Home Wine Storage Vs. Warehouse Storage: The True Cost of Owning a Cellar

Vinfolio home wine storage vs warehouse storage

Home wine storage might seem convenient, but it can cost you thousands of dollars more than storing with a professional warehouse. Photo Credit: Flickr CC user Donald Judge

When a wine collector named Nicholas decided to build his own home wine storage space, he thought he was doing everything right: he built the perfect shelves, he hooked his cellar up to a cooling unit, and he invested in a fancy humidifier with a sensor. He imagined that with all of this expensive equipment handling his cellar’s needs, all he had to do was sit back and enjoy his wine. Within a few years, however, Nicholas’ self-maintained cellar was on the fritz; his cooling unit wasn’t keeping the cellar at a steady temperature (it fluctuated between 53 and a whopping 72 degrees), and his humidifier had built up a thick layer of gunk. He learned a tough lesson that year: sometimes, even the finest equipment in the world isn’t enough to keep your bottles safe. This is why it’s important for you to compare the true cost of home wine storage to warehouse storage fees. You might be surprised to learn that it’s cheaper and safer to store in a professional warehouse.

Home Wine Storage Costs

Generally, you need to account for six expenses when you build a home wine storage space. Prices for each of these expenses vary depending on how elaborate you want your cellar to be, but if you want to stick with the bare minimum on each, here’s what you can expect to pay:

Insulation

Part of what Nicholas learned with his cellar cooling fiasco was that insulation is more important than any cooling unit. As long as your cellar’s temperatures stay about the same year-round, it’s okay if they creep into the mid-60s — fluctuation in temperature is the enemy of wine. To keep a steady temperature, you need to install vapor wrap, insulated flooring, insulated walls (with wine-safe paint), insulated trim, an exterior-grade door, and weather seals to keep the humidity out. Expect to pay at least $3,000 for these materials.

Wine Racks

Next, you need to account for the cost of wine racks, which typically go for about $1.50 per bottle when you install molded metal shelves that keep your bottles safe from vibration. Collectors who have 1,000 bottles can expect to pay as much as $1,500 on wine racks alone.

Labor

Hiring an experienced cellar contractor is the safest option when it comes to building your cellar, but the contractor’s labor fees are going to cost you. Depending on the agreement you sign with the contractor, you’ll pay an average of $500 extra per square foot in labor and equipment costs. Even if you only have 30 square feet to work with, you can pay as much as $15,000 to hire a cellar construction company.

Cooling

The cooling unit is one of the least expensive aspects of building your own home wine storage space, since you can get an effective unit for as little as $1,000. Before you invest in a unit, make sure it has a sensor that detects the temperature in the room, and that it can keep the space at an even 55 degrees.

Humidity

A humidifier will cost you about $1,000 or more. As with the cooling unit, you’ll want to buy a humidifier that has an accurate sensor, and that automatically turns on or shuts off when the room’s humidity dips or spikes.

Electricity/Maintenance

Once you’ve built your cellar, you’re not off the hook when it comes to costs. You’ll need to spend an estimated $70 more on your electricity bill per month if you cool 250 square feet of space for 24 hours per day. This estimate will be less if your cellar is smaller than 250 square feet. You’ll also occasionally need to hire a professional to fix your cooling unit or humidifier if either one breaks down.  

All told, the cost of materials and labor will add up to at least $25,000 to $30,000 for a 1,000 bottle capacity cellar. When you remember that you will also pay anywhere from $25 to $70 more per month in electricity, you’ll need to add an additional $300 to $840 per year to your cellar budget.

Warehouse Storage Costs

Compared to home wine storage costs, warehouse storage fees work out to be much lower, especially for collectors who own more than 1,000 bottles, or those who own fewer than 100 bottles. That’s because collectors who own more than 1,000 bottles need at least 50 square feet of space to store them properly, which means they will spend far more on cellar construction than a collector who needs half the amount of space. However, if you have fewer than 100 bottles, your construction costs might be low, but the added cost of maintaining your small cellar will usually be higher than the cost of storing those bottles in a professional warehouse, especially when you include maintenance and repair costs.

Storing your wine with Vinfolio gives you access to a number of extra services, including white glove shipping, bottle inspection, wine label barcodes, access to the VinCellar app, insulated storage, a temperature and humidity-controlled space, earthquake-proof racking, security cameras, and up-to-date market data on each bottle. All of these services cost less than 1.5 percent of the total value of your collection, meaning that if your collection is worth $50,000, you’ll spend less than $750 on storage. That’s about $100 less than just the cost of cooling for your home cellar, and you won’t have to spend an extra $30,000 on construction. Professional storage allows you to buy as much wine as you want without worrying about where you’ll put your newest bottles, all at a fraction of the cost of a home cellar.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

With over a decade of experience in the wine industry, Derek Cienfuegos serves as Director of Collector Services at Vinfolio. During his tenure at Vinfolio, he has had the good fortune to work with some of the most distinguished wine collections in the country. Trained in wine production, Derek spent many years making wines commercially for some of Sonoma’s top producers. In addition, he has designed, opened, and managed two wine bars in San Francisco.