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Wine beneath your Feet

It starts with the purchase of one special bottle, then another. Next you buy a case! Then you join a wine club. Before you know it you’re a wine collector. A Variety of vintages fill out your collection and you’re constantly on the lookout for the next unique and flavourful addition. Are your expensive bottles stored in the back of the closet, in the kitchen pantry and under the stairs? It may be time to invest in a place to keep your collection under proper conditions. Sound expensive? Don’t worry. There are ways to construct a wine cellar on a budget and once developed it will increase your property value. No space? That undeveloped area in your basement will do just fine. Following are tips for adding a wine cellar to your basement.

  • Make a plan: Decide how many bottles you wish to store. Do you want to include a wine tasting area? Is the space intended for functional long term storage or is it meant to showcase your wine to friends and family? Your answers will affect the size and style of the cellar you construct. 
  • Check the area for light, air and water leaks. Remedy any problems found.
  • Frame the room: Use 2 X 6 lumber to allow for more insulation. 
  • Install a vapour barrier: To prevent moisture from forming inside your cellar and protect from mold and rot, attach a 6 mil plastic vapour barrier to the warm side of the walls (the interior of the wine cellar is the cold side). Secure the seams with moisture resistant tape and seal all outlets and lighting fixtures.
  • Insulate: To isolate your wine cellar from exterior elements and help maintain a cool moist environment, use R-19 insulation on the walls and R-30 on the ceiling. 
  • Finish the walls: Use a moisture resistant sheetrock or plywood to increase the R value and make it easy to hang hooks and shelving. Complete with a moisture resistant paint.
  • Seal the floor: Use penetrating sealers (silanes or siloxanes) or high performance coatings (epoxies or urethane) to finish the concrete floor. If you wish to cover the  concrete, consider porcelain tile, stone, brick or cork as they will hold up to the cool humid conditions. Wood floors and rugs are not recommended. 
  • Choose the door carefully: To keep out heat, choose an exterior grade door of at least 1 ¾ inch thickness with weather stripping and a proper threshold. The door should close with an audible thump ensuring that the room is airtight. If the door contains glass, ensure that it is tempered and double paned. 
  • Install lighting:  There are few limitations for lighting options in a wine cellar. Steer clear of incandescent and halogen bulbs as they generate too much heat.
  • Create a cooling system: A consistent temperature of approximately 55 degrees Celsius is key to properly storing wine. Try installing a “through the wall” air-conditioning unit in an adjacent room or opt for a mini-split system that hangs on the wall of the wine cellar and is connected to a condensing unit on the exterior of your home. 
  • Check again for air leaks paying close attention to vents, light switches and around pipes.  
  • Choose and install shelving: What shelving you use will depend upon your needs and preferences. Do you wish to store individual bottles? Are you interested in bulk/bin storage? Do you need room for wood wine boxes, large format bottles or split wine bottles? Are you interested in a tasting and decanting area? Custom shelving is the best choice but ready-made metal or pine racks work when on a limited budget.
  • Add finishing touches: Create a room that is a showcase of your style and taste by adding finishes to your cellar that reflect the beauty and uniqueness of you and your collection. 

Get those bottles out of the closet, kitchen cabinet and from under the stairs! Have fun creating a customized space in your basement for storing and displaying your wine collection. When you’re ready to turn that empty space in your basement into a functioning wine cellar, call the Calgary basement experts, Econo Basements at (403) 768-0256 or email at We can help you maximize storage, cut costs and make a wine cellar that is perfect for your home.