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Wine Cellar Design Is Fun, Insuring Your Collection a Must

Wine cellar design is one of the most pleasurable parts of enhancing your passion for fine wine, and so is discovering and exploring the world’s wine regions through research, tastings, and even travel—and then curating and building a collection.

After you collect enough cases of fine wine, it’s time to seek out Fred Tregaskis of Summit Wine Cellars to apply his decades of experience in wine cellar design to properly protect your collection.  You can turn part of your basement or another room into a proper wine cellar with climate control.  There’s another very important step many people aren’t aware of—insuring the wine collection similarly to how art, jewelry and other valuables in the house are insured.

Home insurance policies don’t typically cover collections of wine, which can be damaged or destroyed by everything from extended power outages to break-ins, other types of theft, and water damage, as well as catastrophic events like earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.

“Have you considered what might happen if your expensive wine collection is damaged or outright destroyed by an unexpected event?” Square One Insurance Services asks in its website post about insuring wine collections. Without insurance, the answer is likely a major financial loss.

In a post about insuring wine collections, The Wine Spectator explains that if “you have a collection worth several thousand dollars, there are two options worth considering: a blanket policy or a stand-alone wine insurance policy. Both cost about the same and give you considerably better coverage than a standard homeowner’s policy.” A blanket policy is generally recommended for collections whose bottles are valued at less than $1,000 each.

“You can either insure the collection under a blanket amount, such as $50,000—or, if your collection contains individual high-value bottles, you may wish to insure each bottle separately,” The Horton Group explains on its website, noting that wine insurance policies may include the following:

  • Protection against damages due to fire, theft or accidental breakage
  • Protection against mechanical breakdowns in the climate control unit that damages wine
  • Protection against label damage in a fire, flood or other natural disaster. For many rare, vintage wines, the label increases the value of the wine.
  • Access to vendors who ship, buy and sell wine. Vendors who store wine in another location; vendors who offer security systems for your collection and vendors offering temperature-control systems

Insuring your wine collection actually begins with wine cellar design, according to Tregaskis, whose integrates key safety and security elements into his design process that insurers are looking for when considering policies for collections.

Among other features, Summit Wine Cellars focuses on:

  • Wine cellar design for security. That means locks and movement detectors, in part. “Safe wine cellar design keeps the cleaning lady or gardener honest … or your 16 year old kids who may be curious,” Tregaskis says.
  • Incorporating climate control into your wine cellar design to keep the temperature and humidity at the right levels. 55- 60 degrees, dark, quiet. “Replicate the underground storage conditions of the wineries and estates in Europe,” Tregaskis advises.
  • Wine cellar design to keep bottles and cases of wine safely above the floor in case of unexpected water damage.

When it comes to properly insuring your wine collection, considerations go far beyond wine cellar design.

“If you store your collection in multiple locations, you will need to purchase coverage for each location. If one of those locations is a professional storage warehouse, the warehouse may already have wine insurance. It is wise to go over their policy to ensure it protects against the risk of fire, flood, power outage and more,” The Horton Group says. It’s also wise, according to Tregaskis and Summit Wine Cellars, to investigate if wine cellar design best practices for safety and security have been utilized at off-premises storage locations.

It’s not just the wines you should be careful to insure, but also the results of that pleasurable wine cellar design process.

“Don’t forget about insuring the wine cellar itself,” Square One Insurance Services says. “If the racking or inventory systems are damaged, a specialty company may be able to provide coverage for this. If the storage area has been designed especially to store wine at a controlled temperature and level of humidity, the cost to rebuild your home may have gone up. Your insurer will need to increase the limit on your homeowner’s policy in order to provide the right amount of coverage to rebuild this portion of your home in the event of a loss. If you have a free-standing wine cabinet, you’ll need to make sure you have sufficient coverage under your contents limit. To be properly insured, make sure to discuss any specialty storage area with your insurance provider.”

The good news is that insuring a wine collection doesn’t have to be expensive, according to Chubb, one of the premier insurers of wine that helps safeguard collections around the world with a program called Masterpiece.

In its online Guide To Insuring Your Wine Collection, Chubb explains: “Masterpiece provides “all-risk” coverage for wine. This means you are protected against a broad range of losses, including fire, theft, breakage and spoilage due to mechanical breakdown of the wine fridge. … .” As for the cost, “On average, annual coverage costs about £0.45 per £100 of coverage. For example, insurance for a wine collection valued at £50,000 would cost approximately £225 per annum.”

Those figures are presented in British Sterling. In U.S. dollars currently, insuring a wine collection worth $63,500 would cost approximately $286, according to Chubb’s estimates.

Sounds like a bargain for protecting your valuable fine wines and your equally valuable wine cellar design.

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Fred Tregaskis first developed a passion for wine during his art school years, when he worked in the New York’s Hudson Valley vineyards. Years later, after working for a national wine magazine, he was given the opportunity to design and build a 28,000-bottle cellar for Lespinasse Restaurant at the St. Regis Hotel in New York—and in the process Summit Wine Cellars took root.

Tregaskis and Summit Wine Cellars have created dramatic custom wine cellars for clients throughout the world, from Maine to California, and Bangalore to Buenos Aries.

Tregaskis also writes about wine, conducts tastings and hosts a radio show on wine for NPR station WHDD/Robin Hood Radio based in Sharon Conn.

To learn more about Summit Wine Cellars, LLC, contact Summit Wine Cellars by email at info@summit-cellars.com, or by phone at 203-916-1664.