Keeping bottles of fine vino, whether for investment or pleasure, is finicky business. It demands stringency and stability in an environment to thereby breed vivacity and excitement – over a month, a year, or a decade. Such storage isn’t for its own sake, after all. One must be able to inspect (or remove) bottles with ease to entertain and educate the curious – so it’s not just a matter of filling a dank basement and throwing away the key.
You could do much better – take a leaf from the pages of Texan architecture firm Clayton Korte. They’ve recently unveiled a private wine cellar – with space for some 4,000 odd bottles – that’s dug from solid limestone in Texan hill country.
Being hewn from natural limestone has its benefits. The cave acts as a natural cellar for the alcohol, with metres of solid stone and concrete acting as buffer against the passing of the seasons, whilst moderating the temperature within (around 12 to 15 degrees Celsius, with supplemental cooling).
Extracting said limestone (boulders from which now decorate the entrance to the wine cellar) proved to be quite the feat, since builders had to essentially tunnel into the side of a hill. The result is worth it though – plenty of elbow room to house, as we said, a luxurious collection of 4,000 bottles, as well as accompanying tasting room, bar space and toilet.
Apart from electric lighting, a floor-to-ceiling, insulated window lets in plenty of natural light, working in tandem with the wooded vertical grain Douglas fir ceiling and walls to make the space welcoming (and a little less like you’re supping in the mines of Moria). Reclaimed cedar, recovered and milled, were turned into countertop surfaces and the floating restroom vanity.
The use of wood isn’t just for aesthetic purposes. It keeps the components of the room “deliberately kept away from the existing cave walls so that the room remains adaptable,” says lead architect for the project Brian Korte.
Leftover boulders from the excavation, along with lush vegetation, now decorate the entrance to the wine cellar that’s also been capped with a board-formed concrete portal. It’s been designed to weather with time as a way of working harmoniously with the hillside around the cellar.
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The wine bunker belongs to a nearby ranch owner, and serves as an excellent (if luxurious) way to store one’s private wine collection. It isn’t Clayton Korte’s first rodeo in the world of wine-related architecture though: they’ve also designed a wine library that houses 20,000 bottles in Californian wine country, as well as an expansion to the Fulldraw Vineyard campus for guests’ tasting pleasure.
For more of Clayton Korte’s architecture.
Images by Casey Dunn.