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DIY – Building A Wine Cellar 2010

So, I have started building a wine cellar here at the winery. This will be my personal cellar, and not attached to the winery, but I will use it for both until I get bonded. I wanted to get in some practice building something like this so that when I expand and build a much bigger one, there will not be any surprises.

To begin, we started with a out shed, that was 8×9 feet. Seems like an odd size for a shed, but hey, it was here when I moved in. We have never used it mainly because it was a wasp haven. Wasps loved to find their way inside and build lots and lots of nests. But it is partly shaded from the afternoon sun, and seemed like a good location for my wine cellar.

The first step, we had to clean it up, years of neglect and wasps nests had done their toll, so it got a good cleaning.

Then we moved on to plugging all of the holes, and cracks, etc where the bugs were getting in. This was no small feat, because the way it was built, the roof overlaps the walls, and they left a 2 inch gap around the top to let hot air escape.

Next in the process, we modified the existing window to put in a window A/C unit. This is a 18,000 BTU air conditioner we picked up from home depot. It is the perfect size to cool down this room fast, and not draw out too much moisture in the process. As we will be keeping it at a pleasant 55 degrees, this was the only way to go. Now, there are some very nice wine cellar specific cooling units, but with a little modification, you can actually make a regular window a/c unit blow super cold air and cool the room down to 55 degrees. This will be covered in a later post, but basically you trick the machine into thinking its warmer than it really is in the room. A window air conditioner will typically blow at 20 degrees below room temperature. So when the room gets down to near 60 the air it is blowing out is actually 40 degrees. So making the sensor believe its a little warmer, keeps the machine on just a little longer until the temp is down right at 55 degrees F.

Then we started with some R-13 insulation. This was all I could put in the 2×4″ walls. Now at this point you are thinking hey wait a moment, don’t you need a vapor barrier there? Well the answer is yes and no. If I was going to stop at just fiberglass insulation, then yes I would need a vapor barrier there, because water would condense on the outer walls and rot my wood and ruin the insulation. But I am not done yet. Now we are putting in 4″ of expanded polystyrene (think Styrofoam) which is R-16, and that will be topped with a 1/2″ R-3 board of rigid polyisocyanurate foam insulation. Because we will be using a rigid foam insulation on the inside, the temperature differential will be almost negligible on the outside where the moisture is, and thus no condensation. When done the walls will be insulated to R-32 and the ceiling to R-45. I am undecided yet on the floor, but It will probably be insulated with 2 ” foam board that has R-13.

Here is what I envision it to look like when I am done.

Well, in the middle there, is where my AC unit is, so it will be slightly different, but you get the idea. I am hoping to be able to keep around 800 bottles in there at max capacity.

I will post more videos as we near completion, and even more when I start building the wine racks.

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