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Wine Cellar Design: Custom Racking vs. Racking Kits

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 at 3:07:52 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

As a Wine Storage Consultant, we often have customers ask us, “I’m thinking of building a wine cellar, should I use the designer kits or is it worth it to move to the custom level?” This is a question that comes up quite often when customers are determining their desired wine cellar racking style. There is not a clear answer to that, as everyone’s needs differ, and so do budgets. But hopefully I can shed some light on the situation for you.

Custom Wine Racks Custom Wine Cellars from Wine Enthusiast
Let’s start with custom racking. This option is exactly what the name states: custom to your needs. Wine racking that can be made to fit the exact dimensions of your space. Any type and style of racking can be used in any combination you desire, as long as it is structurally sound and will support the racking as well as the wine (which is obviously a top priority!). Custom racking allows for a greater variety of wood styles, stains, and finishes, each giving the room a different look and feel. Custom racking is also a great way to maximize your space and capacity, as it ensures you can go floor to ceiling with your racking.
Designer Wine Racks from Wine EnthusiastDesigner Wine Rack Kits
Designer racking kits are basically a pre-fabricated version of the most popular racks used in the Custom series. There are many options of different racks to choose from (Individual, Diamond Bin, Waterfall, etc). You can see them all here in our Designer Wine Racks section. However, unlike the Custom series the racks all have set dimensions. Each full height rack in the series is 72” high (there are half heights also) and 13 ½” deep, while different racks have different widths. Since the dimensions are predetermined, they may or may not fit perfectly in your space the way Custom racking would. There are options for different woods and stains, but they don’t vary as much as custom.
So how do you decide: should I use Custom or Kits? If you are looking for simple storage, a cost-effective option, and are not as concerned maximizing the room’s capacity, but still want a nice wine cellar, the designer kits are for you. If you intend your cellar to be an important showcase room in your home, need to maximize your bottle capacity and would like to set up the racking exactly to your needs, then a custom wine cellar would be more your speed.

If you are still uncertain, simply contact call our Wine Storage hotline at 800-377-3330 and one of our Wine Storage Consultants will be glad to help you decide which type of racking is most suited to your needs.

Do you have a wine cellar in your home? I’d like to hear your comments about how you designed it. Leave a comment, and let us know!

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5 Responses to “Wine Cellar Design: Custom Racking vs. Racking Kits”

  1. 1 David Moseler(Wine Storage Consultant) said:

    In addition, we like to use California Redwood on both kits and custom for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s environmently friendly. There are almost 2 million acres planted and 26% is preserved in national and state parks. The remaining acreage are being well managed by independant third-party forest certification programs and 650 million new trees are being planted each year. In terms of the actual redwood being able to hold up in wine cellar, have no fear. Redwoods best attribute is the ability to withstand the test of time. Redwood is raised in the cool, damp forests of Northern California. It is naturally resistent to the cool, humid atmosphere desired for long term storage. It requires no finish or sealant, and over time darkens to a lustrious cinnamon color.

  2. 2 Brian Flaherty said:

    I thought this would be an informative article. . .However, it was nothing but a pitch to SELL designer racks ["You can see them all here in our Designer Wine Racks section."]

    Re: “custom wine racks”. . .Another pitch to sell something [". . .simply contact call our Wine Storage hotline at 800-377-3330 and one of our Wine Storage Consultants will be glad to help you"]

    Granted you’re in the business of selling wine and “accessories,” it might be appreciated if you gave some REAL information when you offer what at first glance appears to be an “objective” article discussing wine racking.

    Re: the PURPOSE of the wine cellar, there are more reasons than just showing off [". . .If you intend your cellar to be an important showcase room in your home, need to maximize your bottle capacity and would like to set up the racking exactly to your needs, then a custom wine cellar would be more your speed.']

    I have several hundred wines in my cellar and, “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” about showcasing. . .I need a place to store the wine that is 1) a proper storage environment (temp, light, humidity, etc); 2) accessible; and, 3) large enough. . .If I can do all that AND make it “aesthetically & architecturally pleasing,” too, then, I achieved the ultimate [with respect to storage---the palatizing and enjoyment of the wine is a completely separate issue!]

    Now that I’ve put your feet to the fire and toasted you, here are several offerings that wine-folks might find helpful. . .
    I built a VERY serviceable wine rack that can be adapted to any location and any capacity at a cost of 25 cents per bottle. . .For example: a rack 6 ft wide and 8 ft high will hold 144 bottles and can be built in approximately 5-6 hrs for about $40 [I used most the MOST inexpensive pine and fir at the lumber yard--standard length studs and fencing planks] with handtools and an electric drill. . .It can be adapted to ANY space in increments of 16 inches each which will hold 4 bottles. . .the height is YOUR choice. (I had a basement area and was able to accommodate the 8 ft height and 6 ft width and actually built TWO such sections, accommodating almost 300 bottles)

    This wine rack also allows for EASY placement and removal of EACH bottle without disturbing any other bottle. It also has the added PLUS of providing easy READABILITY of each bottle’s complete label. If the rack will be in a “visible” location, the wood surface can be sanded, stained, and/or varnished. . .otherwise, who cares what it looks like??!! Only that it is stable and strong and serviceable!

