Wine cellars have come a long way from the dark, underground grottos found beneath winding staircases in estate homes. Today, just about any home can accommodate a wine cellar, whether it’s a sprawling multifloor mansion or a modest two-bedroom condo.
“You can have cellars small enough to fit under the stairs or into a converted closet, up to ones that fill very substantial rooms,” Gary Bombay, president of Blue Grouse Wine Cellars tells the Georgia Straight. “We did one not long ago where there was a curved staircase and behind the curve was a triangular space that was kind of orphaned. So we found this very peculiar space, put racking on the other side of the curve, and made a gorgeous wine cellar. This was done in a condo down by False Creek.”
Blue Grouse Wine Cellars is a North Vancouver–based wine-storage company. It provides wine racks, cooling equipment, and storage cabinets, as well as custom-built, climate-controlled wine cellars.
So why all the fuss over wine storage? Why not just leave collected bottles in a cupboard or in the garage?
“Many wines mature over time, so you want to keep wine at a proper temperature,” Bombay says. “It’s got to be 14 ° C for it to properly mature. If it’s too cold, basically it’s preserved and nothing happens to it. If it’s too warm, it has a tendency to accelerate the aging process and it doesn’t get its proper time to develop.
“As far as humidity is concerned, we want to keep the corks moist so they don’t dry out. If they dry out, then oxygen gets into the bottle, and oxygen is not your friend when you’re storing wine.”
Custom-built wine cellars start at a couple thousand dollars and can run as steep as $50,000 to $100,000. For those who are not ready to take the plunge, or for people who rent but still want to care for their wines, climate-controlled cabinets are a smart option and are significantly less expensive, starting at $1,000. Another plus for wine cabinets, which are available as glass-front full-size built-ins or half-size under-the-counter styles, is that they are move-friendly.
“They’re as transportable as your refrigerator, and some of them are fine pieces of furniture, so you would definitely bring them with you,” Bombay says.
While baby boomers have traditionally made up the majority of Blue Grouse’s clientele, Bombay is noticing a rise in younger wine aficionados. He attributes this to the greater focus on health and the penalties associated with drinking and driving: “We have a trend where we want to drink less, so people are more selective about what they drink,” Bombay says. “Rather than a kegger, they bring over a bottle of wine that they taste rather than chug with friends.”
If you want to start collecting bottles of wine, first consider your drinking habits and what you want your collection to look like. Then, allocate a place in your home to turn into a cellar or to place a cabinet and start shopping. At the end of the day, it’s all about sharing good wine with friends.