In the last year or so I've been working to move my wine collection from California, where it's been in storage for the better part of ten years, to my home, where I've finally gotten around to building a cellar. I thought I'd share some pics of the experience. Below are photos of Subterraneum in Oakland, a huge storage facility in an old ice cream factory that has a 65,000 case capacity. It's an interesting operation given that the whole thing is run with one or two people, is open a few days a week, and consists of levels of lockers, constructed from particle board. Very simple, very efficient, and I had a great experience keeping my wine there for a decade.
This is the view down one of the rows of lockers. Big lockers on the bottom, getting smaller as they go higher.
I've collected wine for the better part of the last fifteen years and I'd amassed a pretty random collection, the only real vertical of anything I have is Montebello, the rest being Southern France, Bordeaux, Champagne, and various stuff from CA. Of course, my passion for the past three or four years has been Italian wines, and I probably own less than a couple of cases of cellerable Italian wines. So the lesson is, never buy huge amounts of any wine given that tastes change and you're liable to end up with a bunch of stuff you don't want to drink. I think my tastes in wine are relatively mature and I don't anticipate a huge shift going forward. The constants are: Bordeaux, well made CA cab (Ridge, Montelena, SCM), some No Cal pinot noir, Champagne, and Italian wines generally speaking. I would expect the Rhones to be consumed and be replaced with Piemonte and Tuscan wines. In organizing my collection for shipment (the photo below) I had a chance to see bottles I hadn't seen in ten years. I'm happy to say there were many more pleasing discoveries of treasures I'd forgotten about (89 Palmer, 91 Montelena, 95 Winston Churchill) than eye rollers that I wished I'd never bought, or wished I'd consumed long ago (four bottles of 00 VT Blanc, various bottles of Alban syrahs). I owe a huge thanks to Slewfoot for hooking me up with a shipper that moved my wine from CA to NJ for a fraction of what the wine shipping companies were proposing.
I decided to build a room in my basement given that I didn't really have space in my home to build a showcase type cellar. I wanted something functional, but nice, understanding that I wouldn't be spending a lot of time in the actual room. I figured I'd need about 1200-1400 bottle capacity. I ordered racking from Wine Enthusiast. Given my goals, I went for the most basic racking they had, really no frills, and I assembled most of them myself. I exchanged emails with one of their cellar design consultants who made some recommendations and gave me blue prints for the room I needed.
The room is basically finished, the space around the cooling unit still needs to be sealed, but I moved most of the wine into it this week. I'm happy with it, it's functional and it's great to have all my wine in one place. One mistake I did make was installing too many magnum racks. I overestimated the size of some of the "oversized" burg shaped bottles used by a lot of CA wineries and I thought I'd need a bigger slot for them to fit into. Turns out they fit in to the standard racks just fine. So I'll likely replace some of the mag space with standard bottle racking and I should have a hundred or so empty slots.
Now, I think I'm going to drink some wine.