Best Cellar Tips
Ben Benoit of Cellar Masters in Newbury Park, California, has created hundreds of ambitious designs over the past 20 years, including the glass-enclosed rooms featured in the book Living with Wine. But many of his ideas work just as well in more modest cellars. “I like basic technology, like the rope lighting (small bulbs inside plastic tubing) that is often used on the floors of movie theaters,” Benoit says. “It’s better to have more money left over to buy wine.”
In a Las Vegas dining room, Benoit installed blue LED lights on two sides of a glass wine cabinet. In other cabinets, he sometimes lines shelves with rope lighting from Duralight. “It emits almost no heat, has a lifetime of about 20,000 hours and is inexpensive,” Benoit says. “Plus it works on a dimmer” (from $67 for 30 feet; sldlighting.com).
Benoit always builds in climate controls to keep his cellars at 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but he thinks "the whole issue of humidity in a wine cellar is overblown." Among the few exceptions are cellars in very dry climates, like in Las Vegas.
Wire Bottle Racks
Wall-mounted stainless steel racks from VintageView hold bottles three-deep and make them appear to float in midair (from $80 for a 36-bottle rack; vintageview.com).
In a Simi Valley, California, room that the owner calls the "man cave," Benoit highlights the cellar by dividing it from the bar with half-inch-thick tempered glass, like the kind used for shower doors.
Though the bar area has hardwood floors, Benoit installed tile in the wine room because wood tends to warp in cellars.
A sink may be useful in a bar, but Benoit doesn't recommend having one in a wine cellar: "It's expensive to plumb hot and cold water lines."