The shelves are the same design as
in the prototype wine rack.
In 2010, I built a "prototype" wine rack to accommodate
our good wine
that we bought in Napa. The idea was to figure out a
design that looked
good and was functional, but also to get the wine out of
the boxes that
they were in and on their sides so the corks didn't dry
The problem that we discovered is that the wine was aging
and going bad
in months when it should have lasted for years. After
learning what we
now know about wine, this unfortunate outcome should have
surprise considering the temperature (average 78 degrees
F) and low
humidity at which we stored the wine. Ideally, wine should
be stored at
55 degrees F and at 50-70% humidity.
This prompted us to come up with a new rathskeller design.
following is the initial schematic that I came up with.
The idea was to
build old-school shelves, like the ones in the prototype,
but into all
of the walls. After that, wall the whole room in and
refrigerate it. I
wasn't quite sure how to accomplish this so in true
engineer form, I
just started building, hoping that inspiration would
strike when needed.
I knew that we needed to humidify the room somehow so in
while at a Thunderbird Artists festival, we asked a
named Greg Kinne to make us a fountain. We had admired his
years and had been talking about where we would even put a
decided that the rathskeller is the perfect place for one
besides being the centerpiece, it will provide the
humidity that the
rathskeller needs. Greg told us that the fountain would
take at least a
couple of months to build, which was fine because the
construction would take at least that long.
Construction begins. The plan is to have 13 rows of
shelves that wrap
all of the walls, with a space on the back wall for the
design will accommodate about 490 bottles. The first step
building the base that will support the bottom racks, as
well as the
platform on the back wall that will support the fountain.
The vertical shelf supports are dadoed to hold the racks
tapered to give the racks a staircase look.
As with the shelf designs for the office prototype and
boiler room, I
installed wall supports for the racks so that they won't
flex from the
weight of the bottles.
The corner shelves were an attempt to make the best use of
looking really cool. I made these by cutting each wine
bottle neck and
body support piece individually and attaching them to the
critical errors in the
construction, forcing me to undo everything that I had
installed. While researching wine cellar construction, I
critical requirements that I had NOT done:
1. A vapor barrier (which is simply heavy plastic
sheeting) MUST be
installed between behind the insulation.
2. Insulation should be at least R30 for the ceiling and
R19 for the
3. Drywall should be moisture and mold resistant "green"
board, such as the kind used in bathrooms
I asked some experts about what would happen if I didn't
first. They all concurred that the worst of the
include mold growing behind the walls and the AC unit
due to overwork. Damn.
Let the demolition begin!
After safely removing the racks and supports that I had
installed and storing them in the basement light well, I
tore out all
of the drywall.
During this process, I made an interesting discovery:
of them. Fortunately, they were all dead but they covered
the top side
of the ceiling drywall and were inside all of the walls. A
years ago, bees made a hive inside one of the exterior
walls. I had an
exterminator come out and kill the hive and seal the gap
they came in but had forgotten about it until now.
After demolition, I framed the entry wall and doorway. I
opening above the doorway to accommodate the air
Once framing was done, I drywalled the outer entry wall
entire inside walls and ceiling with 6-mil plastic for the
I used the insulation that was in the walls before
(removing all of the
bees first) but had to double the thickness of the ceiling
I also removed the can lights that were in the ceiling and
the air conditioning outlet to outside the rathskeller
the rathskeller would be getting its own AC unit.
The next step was installing the new drywall.
Taping, mudding, texturing, and painting took the longest
because I was
out of town for a few weeks in March and April and didn't
free time to work on it.
The AC unit that I acquired is specifically for wine
cellars because in
addition to keeping the space at 55 degrees, it also tries
50-75% humidity. I fabricated a steel shelf to support the
AC unit. I
welded a ring to the bottom of the shelf where the AC's
drain plug is
in order to access the drain hose.
A view of the installed unit and shelf inside the
This is also the first glimpse of the color scheme, which
Red (a dull crimson, which is the primary color used) and
Rare Wine (a
dark purple used for accents). The paint is an exterior,
Finally, I resume where I left off before demolition. The
go back in but this time EVERYTHING gets painted. There
can't be ANY
exposed wood unless I want to risk mold growth.
Anya, my ever-present helper in the garage, supervises
the corner shelves.
Although I wanted to wait until all of the construction
the fountain that we had built was done and the niche to
was ready. Greg Kinne came over and installed the
Finally the corner shelves are finished. There are a total
shelves; 13 on each side, the total accommodating 172
After the corner towers, I start construction on the
These are 13 rows of shelves, each accommodating 12
26 of these straight
shelves built, each
accommodating 12 bottles.
It's pretty much finished at this point. I added a wireless temperature and moisture
sensor in case the AC dies or the fountain leaks water for some reason. I also bought a higher-capacity AC unit because
the current one is too small for the room and runs
constantly but it has
kept the room at the proper temperature without issue so
far so I haven't installed the