In­vest­ing in a home wine cel­lar

Montreal Gazette - - New Homes & Condos - ME­GAN MARTIN SPE­CIAL TO THE GAZETTE

When it comes to real es­tate, the con­cept of in­vest­ing isn’t exclusive to pur­chas­ing new prop­er­ties. There are many ways to in­vest in homes and con­dos al­ready in your pos­ses­sion and, in turn, in­crease their mar­ket value. A new pool, a kitchen up­grade, and in­tri­cate l and scap­ing are just some of the projects with the po­ten­tial for that sort of im­pact.

But as build­ing and de­sign tech­niques im­prove, more com­plex in­stal­la­tions be­come pos­si­ble, too, leading to ex­cit­ing new trends in home ren­o­va­tion — in­clud­ing the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of home wine cellars.

“Wine cellars are the dream room for wine afi­ciona­dos,” said Marc-Alain Lesage of 12° en Cave, a Mon­treal busi­ness spe­cial­iz­ing in wine-cel­lar de­sign and a man­u­fac­turer of wine rack­ing. “Cana­di­ans to­day are more and more knowl­edge­able about wine, and they love to have a collection at home.”

Many people start out with just a few bot­tles, but as they be­come in­creas­ingly se­ri­ous about their as­sort­ment of wines it be­comes es­sen­tial to have a proper stor­age sys­tem.

“They want to con­trol the en­vi­ron­ment and keep a closer eye on their grow­ing collection,” Lesage said.

Ten years ago, wine cellars were only in base­ments and their de­sign was very tra­di­tional — usu­ally in wood, with ac­cents of arches and stones.

“To­day the op­tions are nu­mer­ous, and while the tra­di­tional style is still pop­u­lar, con­tem­po­rary cellars are chang­ing to fit in with mod­ern liv­ing spa­ces with clean lines,” Marc-Alain Lesage said. “For in­stance, metal wine rack­ing is of­ten used for its sleek look — and we like to mix it in with the warm feel of wood.”

Wine cellars are be­com­ing a more com­mon show­piece in liv­ing spa­ces. In fact, cellars are be­ing in­stalled in kitchens, din­ing and liv­ing rooms, as their con­tem­po­rary de­signs serve both es­thetic and prac­ti­cal pur­poses.

“In the past, wine cellars were for real en­thu­si­asts with a goal of hav­ing 500 bot­tles or more,” Lesage said. “To­day, cellars are part of the decor of a home and are be­ing built by people who sim­ply en­joy wine and want to have their se­lec­tion dis­played beau­ti­fully.”

This re­mains true across the real-es­tate spec­trum, from large fam­ily homes to new condo de­vel­op­ments.

“We see it of­ten when own­ers of a large house move i nto a condo af­ter their kids are gone and they want to bring a part of their wine collection with them,” Lesage said.

If you de­cide a wine cel­lar is right for you, the eas­i­est time to have one in­stalled is dur­ing the con­struc­tion of a new property or the ren­o­va­tion of an ex­ist­ing struc­ture.

“It’s sim­plest to do it at that stage be­cause you have to pre­pare and iso­late walls, ceil­ings and floor­ing in the area in which the cel­lar is be­ing in­stalled,” Lesage said. “To con­trol the tem­per­a­ture in the cel­lar, cool­ing units need to be in­stalled be­fore the walls are closed, so you need a gen­eral con­trac­tor that will pre­pare the space ac­cord­ing to those plans.”

While there aren’t many pre­req­ui­sites to pur­chas­ing a wine cel­lar, hav­ing the right amount of space, work­ing with knowl­edge­able pro­fes­sion­als, and plan­ning prop­erly are all key.

“The en­tire process can take four to six weeks and the prepa­ra­tion of the room is of­ten the long­est part,” Lesage said. “This en­tails putting in the elec­tric­ity, tiles, paint, and rack­ing. The in­stal­la­tion of wine racks and fur­ni­ture can take from a few hours to a few days to com­plete.”

In ad­di­tion, any glass walls or doors have to be cus­tom-made.

While ca­pac­ity is im­por­tant, many con­sumers are opt­ing for smaller cellars, es­pe­cially when it comes to units in­stalled in liv­ing spa­ces.

“The aver­age cel­lar fits 500 to 1,500 bot­tles, but we’re see­ing more and more small wine cellars of 100 to 200 bot­tles, par­tic­u­larly when we talk about glass cage units,” Lesage said.

When you start to col­lect wine and choose to build a cel­lar, it’s cru­cial to keep in mind that you’re go­ing to keep bot­tles for many years, so the low turnover rate needs to be con­sid­ered in your de­ci­sion about the ca­pac­ity of the cel­lar.

“On the other hand, you don’t want to have a big empty room and have to rush to buy any wine just to fill the shelves,” Lesage added. “That’s why you re­ally have to plan, think it through, and ex­plore all your op­tions.”

Whether you’re a bon vi­vant with an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the finer things, or a se­ri­ous wine col­lec­tor seek­ing proper stor­age, a cel­lar can be a stun­ning ad­di­tion to your home or condo.


To­day’s wine cellars are no longer con­fined to the base­ment of a home; they are be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly com­mon show­piece in ar­eas such as kitchens, liv­ing and din­ing rooms. Cus­tom­made glass doors al­low wine afi­ciona­dos to dis­play their col­lec­tions to ad­van­tage and metal wine rack­ing, with its sleek ap­pear­ance, is of­ten used to add to the vis­ual ef­fect.

The best time to in­stall a wine cel­lar — whether in the base­ment or as part of the liv­ing room — is dur­ing the con­struc­tion of a new property or ren­o­va­tion of an ex­ist­ing struc­ture. Re­gard­less of its size, the cel­lar re­quires spe­cial cool­ing units, walls (in this case, cus­tom-made glass ones) and floor­ing.


This cus­tom-built, ma­hogany wine cel­lar in the base­ment of a Mon­treal man­sion can ac­com­mo­date 5,000 bot­tles of wine.


Gazette wine colum­nist Bill Zacharkiw, in the hum­ble but well-stocked wine cel­lar of his home north of Mon­treal. It might not be built of ma­hogany, or grace his liv­ing room in glassed-in splen­dour, but this space nev­er­the­less serves as re­li­ably cool stor­age for the wines he val­ues and en­joys.

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