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Wine storage is moving to the upper floors with LED lights and glass walls
By LISA SELIN DAVIS
Oct. 16, 2014 10:25 a.m. ET
For centuries, wine cellars have been dark, windowless spaces with bottles stuffed into cubbies, more function than form. But that doesn’t suit a new generation, for whom wine collecting is as much a social hobby as an investment strategy.
Mr. Casimano’s wine room as seen from the kitchen. The room is also viewable from the great room and the hallway.CLAUDIO PAPAPIETRO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNALFor these collectors, the cellar needs to be a showpiece, maybe with single-paned glass, LED lights and clear sleeves that put labels on display. And befitting their elevated status, sometimes these spaces aren’t in the basement at all. “They’re not wine cellars anymore,” said Robert Bass, president of Greenville, S.C.-based Kessick Wine Cellars. “They’re wine rooms.”
On the first floor of Anthony Casimano ’s 14,000-square-foot, Italian-villa-style home in Upper Brookville, N.Y., sits a 16-by-10-foot, climate-controlled glass box holding 1,500 bottles. It is the home’s centerpiece, and is viewable from the great room, the hallway and the kitchen.
“We thought it would be one of the highlights of the house,” said Mr. Casimano, 42, who owns a health-care software company called Findatopdoc.com. “It’s a big wow factor.” Below the glass cellar is a more traditional wood-and-brick version, holding up to 4,000 bottles. “It’s a hybrid between what my wife and I both like,” Mr. Casimano said.
By installing glass and raising the wine storage above ground, collectors like Mr. Casimano lose the relatively cool, constant temperatures that drove wine storage underground in the first place. To compensate, Mr. Casimano’s aboveground room is refrigerated 24 hours a day to keep the wine the ideal temperature, which his wine-room designer believes is between 59 and 61 degrees. And the glass has a coating to filter out UV rays. Mr. Casimano estimates the cost of building his first-floor wine room, plus the more traditional second wine room underneath, at about $120,000.
Mr. Casimano’s wine room as seen from the kitchen. The room is also viewable from the great room and the hallway.CLAUDIO PAPAPIETRO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNALFor thousands of years, winemakers used the naturally mild temperatures found in caves, catacombs or deep holes to store wine in Iran, ancient Greece and other parts of Europe. While some wineries in Napa Valley and elsewhere continue the tradition of caves, growing numbers of homeowners are cooling their vino with artificial refrigeration and humidity control, which can regulate the environment with a few pressed buttons.