    A good location is that “little” space on the side of every closet just to the right or left of the door. . .it is 16″-18″ wide and 8 ft high and probably the coolest place [temperature-wise] in your house or apartment. . .and, the temp varies relatively little from summer to winter. If you build the rack only 3 ft-4 ft high, you can still hang shirts, etc above it. . .and, if you use up all the wine and you’ve maxed-out your VISA, you can use the rack to store your shoes. . .until you’ve “cleared space” on the VISA card to purchase more wine!

    And, THAT’s what I call an informative article on wine cellaring.

  3. 3 Marshall (Wine Enthusiast Wine Storage Consultant) said:


    Thanks for your comment. I can appreciate the information you have given, and thank you for sharing with others about another inexpensive option of how to store wine. As you have pointed out, there are many different options for creating a wine cellar. The intention of the blog post was to help customers–and there are many–who are having trouble deciding between these two popular options. But the truth of the matter is, many people DO care about how their wine cellar looks, and DO use it as a showcase–even an entertaining room–in their home (Not everyone is just looking for a “serviceable” wine cellar). That is what makes collecting wine a wonderful hobby; everyone has different priorities in terms of their collection. I couldn’t agree more, that the most important aspect of the cellar is the temperature and humidity control. After all, the wine doesn’t care where it sits as long as it is laid down properly. But what we provide are various storage options for different customers’ wants and needs. If what you are stating in your comment was true, then everyone in this country would be driving low-cost economy cars to get from A to B, or would decorate their homes with a cost effective option. Whether it relates to cars, homes, furniture, or yes, even their wine cellar, people do have differing priorities. I know I strive to provide every option possible to my customers to help them make an educated decision on the wine cellar best suited for their wants and needs.

  4. 4 Brian Flaherty said:

    I should also have mentioned that the home wherein I “developed” my serviceable cellar was a 22 room residence which I operated as a B&B. And, I had plenty of room to put wine. Nevertheless, I still devised a space-saving racking system[I did NOT serve wine to guests because of a lack of licensing. . .However, I could always pour a glass for "friends who were having dinner". . and, among those "friends" were such as Hubrecht Duijker, generally acknowledged to be one of the world's premier experts on wine and specifically, the wines of France, Italy & Spain, with a host of books and guides to his credit]

    I now live in a MUCH smaller home in California and space IS at a premium, necessitating an “economical” approach to wine storage because I still have an extensive wine collection. I am in the process of refurbishing the house in order to house my books (over 8,000 volumes) AND the wine. And, aesthetics are a prime consideration. . .simply because I do NOT have a basement in which to “hide” an ugly rack system!

    I agree that many persons are very much into “showcasing” their wines. . .a sort of snobbery and elitism, that for more than a few, is as, or, even MORE, important than the wines themselves and the gustatory pleasures derived therefrom. I grew up within “rinse & spit” distance of the Napa & Sonoma Valleys and have had many a laugh at the “Mibs & Evans” of the yuppie world. who. with their tennis sweaters thrown casually OVER their shoulders and their sunglasses perched ATOP their heads, set forth on Sunday afternoons to “Tour the Wineries;” tasting and commenting with a Wine Spectator expertise on “chards” and “zins” and “cabs”. . .I confess to attending “wine tastings” in the homes of the “Intelligentsia” of Davis CA, where were passed around bottles in brown paper bags (to hide the labels) and then “rated”. . .[my confession is that there were several times when I replaced the contents of a name-brand bottle with "box wine" and watched with smug arrogance as that bottle of Vino de Crapola was scored as well or better than Robert Parker-rated 90-95's! My wife NEVER forgave me for this!]

    I will be the first to agree that “wine snobbery” is often half the fun of wines. . .Just as sharing a good bottle with a friend is another half the pleasure of wines. . .A third “half” is discovering a little winery, up in the hills somewhere that produces a superb wine or a number of wines–as I had the pleasure of last weekend in Amador County(Calif) when I discovered the Conti Estate and bought nearly a thousand dollars worth of current and future wines!

    And, lest this website feels slighted, a fourth “half” of the fun is writing a comment and posting it where it will be read and itself commented on. . .

    I don’t recall who said it. . .I’ve been saying it myself for years: “The best wine is the wine you like!” And, the best rack is that which serves YOUR purposes. . .be they as a showcase; a piece of furniture; or, just something to hold your wine!

  5. 5 Marshall (Wine Enthusiast Wine Storage Consultant) said:

    We here at Wine Enthusiast agree with you too. You are correct when you say: “The best wine is the wine you like!” And, the best rack is that which serves YOUR purposes. . .be that as a showcase; a piece of furniture; or, just something to hold your wine!

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