This Month in Your Cellar: Repurpose Wine Crates for an Environmentally-Friendly Project

repurpose wine crates

You can repurpose wine crates that arrive from allocations to save on cellar space and make your cellar more functional. Photo Credit: Wikimedia CC user Chris Feser

So now that fall is over, many serious collectors are dealing with fall allocations: stacks of wine cases filled with dozens of new bottles. We’ve already talked about how to deal with those bottles, but what can you do with the packaging they were shipped in? While they’re beautiful to look at and difficult to throw away, empty wine crates take up valuable space in your home. I know that I’d have trouble breaking down a wooden Latour case and tossing it in the garbage with the rest of that week’s trash. These crates are practically collector’s items themselves. By repurposing wine crates you get to keep these beautiful cases while producing less landfill. And that’s not all you can reuse.

Reusing Insulation

repurpose wine crates

Photo Credit: Flickr CC user Ian Brown

If you’re getting an overnight wine shipment, you’ll likely receive a cardboard box containing Styrofoam that’s molded around each bottle individually. Styrofoam separates your wine bottles to keep them safe during air shipments or bumpy van rides, however, this material has a negative impact on the environment. Researchers have found that plastics, including Styrofoam, make up between 25 and 30 percent of all landfills. The material doesn’t decompose quickly, and it frequently makes its way into forests and other natural habitats.

DIY Instructions

Rather than throwing this material away, you can reuse it to improve your wine cellar. You have two options: reuse the whole plastic shipper, or cut it up into sections. Some shippers come in one large block of foam that doesn’t separate easily. In this case, you can store the entire block and reuse it whenever you need to take more than one bottle of wine on a trip with you or to ship wine to a warehouse. The only downside is that the foam will take up space while it’s in storage. A more versatile solution is to cut the foam into each individual bottle section, if possible. Once you have all 12 molds separated, you can place your bottles inside for DIY earthquake and vibration protection in your cellar. This works best in conjunction with flexible metal wine racks that are capable of fitting to the size of the Styrofoam.

Create Storage Space for Accessories

repurpose wine crates

Photo Credit: Vinfolio

If you’re not getting your wine overnighted, you might receive traditional wooden crates instead. These crates are more aesthetically appealing than cardboard and foam shippers, yet they still take up a lot of unnecessary space. The best way to repurpose wine crates is to make them a functional part of your cellar. You can either mount them on walls to create shelves or make a rolling basket to save on space.

DIY Instructions

Repurpose wine crates into mounted wall shelves that hold essential wine accessories like corkscrews, aerators, bottle stoppers, and even books about wine. Since the crates are made out of wood, they’re capable of holding heavy items. To start, remove any sharp, protruding staples from your crates, then sand down the edges until they are smooth to the touch. Either mount the crate as-is, or stain the wood slightly, ensuring that the winery logo is still visible. Next, secure iron wall-mount brackets to one side of the crate (decide whether you want to mount the crate horizontally or vertically). Buy brackets that measure about two-thirds of the crate’s depth for stability. Attach the brackets and crate to your wall, then add wine accessories to your new shelf.  

In a cellar, wall space is precious. Every inch of wall you use is one less inch of space for bottles. If you’re tight on wall space, make a rolling wine crate cart instead. Start by sanding down the rough edges of your crates, then attach metal casters sand wheels to the bottom four corners of the crate. The casters can be low if you want to roll your wine crate under an existing piece of furniture in your cellar, like an island, or you can attach wheels with longer legs for a bar cart-like piece of furniture. If you don’t need to roll your wine crate, consider attaching hairpin legs to the crate to create a taller bin or table.

Decorate Your Walls

repurpose wine crates

Photo Credit: Wikipedia CC user Jamain

You can repurpose wine crates into storage units, but at a certain point, you’re going to run out of items that you need to store (or space to put the storage furniture). If you still have leftover wine crates, consider using them to decorate your cellar. Since corks absorb aromas from the air, most wine cellars have to be painted with wine-safe paint, and you have to avoid strong-smelling wooden floors or furniture. The benefit of having at least one wall made out of wine crates is that the crates are already safe for your bottles. You can use crates to decorate your cellar without worrying whether the scents of the wood will penetrate your wine.

DIY Instructions

For solid walls that already have firm backing, you can simply remove the front panel from the wine crate (the side featuring the logo), and install it against the wall using a drill and nails. For more stability, consider hiring a carpenter to mount frames against the wall first, then install the thin crate panels against those newly-constructed frames. I recommend hiring a cellar contractor before you construct your crate mural, since contractors will know how to seal your new wall properly and ensure that you’re not affecting your cellar’s ability to maintain its temperature and humidity settings. The goal is to have a wall mural that shows off your proudest bottle purchases while keeping your bottles safe and sound.

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 best wine.

Ryan has worked in every restaurant capacity from bartender to management, and in wine distribution as a consultant and advisor to Chicago’s most elite restaurants and retailers. As a new member of Vinfolio's Executive Fine Wine Specialists, he is thrilled to share his expertise and passion for wine. Outside of the office, he can be found learning to cultivate vines in the garden, with a glass of White Burgundy in hand, or hiking with his wife and dogs.