Wine racks, wine rooms and wet bars have become popular additions to new-home designs and renovated homes alike. Courtesy Steve Trutenko

Grape expectations

In-home wine cellars’ popularity on the rise

Canadians love to kick back and enjoy a good sip or smooth tipple – after all, we spent $7 billion on wine alone in 2016, according to Statistics Canada. So it’s no surprise that people are building the activity into their homes.

Whether a leisure-time imbiber, a hobbyist or a serious collector, wine racks, wine rooms and wet bars have become popular additions to new-home designs and renovated homes alike.

Pieter Spinder is president and chief design engineer for Uncommon Wine Rooms. He works with builders to provide wine room components and the occasional full, turnkey wine room.

“It’s really trendy right now,” said Spinder. “I don’t like to call it a cellar – it gives you the idea it has to be deep in the ground. You can climate-control it and put it anywhere.”

Prospective clients visit his showroom first. There they discuss wine racking, design and cooling systems, and then he visits the home to get a feel for the style and the client’s design wishes before providing a quote.

Spinder’s portfolio showcases everything from traditional wood designs to sleek, backlit racks in glass-encased rooms.

Climate control for temperature and humidity usually only comes into play for those that collect and age wine, Spinder says. If you drink your wine within six months, it’s not something you need to worry about.

With climate control, Spinder says, you can put a wine room in a closet, an attic or anywhere. Costs can range from a couple hundred dollars to $100,000 or more depending on what’s involved.

A full wine room involves a lot of tradespeople. “It’s a lot like building a small house inside of a house,” said Spinder, with electrical, millwork, lighting and cooling systems.

Steve Trutenko, on the other hand, is a strict traditionalist when it comes to wine rooms, which he still prefers to call cellars.

Trutenko is the president of Tru Woodcraft, and says 99 per cent of his business now involves ways to display or store wine.

He points to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel as an ideal aesthetic.

“I’m really not a fan of modern wine cellars. Wine is something that’s classic, and there are some silly wine storage ideas. Classic wine cellars will last for years,” said Trutenko. “The main-floor – I call them ‘aquariums’ – are the modern trend. You have wine racks made from airline cables and people are dropping bottles and breaking them. It’s a trapeze act trying to get a bottle.”

Trutenko’s rooms feature wood and stonework, with classic, pressed-tin ceilings. He builds cellars in basements, which are more energy efficient for proper storage, requiring smaller cooling systems.

He has tied quite a few wine cellars into living spaces that include wet bars. He likes the trend of the walk-up bar, where guests can serve themselves, rather than the bartender-style, walk-behind design.

For a great wine room, Trutenko recommends LED lighting – which provides the dual benefit of low power consumption and virtually no heat generation – and cork flooring, which has both an insulation and comfort value, and is flame retardant. Also, if you drop a precious bottle, it will be less likely to break.

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