Wine cellars are coming into the modern age -- and out of the dark.
The newest cellars embrace the latest home design trends, from geometric shapes to solar energy. Some aren't really cellars -- they are on the first floor.
"Homeowners are looking for their wine cellar to be a destination point," says Connecticut architect/builder Evan Goldenberg, who has clients on Long Island. "Many feel that they are spending so much money creating this beautiful space, why shouldn't it be next to an entertainment room or kitchen where it can be enjoyed?"
Here's a glimpse into some innovative and clever designs at homes on Long Island.
A CELLAR ON THE MAIN FLOOR
The homeowner wanted the wine cellar on the main floor of his Water Mill home to make an architectural statement. Southampton-based architect Peter Cook and Manhattan interior designer Robert Gaul delivered, transforming a 130-square-foot space into a sophisticated room just the right size to house the homeowner's eclectic wine collection.
"Modern technology allows these cellars to be wherever you want them to be, which is one of the reasons they are on the main floor -- so they are prominent and visible and the collections are very protected," explains Cook, who adds that for a cellar to operate efficiently a temperature of 55 degrees is needed with 60 to 80 percent relative humidity.
The wine cellar shares the space with the kitchen, living room and billiards area. It cost about $250,000 to build.
Some of the decorative highlights include cast bronze lighting, a copperleaf ceiling, limestone flooring and a ladder that hooks around a rail that runs across the wine shelving so the homeowner has easy access to the collection. Since the room is elongated and asymmetrical, Cook and Gaul incorporated a curve to give the space an interesting visual focal point when viewed from the billiards area. The same bend is reflected in the countertop, which is made from a galaxy schist stone that is stain-resistant.
Walnut wine racks hold up to 1,482 standard-size bottles and 56 magnums, with additional storage on open shelves. "It is a lot of bottles for a relatively small space, and it was a matter of getting as high a bottle count in the allotted space as possible," says Cook.
A GREEN AND ECO-FRIENDLY CELLAR
When Josie and Conrad Goerl were building their East Hampton estate, a feature high on their list was a wine cellar -- but one that would be open and inviting and would unify adjacent rooms. It would also have to hold more than 5,000 bottles.
Sag Harbor architect Nick Martin created everything on their wish list and more. One of the standout features is that the cellar, located on the lower level, runs on solar power.
"It is a green cellar," explains Martin. "The space has a zero carbon footprint."
There are floating shelves of low-iron glass (which is made from a high grade of silica sand free of iron oxides, so it has greater clarity and brightness) to house magnums and double magnums, red oak flooring that is recyclable, indirect cove fluorescent lighting and bronzed glass.
The 20-by-15-foot wine cellar is connected to a 3-D-media center, gym and hallway. "Typically, wine cellars are cavernous closets where you get your wine and you leave," says Martin. "What is unique about the cellar is that it is not really a cellar. It is a larger space that you can actually have a party in. The cellar looks like a gallery." The room includes a mini kitchen for wine tastings.
A CELLAR WITH OLD WORLD CHARM
Dr. Randall Feingold started collecting wine 10 years ago after attending a tasting dinner and auction that featured wines from President John F. Kennedy's cellar. Today, the board certified plastic surgeon's first bottle sits with 3,000 others in the wine cellar of his Oyster Bay home.
"It feels like pre-Industrial Europe," he says. "'I wanted a subterranean space that felt like it had been there for hundreds of years."
Manhattan cellar design specialist Lee Zinser developed the layout, mechanicals and materials, using ancient Jerusalem stone for the flooring, old oak beams and plaster for the ceiling, used brick for the columns and Connecticut limestone for the stairway. North Bellmore contractor Frank C. Freyvogel provided the craftsmanship.
But the design aesthetic of the room is only one part; the journey to the wine cellar is another.
One travels down a 12-foot stone-walled stairway, through a main hallway and past an iron gate before arriving at an inner octagonal chamber filled with wines from all over the world and rare antiques dating as far back as the 17th century. Feingold says he never tires of opening the gate."It has a sense of drama and mystery to it."
The project took more than a year to complete and cost more than $100,000. "Every time we bring friends into the cellar for the first time, it becomes an event," Feingold says. "Everyone pauses for a while and explores it, trying to take it all in."
A CELLAR THAT IS ONE-OF-A-KIND
Vincent and Joan Carosella have always had a wine cellar, but when they moved into their new house in Cold Spring Harbor in June, they thought they could only build a small one. "I came from a bigger cellar where I had more wine and more space. I wasn't trying to compete or duplicate that," explains Vincent. "I wanted something completely different in style and look."
The homeowners worked with Connecticut-based architect Evan Goldenberg to make the best use of the space by creating a modern geometric style to house their 2,000-bottle collection. "We gave up some bottle storage for unique design, but I do use a remote storage facility for the excess," says Vincent.
The cellar, located in a walkout basement that opens to the beach, features a 154-square-foot storage room with a glass wall that is next to the 130-square-foot tasting room. There is Mondrian-style cabinetwork made from walnut with a stain and lacquer finish, LED lighting in the shelves and a special refrigeration system that enables the homeowners to log onto the Internet and see the cellar's conditions, such as temperature and humidity, at any given time.
The cellar was completed last month at a cost of $185,000, and the homeowners say they are enjoying their new stylish space. "It's contemporary. It is avant-garde and very different from what you have ever seen," says Vincent.
* Serve your favorite wine (and cheese) on the Wine Barrel Table Top. The barrel is made of oak and features a distressed oak table top, wrought iron foot rest and door for storing bottles of wine and accessories (stools are sold separately). $899 at Joseph & Curtis Custom Wine Cellars & Humidors, josephandcurtis.com, 888-681-5888
* Protect your investment in style with the sleek design of the GE Stainless Steel Wine Chiller. The cooler holds up to 57 bottles and features an electromechanical temperature control. Shelves pull out for retrieval and bottle storage. The item, $269, is special order and available at any Lowe's location, including 700 Dibblee Dr., Garden City, 516-794-6531 or lowes.com
* Now that you've got the perfect bottle of wine, why not add a one-of-a-kind Wood Wine Bottle Holder that is equally worthy? Created by an Indonesian artist, the holder is hand carved from suar wood. $72.99 at novica.com, with purchases benefiting artisans in distant lands.
* Unlike ice cubes, which may dilute the flavor of wine, Sipping Stones promise to cool a glass without compromising taste. After each use, rinse the rocks with water, dry and put them back in the freezer for the next time. $14.95 for a set of nine stones (purchase comes with carrying bag) at sippingstones.com
* The rosewood Wine Presentation Box features all the tools -- thermometer, opener, stopper, spout and collar -- needed for serving a glass of wine. $98 at Sedoni Gallery, 304 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-547-4811; sedonigallery.com
* The wine cellar at this Brookville home, on the market for $3.495 million, is temperature-controlled with floor-to-ceiling shelving. It holds 450 bottles. Listing agent: Andrea Jablow, Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes & Estates, 516-524-7743
* There is a 500-bottle wine cellar with a granite and marble bar and terra-cotta flooring at this Huntington home, listed for $999,000. It is temperature controlled. Listing agent: Rene Zambratto, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 631-745-7340
* Holding 737 bottles, the wine cellar at this Sagaponack home, listed for $21.9 million, is made of cedar with slate flooring, and is temperature controlled. Listing agent: Alan Schnurman, Saunders & Associates, 917-991-4076