How to Control the Humidity in Your Wine Cellar

If you love wine, you may have already begun a collection, or you’re hoping to start in earnest. Perhaps you’ve taken a trip or two to a vineyard and come home with wine to drink now and some to save for the future. Maybe you’ve got a few bottles, or perhaps your collection is vast and the envy of all your wine-loving friends. Hopefully, you’ve built a wine cellar into your home to make sure your collection, big or small or beginning but growing, is appropriately cared for and allowed to age properly into the future. One of the most essential factors in wine storage is creating and maintaining the ideal humidity in your wine cellar.

Creating Your Custom Wine Cellar

When some people hear the phrase “wine cellar,” they imagine a generous space devoted to both wine storage and tasting events. If you can devote the space and resources to creating a vast custom space, you should go for it! You won’t regret it, and it will boost your resale value if you eventually put your home on the market. If you simply don’t have space or now is not the time for a major project, you should still take the necessary steps to store your wine with care. A wine cellar can be anything from an entertainment space with wine storage and a tasting room to a small but climate-controlled wine storage space within an existing room or bar area in your home. What both of these spaces have in common is that they create and maintain ideal conditions for storing and aging wine. 

The Ideal Conditions

Most homes are not situated in an ideal climate for wine storage. There’s a reason wine was historically stored and aged in caves. Most people need help to keep their home, even the basement, at a constant temperature and humidity. For wine, that temperature is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, maybe cooler for white wine and certainly for white you plan to drink soon. Humidity maintenance is also essential for wine storage and aging.

Relative humidity for wine storage should be between 50 and 70 percent.

Too high and you risk mold and mustiness and the degradation of the corks and labels. Too low and your cork could dry up, even for bottles stored on their sides. A dry cork allows the environment into your wine! 

Controlling the Conditions

Depending on where you live, your home might spend much of the year at a temperature and relative humidity conducive to wine storage. You might imagine you can just about get away with putting wine on a shelf in the basement and hoping for the best. Still, if you’re hoping to age bottles of wine with sentimental or financial value, you should not rely on the natural environment exclusively. Homes in northern climates will experience swings in temperature between summer and winter and between cycles of heating and air conditioning. Northern climates and in the winter experience a relative humidity akin to the desert. The desert is much  too dry for your wine to thrive. Homes in the west or middle of the country might spend much of the year enjoying the right climate, but not quite, and homes in the deep south are likely too hot and too humid most of the year to make your wine happy. 

Wine Cellar Humidity

A professionally designed and installed wine cellar will include several elements. Work with a professional to plan how much space you can carve out and what you would like your wine cellar to include. The space, no matter the size, will include storage and racks to keep your wine accessible and, for those bottles you plan to hold on to for a while, tucked away safely. 

The cellar will also include a climate control system independent from the rest of your house. The system will keep your wine storage at a constant temperature that is ideal for the wine you store, regardless of the temperature outside. The climate control system should also include a humidifier, most likely integrated with the heating and cooling system, so the two systems can work together. 

Finally, your space will need to be sealed with a vapor barrier so that all the work your systems are doing to keep conditions ideal for your wine is not slowly being undermined by the environment in the rest of the house. The vapor barrier will be installed on the warm side, the outside, of the cellar space, to prevent condensation, which can lead to mildew. A sound vapor barrier will ensure the climate control and humidity control systems will have very little work to do as humidity can be maintained at an ideal level and affected only when you open the door. 

Working With An Expert

You get a lot of joy from your wine collection, and you’re probably hoping to keep it safe and watch some bottles appreciate over time. A wine cellar can be expansive and store hundreds of bottles of wine or smaller and carved out of the space you’ve got to work with. With years of experience and expertise in designing and installing wine cellars, Harkraft is the ideal partner to help you achieve the perfect wine cellar for you and your collection. Contact us today to get started on your