When you think of a wine cellar you picture a dark room with lots of wood and bold Italian architecture. But this traditional style may not fit your sleek, 21st Century home. We are starting to see collectors choose modern over traditional designs for their cellar. There are many things to consider when deciding if the modern cellar design is right for you.


What is Modern?

Modern design, an ambiguous term, can be easier defined by the materials it includes. Glass and metal, combined with clean lines and industrial lighting, can give any space a modern feel. Stainless steel is your best option for metal because it will survive the cellar’s climate. While these materials may give you the look you want, keep in mind their upkeep. Glass and stainless steel require frequent cleaning because they easily accumulate dust and fingerprints.

Another element that adds to modern design is technology. In 2016, you have the capability of controlling the functions of your cellar by a remote or tablet. These functions can range from temperature controls to lighting design. Unlike traditional cellars, the wide array of technological features blend seamlessly with a modern look.


Glass Half Empty

Living in Arizona we face a dangerous predator, the sun. Have you ever been in your car for a long time and end up with sunburn on one side of your face? That’s because glass is not powerful enough to completely block UV rays. Glass walls and doors may be a beautiful look for your cellar but can have harmful consequences. UV light causes degradation of organic compounds, such as tannins, that contribute to the flavor, aroma and structure of wine. These effects are irreversible and can ruin a perfectly good bottle of wine. You will often hear about climate controlled glass enclosures, but the perfect temperature and humidity means nothing if your wine is being ruined by UV light. Unfortunately, wine can’t put on sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses to avoid the harmful rays. The only way to keep your wine safe is to store them completely out of the sun.


Mold School

Wine’s taste is greatly impacted by the storage environment. Wine cellars require a relative humidity of 50-70 percent. The Phoenix area has an average relative humidity of 37 percent. This means you will need to create moisture to achieve the best cellar conditions.

Moisture leads to mold and mildew growth. The glass and stainless steel used in modern cellars tend to be more “sterile” and don’t allow for mold to grow like stone or wood. Since wine absorbs the aromas in its environment, the presence of mold impacts the flavor. Wine stored in cellars devoid of mold usually lack in complexity.

Although it is ideal to have mold growth within a cellar, it can be dangerous if it spreads into the walls of your home. Removal can be expensive, and require you to tear down your beautiful wine cellar, if it’s not dealt with right away. Therefore, it is important the humidity barrier is installed properly to prevent this issue.


Keep in mind when creating your dream cellar; the design is more than just traditional vs. modern but functionality vs. aesthetic.