Man probably has been cellaring wine since the first vintner placed his skin of grape juice in a cool cave for storage. But the first record of wine storage for enhanced flavors was from the ancient Greeks, who stored wine in amphorae in cool caves and valued aged wines.
“Wine brings to light the hidden secrets of the soul, gives being to our hopes, bids the coward flight, drives dull care away, and teaches new means for the accomplishment of our wishes.” —Horace
Ancient Romans were prolific vintners and had vineyard holdings in places as far away as Burdiglia, or Bordeaux as it is now known, where the quality of wine was highly valued. They had three distinct styles of producing wine, which led to the three distinct styles we recognize today: the left bank (Haut-Medoc), the right bank (Cheval Blanc), and Petras Leogan (Graves)
Naturally aged wines were prized by the Romans and fetched a hefty sum on the market. Early oenophiles didn’t rely on wine cellar design, as wine producers aged wine in underground caves where consistent conditions allowed the wine to mature in a steady environment.
As the Roman Empire’s power dwindled, so did the production and interest in the consumption of wine. During the Medieval period, products made from grain, such as beer and apple cider, became more popular.
But by the 16th century, the Mediterranean region was quickly establishing itself as a wine producer with sweet and fortified wines such as Malmsey and Sack. Germany began to produce Riesling, which, with its high acidity and sugar ,made it a perfect candidate for cellaring. People who could afford wine began to design wine cellars in the basements of their estates where passive wine cellar cooling was a natural solution to wine cellar climate control.
“Wine made from Riesling is quite unlike any other. It is generally light in alcohol, refreshingly high in fruity natural acidity (quite different from the harshness of added acid), has the ability to transmit the character of a place through its extract and unique aroma and, unlike Chardonnay, is capable of ageing for decades in bottle.” —Jancis Robinson, British wine writer
During the 17th century, the use of glass bottles and corks became popular, and changed the way wine was stored, served and consumed. Bottles rather than barrels were stored in wine cellars and could be brought to the table with less effort, as well as reducing the chance of compromising the wine as with barrels. Wine cellar design incorporated the inclusion of wine racks and bins and continued to use the advantages of passive wine cellar cooling and humidity control.
“My dear girl, there are some things that are just not done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38° Fahrenheit.”
—James Bond in Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger
Modern wine cellar design now incorporates the use of mechanical wine cellar climate control systems that allow wine cellar builders to construct wine rooms anywhere from the basement to the penthouse of a building. The use of woods, metal, glass, and plastics are also available for dramatic and artistic wine cellar display and functional storage. The use of remote monitoring systems allows for security of wine cellar collectors to access their wine cellar climate from anywhere in the world.
Today in cooperation with a professional wine cellar designer and the wonderful choices of mechanical systems and wine rack material, it has never been easier to design a wine cellar as unique as you.
About Fred Tregaskis & Summit Wine Cellars
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 and the wine cellar design process, contact Summit Wine Cellars by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.