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While traditional wine cellars made use of redwood—a humidity-resistant wood that’s both handsome and versatile—what’s trending now, below and above ground are materials like glass and metal integrated with elaborate LED lighting systems that create a feeling of high design.
Houses are not the only homes to feature customized wine centers. In many apartments, stand-alone “caves” are integrated into a wine bar with wall racking or enclosed behind a dedicated, temperature-controlled glass-enclosed room adjacent to a living space.
With the design evolution of the cellar comes advances in technology, too—everything from apps that integrate with existing smart-home technology to control temperature and humidity, to thumbprint-reader security systems. Many collectors rely on online inventory management tools like the free CellarTracker, which includes user-generated reviews and tasting notes (additional features available with a paid membership). The $4,000 eSommelier system uses a proprietary system consisting of touch-screen terminal, bar code scanner and a wine barcode printer that enables collectors to locate their bottles and control the inventory at the tap of a key. It also integrates with tasting notes and reviews of wine publications to which a collector subscribes (Wine Spectator or Wine Advocate, for example).
“Either you want to go all out or not,” says Tilden, noting most clients balance their needs and investments between display and storage.
Navarro says his teams at Wally’s are practiced in helping clients suss out their needs, including cellar-design and collection services.
“We try to pay attention to the client and discover what they need,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t even know that themselves and we help them along. We have the 19th century ideals of what a wine merchant was—to find clients what they need at any cost.”