This is probably one of the most common questions we field at Blue Grouse
Wine Cellars and it’s a tricky one to answer. It’s kind of like asking “How much is a car?” Of course, they all get you from point A to point B, but beyond that, there’s a huge range of options available, depending on how basic or luxurious your desires are.
Although we can’t tell you on the spot what a complete wine cellar build will cost you, we can typically help you determine your main areas of expense, based on your wants, needs and desires. Furthermore, we can potentially even help you save money with good planning and preparation.
Here’s a basic list of considerations when building a wine cellar and how they will affect your cost:
This one’s pretty straightforward: the more bottles you need to accommodate, the higher your cost is going to be. Having said that, this cost can be minimized or magnified depending on the racking system you choose. If you’re looking to go with a higher-end, display-oriented system (like Float wine racking, for example), every bottle added will be more impactful to your bottom line than say, a budget-oriented racking system (like Vintage Keeper wooden wine racks).
If you are going to climate-control your cellar, and it’s recommended that you do for any wine you plan to store for more than a few months, the refrigeration system may form a more or less significant portion of your overall wine cellar cost. Simple, through-wall cooling units are going to offer the most bang-for-your-buck BUT:
- they may or may not be powerful enough to cool your space (this is based on size of the cellar but also the construction and how well insulated it is)
- you may not have a suitable wall to mount through (ie. it must exhaust warm air outside the cellar into a large and well-ventilated space for that heat to dissipate)
- you may not want to see or hear the unit operating (some units are quieter or less conspicuous than others, but they can all be seen and heard to some degree)
If the above challenges present themselves for your wine cellar project, a more robust or complex refrigeration system may be required. Especially in the case of split systems, these must be installed by a licensed refrigeration technician so the total cost for the unit with installation can be significantly higher.
Of course, if you’re building a wine cellar with a very small storage capacity and you plan to turn over your inventory very quickly, you may opt not to climate-control.
Stage of Construction
It is always less expensive to build your wine cellar during the construction of your home. You will already have the necessary trades on site and won’t have any demolition work to do before you can get started with preparing your space for climate-control.
If you have a finished home and decide to convert a room into a wine cellar, it’s very unlikely the walls and ceiling will already be insulated and vapour barriered as they should be for a wine cellar. In this case, you will need to demolish the drywall to gain access to the wall and ceiling cavities to add insulation and vapour barrier. You will also be calling in the necessary trades to do this work for you which per square foot is going to cost more than if they were drywalling your whole home.
You may also require plywood backing where your wine racking is to mount. This can be planned for during construction, or conversely, is another reason drywall demolition needs to happen to an existing space.
Bells and Whistles
A wine cellar can be more utilitarian, intended purely for proper storage of your wine collection or it can be designed to double as a showpiece in your home. Obviously, the utilitarian cellar with basic painted drywall, simple flooring, visible/audible cooling system and budget-oriented racking system is going to be your cheapest option. Once you start incorporating things like glass walls and doors (more expensive in materials but also much less efficient than insulated walls and exterior-grade doors, meaning your cooling unit needs to be upsized to compensate) your cost is going to increase.
Consider wall-treatments as well. If you have a wall-mounted wine racking system, it’s going to be much more time-consuming and costly to mount through tiles. Favoring a backlit material on your wall or uneven rock cladding? Those racks you were going to mount to the wall can no longer be installed that way and you will either need to add additional floor-to-ceiling mounting posts/accessories or switch to another racking system altogether. Of course, these wall treatments themselves come at a much higher cost than simply painting your drywall.
Think about lighting. A single, simple LED light fixture can be installed in your wine cellar and the cost will be minimal. You likely already have an electrical connection in place and a simple fixture won’t cost you much. If you want to add additional fixtures or lighting accents, you’ll need to consider both the cost of the materials and an electrician to run wires and connect to your panel.
As mentioned above, the racking system you choose can be quite impactful to the overall cost of your wine cellar. Factors to consider, include:
- Storage capacity: generally speaking, choosing a system that offers density will result in a lower cost-per-bottle for storage. For example, many label view racking systems come in single, double, or triple bottle deep configurations. It’s almost always more cost-effective to triple up the depth of a rack, rather than installing 3 of the same single bottle depth racks.
- Materials: for wood racks, many are offered in different wood species and either stained or unstained. Species like pine are going to be cheaper than say, walnut and a natural finish to the wood is going to cost less than adding stain or lacquer. When it comes to metal racking, many systems are offered in a single colour or small choice of colours. Choosing a custom colour will always cost extra.
- Installation technique: research or inquire about the difficulty of assembling and installing your wine racking system. If it’s simple, your cost to install will be less or you may even be able to do it yourself. If the system is more complex it will take longer and cost more to install and may even require specialized trades.
It’s a lot to thing about but hopefully this list may help you identify areas upgrades are more or less important to you. The best way to really get a handle on your costs is to speak with one of our wine cellar design specialists. They will review your specific space and preferences in detail and from there, provide a design and quote for your project.