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Underground Cellars – Are They Cold Enough To Cellar Wine?

by | Sep 4, 2017

We all love the idea of an underground cellar to store and enjoy our wines and watch them mature gracefully. Many of us romanticise this idea based on our fond memories of the limestone caves in Champagne, Burgundy and other wine regions in Europe.

Earth or soil is a great insulator so doesn’t it make sense that building your cellar underground will provide you with a cool, temperature controlled environment? Well yes and no. The European cellars have metres of earth protecting them around the perimeter, and most importantly ABOVE the cellar to keep the space cool. Interestingly, 2 metres of earth is equivalent to 5cm of modern insulation product.

Many of the “underground” cellars we see designed in New Zealand are often protected not by earth, but by concrete which is a very poor insulator. Even worse, these spaces generally open into basement car parks and garages so the warm air comes straight in through the surrounding walls, or are largely underground except for a concrete slab above which poses the same insulation issues. Add to this, the increasingly warm summers that we seem to be experiencing and it is not difficult to understand why we receive many calls in summer from concerned wine collectors whose cellars are simply getting too warm. If you have an unerground cellar, phone me on 021 656 198 and I will send you a temerature guage that will measure the minimum and maximum temperautes and himidity so you can put this in your cellar over the summer and see how warm your cellar gets. I guanantee you will be surprised! 

Wine requires a constant temperature of 14°C to mature as the wine maker intended. You can retro fit insulation and a EuroCave Inoa  cellar conditioner after building your cellar but this can be a messy and expensive process. PLEASE consider insulation and installing a cellar conditioner in the planning stages of your cellar. Without these you will not achieve the desired environment.

EuroCave works with home owners, architects and builders on a daily basis. We are able to offer you expert advice on designing your cellar to create the perfect conditions for your wine.

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