts recommend estimating your yearly consumption and at minimum doubling that figure. This will allow you to expand your collection in the future. On average, you can store 8 to 10 wine bottles per square foot of wall space. If you buy single bottles, then a rack with individual bottle holders is a great choice. If you buy several bottles of one wine a time, then the diamond style storage is a popular, cost effective choice. If you buy wine by the case, some prefer to have shelves in the cellar to display the case in its box.

Control Your Cellar’s Climate

Home built by Timberpeg Independent Rep Jeffrey Harris, Harris Custom Builders.

If you store wine for years at a time, it is important to store the bottles in an appropriate climate. While light is easy to control in a cellar, temperature, humidity and vibration must also be controlled. The temperature of a wine cellar is ideally around 52 degrees, and the humidity above 60 percent. You can achieve this passively, with a “cave” dug into the earth about a story below the surface, but a cellar built into the home with active climate control is more common.  

Home built by Timberpeg Rep Charles Southerland, Southerland Custom Builders

  Since this room is cooler and wetter than the rest of the home, it must be insulated (and have a vapor barrier installed) from the rest of the home. Vibration reduction is not a major concern, except that the climate system for the cellar should be mounted to prevent vibrations. If you're interested in building a timber frame home, or even just adding a timber framed wine cellar into your existing home, please contact Timberpeg to learn more.  If you want a lighter timber frame in your home, check out American Post & Beam. You can also visit the gallery of wineries and restaurants built by Timberpeg through the years.  Cheers!