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25. Underground Cellars – Are They Cold Enough To Cellar Wine?

There is no doubt that we’d all love a truly subterranean cellar to hide away and enjoy our wines and watch them mature gracefully. Even better if it’s got a secret door hey? Many of us romanticise this idea based on our fond memories of grandparents with old cellars where you would walk into this naturally cool space year round (perhaps even with some cured meats maturing), or the “caves” in Champagne, Burgundy and other wine regions in Europe.

It is commonly known that earth or soil is a great insulator so doesn’t it make sense that positioning your cellar underground will be sufficient to provide your wine with a cool, temperature controlled environment? Well yes and no. True underground cellars have metres of earth protecting them around the perimeter, and most importantly ABOVE the cellar to keep the space cool. Interestingly, 2 metres of earth is equivalent to 5cm of modern insulation product.

Many of the “underground” cellars we see designed in Australia are often protected not by earth, but by concrete which is a very poor insulator. Even worse, these spaces generally open into basement car parks and garages so the warm air comes straight in through the surrounding walls, or are largely underground except for a concrete slab above which poses the same issues. Add to this, the increasingly warm Summers that Australia is experiencing and it is not difficult to understand why we receive many calls at this time of the year from concerned wine lovers whose cellars are simply not keeping to correct temperature.

Wine requires a constant temperature of 14°C to mature as the wine maker intended. Trying to retro fit insulation and a cellar conditioner such as the EuroCave equivalent after building your cellar can be a messy and costly process. PLEASE consider insulation and installing a cellar conditioner in the planning stages of your cellar. Without these you will achieve very little – the end result will just be a partly underground “hot box” storage area, something that we see far too often. Achieving 14°C is never as easy as people think. Unless you have access to a real cave to keep your wine collection cool, it is best to talk to a cellar expert upfront – it might save you some money and pain later on.

EuroCave works with home owners, architects and builders on a daily basis. We are able to offer you expert advice on designing your cellar to create the perfect conditions for your wine.

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