Building a backyard wine cellar

Answered by Brett ~ March 19, 2012 ~ No Comments

I want to build a wine cellar in my backyard that is sunken in the ground about 2-3 feet. I can see it in my head but have now idea how to build it or how to proceed. Any ideas?

Robert D. ~ Gardinena ,CA

Brett Kulina

Well Robert, oftentimes the most successful back yard projects start simply with a good drawing. If you can create a sketch of what you want your new wine cellar to look like, undoubtedly there is a contractor somewhere who can build it for you. Even if this is a planned DIY-project, you are still going to need some expert help when designing this below-grade structure and when installing a reliable HVAC system that can keep your wine collection at both an optimum temperature and a constant humidity level. One advantage of building the structure into the ground is the insulating value of the earth, which might help to reduce your overall heating and cooling costs throughout the year.

Building a structure that is partially buried below grade is pretty common (ie, daylight basements, split-levels, etc.), but you should consider the type of underlying soil, the slope of your yard, and the local ground water levels before you decide on which type of foundation is best suited for your new wine cellar. Waterproofing the exterior of the foundation with a sealant and a thick rubber membrane will also be necessary if you want to eliminate the chances of future water infiltration or mold issues. Speaking of mold, be warned that wine cellars need adequate ventilation so that mold does not grow on the wine racks and labels. This is especially true with wine cellars that are equipped with humidifiers, which can pump 2-5 gallons of water vapor a day into an enclosed space to compensate for dry summer air. If your wine cellar has no mechanical ventilation system to combat this influx of new moist air, then you have the perfect breading ground for mold.

As I said, start with a sketch, perhaps worrying more about how your wine cellar will look and less on how it will function. Once you have your ideas on paper, then you can consult some contractors in the Gardena area who can make the reality happen. Good luck with your project!

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