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Modern wine cellar design was apparently on the minds of the judges when CNN recently named the best wineries and vineyards for 2019.

“Forget crumbling chateaux in the French countryside. For the ultimate vineyard vacation, try a Bond villain-style lair in the majestic mountains and valleys of South America,” the story begins, referring to the Zuccardi Valle de Uco, which “unveiled a stunning new modernist bodega in 2016 … .”

That bodega features a wine storage space that pushes wine cellar design into the future. A massive full-circle metal storage system surrounds a circular concrete floor anchored by a modernist sculpture garden in the center; the sculpture is a boulder perched atop smaller rocks.

Other examples of award-winning wineries embracing modern and contemporary style abound on CNN’s list, which highlights the modern wineries mentioned below, among others:

“South Australia’s d’Arenberg Cube … whose five levels include a wine sensory room, a virtual fermenter and an Alternate Realities Museum, is an ultramodern experience deep in the McLaren Vale region.

Chile’s Clos Apalta … designed by Roberto Benavente Riquelme and Amercanda Office, is a six-level structure of wood, glass and steel — complete with wine library, while Argentina’s Catena Zapata … boasts a pyramid-like design inspired by Mayan architecture.”

Modern Wine Cellar Design & Summit Wine Cellars

“People will come to me for a wine cellar and I will say, ‘Hey would you like to do something different than the other guys, something bespoke?’” says Fred Tregaskis, the wine cellar design authority and owner of Summit Wine Cellars, which creates bespoke wine cellar designs for clients all over the world.

Some clients are wedded to the timeless designs inspired by the wine caves of European tradition—which is understandable and appreciated by wine cellar designers—while others are intrigued by the idea of modern flourishes but not ready to go all-in on modern design.

“How about if we put a little metal in with that wood?” Tregaskis asks them. “They almost always love that idea. It’s gotten to be more and more popular.”

Tregaskis calls blending traditional and modern elements “transitional” wine cellar design.

A cellar he designed for a post-and-beam house in the Eastern Townships of Quebec features thick slabs of oak arranged vertically, with large stone slabs sourced from a nearby quarry insert horizontally into grooves routed in the wood. Tregaskis’ innovative use of two traditional wine cellar design materials resulted in a cellar that expertly gives the traditional design ethos a modern feel.

“There was a nice sense of generosity and solidity. Everything was a little oversize,” Tregaskis said. “It looked really solid and it wasn’t expensive because all the materials were right there.”

“I love working with steel and a blending of materials can be pretty exciting,” said Tregaskis, describing another project in which he took advantage of a walnut tree had fallen down in storm on a client’s property. He had the log milled at a lumberyard but left the bark on. “I had two-inch-thick slabs of walnut that I used vertically, and then used the black metal to create X’s and bins for bottle storage and display. It’s really sharp.”

Full Embrace of Modern Wine Cellar Design

Traditional is nice, transitional wine cellar design has lots of fans, and many of Summit Wine Cellars’ clients fully embrace a modern/contemporary design adventure with Tregaskis to create wine cellars that are modern, often minimal, and employ concrete, steel and other metals, and glass to show off the collection.

Tregaskis recalls one wine cellar design for a Manhattan penthouse in which he used just glass and black steel cubes to hold bottles. “That was a neat look,” he says.

A wine cellar in Ridgefield, Conn., reflects his most recent modern design “It’s very clean and simple,” says Tregaskis. Grey oak cabinetry in the wine cellar reflects the natural concrete floor and walls, while recessed low voltage LED lighting lends a soft dramatic effect. This modern wine cellar design includes the use of Plexiglas, and brushed stainless wine racking offers a clean and efficient display of the bottles.

“We did back lighting, which made all the difference,” Tregaskis says. “It made a huge difference on the presentation of that wine to create dramatic effect.”

On the commercial side of wine cellar design, restaurants in urban settings typically want to use glass to show off the wine and the notable labels.

“There’s a lot more horizontal display in modern wine cellars,” says Tregaskis, meaning bottles are displayed with the side, and labels, facing out. In traditional wine cellar design, bottles are stacked in bins, cubes, or racking so that the labels face upward and the foil caps face outward.

Modern wine cellar materials used in Ridgefield, CT

How a Modern Wine Cellar Design Comes Together

Summit Wine Cellars has its own dedicated manufacturing facility in Connecticut, where expert craftsmen fabricate all the components—in wood, metal, glass and other materials—to the exacting standards contained in Tregaskis’ wine cellar designs.

Those bespoke components of each unique cellar are shipped to each cellar location and assembled there by Summit Wine Cellars, before the final flourishes and finishing touches are added.

Wine wall with modern materials for a Cape Cod cellar

The Wine Cellar Design Bottom Line

“I think it’s important that the wine cellar be fun because wine itself is fun. It should be generous and big and a cool place to go hangout,” says Tregaskis. “It’s the wine that’s the star of the show. I’m really making a pedestal for the wine.”

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Fred 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. To learn more about Summit Wine Cellars, LLC and the wine cellar design process, contact Summit Wine Cellars by email at info@summit-cellars.com, or by phone at 203-916-1664. Make sure to see the Portfolio page for examples of Summit’s traditional and modern wine cellar design.