Bracksco Logo:  3 wine bottles on VintageView rack Bracksco Wine Nook
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Bracksco Logo:  3 wine bottles on VintageView rack

If you want a "successful" wine room, the importance of this step cannot be underemphasized.  You must plan nearly every detail of your room before lifting a finger in the parts ordering or construction phases.  Here are some of items you need to consider:

  1. Desired capacity (number of bottles).  The overall dimensions of your room will put a cap on this number.  You don't have to install all the potential racking at once, but decide how big you might like to get eventually.
  2. Expandability.  If you are unsure of item 1, will you be able to expand the room later?  If that's a desire and an option (i.e., space is available), choose your room layout and the size of the cooler carefully to allow for this possibility.
  3. Electricity.  As a rock-bottom minimum you will need a light with a pullchain (ugly!), and if you have a cooler, you will need an outlet for it.  The cooler is best allocated a separate circuit (the larger the room the more important, but always preferable).  Are you prepared to do the wiring, or will you need to hire an electrician?
  4. Backup power.  If you have a cooler and the power goes out in the middle of summer, you could have a big problem.  Having a separate circuit for your cooler is a helpful start in preparing for this problem.  As a backup solution, you might want to install a separate outlet in the wine room terminating somewhere and somehow such that you could attach it to a portable generator outside.
  5. Wall thickness.  If your wine room is completely interior to the house (no outside walls), you may be able to get away with standard 2x4s, which normally contain R11 insulation (but for which you can also buy R13-R15 insulation, which is better).  But if your wine room has any outside walls, a wall that gets sun, a wall in a warmer than average room, etc., you should seriously considering making the wall thicker.  Suggestions are contained in the section on building walls.
  6. Ceiling and floor.  They need to be insulated, too.  If the ceiling is also the house roof, you need 9" minimum for insulation.  If the floor is concrete, you may wish to build a false floor.
  7. Vapor barrier.  A vapor barrier is a must, all the way around -- on the warm side.  Usually 6mm poly film is used.
  8. Door.  You don't want to use an ordinary inside door for your wine room.  Ideally you will use a heavily insulated steel door, like the ones used between a garage and a house.  Although less efficient, you may be installing a windowed door, too.  But if you do, make sure that your door will fit before you commit!  (For example, in the Bracksco wine room, the ceiling slopes, and the location of the wine room is such that the door had to open inward.  If we had installed a wider door, it would have hit the ceiling before it was fully open.)
  9. VintageView rackDesign SampleInside dimensions.  After you have figured out your wall, floor, and ceiling situation, you should take a look at inside dimensions of your wine room, after the walls and wall coverings are added.  The reason this is important is to gain maximum advantage for your wine racking without wasted space.  For example, if you are using the VintageView wine racks (pictured right) formerly sold by Bracksco, each column takes up exactly 13 inches; so a rear wall which is an exact multiple of 13 inches is a perfect fit.  An inch or so over is no big deal, but a couple of inches short will leave you with not enough room for a final column and a lot of wasted space.  (Keep in mind that VintageView racks can go the full length of the wall and still have the side walls butt the bottles up against the rack in single-depths, whereas traditional cork-forward racking causes you to lose the space of each corner, or potentially waste a lot of space in a curve.)  So ... experiment with layouts before finalizing dimensions. 
  10. Cooler positioning.  Sounds simple; but coolers generally mount between studs, so you'll only be able to position your cooler wherever the studs happen to fall (without some fancy carpentry).  In your particular room, there simply may be no choice where it goes; but if you have options, consider them now, so the cooler doesn't end up smack dab in the middle of your showcase wall of wine.  Ideally, the cooler will not be on the wall opposite the door (if that's your longer wall and full of racks).  Also, you need to be able to get to the back of the cooler at least annually to clean the cooling fins.
  11. Your skills.  Are you up for this project?  How much can you do on your own?  What kind of help will you need?  Do you need someone with a truck to haul some 4x8 wood panels?  Do you have the tools and skills to cut sections of wood to fit?  Perhaps you can do all but the electrical.  Etc.  Figure out in advance what you can and can't do and where you can go (and how much it will cost) for help.

OK!  Now that you have thought through the entire room and have laid it out on paper thoroughly, you are ready to begin work.

And now, let's continue with Step 2:  Deconstruct.

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