How one Philly sommelier and wine educator got schooled while turning his basement man cave into a handsome wine room.
Peek inside one of ZipCo Wine Cellar Services’ storage solutions.
My wife had serious concerns. In hindsight, now that my wine room is completed—the racks neatly lining the walls and the tops of the bottles jutting out like some kind of grown-up version of a Lite-Brite—she had every reason to worry. I never want to leave. It’s like the ultimate man cave, but better: Instead of a kegerator, I have my beloved bottles of wine, reposing happily at a constant 55 degrees Fahrenheit, at perfect humidity, and aging at exactly the right pace. But what went into building that getaway took even me by surprise.
Thankfully I had nationally renowned wine-storage guru Scot “Zippy” Ziskind, of ZipCo Wine Cellar Services, to guide me through the process. With nearly 40 years in business, clients across the US, and an increasing involvement in the cannabis industry in the states where medical marijuana is legal (the plants thrive with precise temperature and humidity), he had the steps down to a science. My not-so-spacious nine-by-15-foot basement was no problem at all for Ziskind, who later explained to me that his South Jersey company has transformed spaces as small as a kitchen cabinet in Aspen into a fully functioning wine cellar, and, on the other end of the spectrum, created “a 31-foot-tall glass cylinder that holds 10,000 bottles of wine” at Flying Horse Country Club in Colorado Springs.
We ultimately settled on five by eight feet for the wine room, which may not sound that large, but the way Ziskind designed the racking has allowed it to hold more than 500 bottles, and includes a work desk. Even that required prior thought: Do I have more Bordeaux-style bottles (narrower and with high shoulders) or Burgundy-style ones (more sloping shoulders and a bit wider)? Do I collect standard 750ml bottles or magnums? What about Champagne? Port? Riesling? All of this would impact the racking design.
Climate control: Proper temperature and humidity are two big factors to consider when storing wine.
Ziskind regularly performs this kind of alchemy for clients with budgets that run the gamut. (His average job runs between $35,000 and $50,000.) No matter how much a client has to spend, he stresses the importance of making sure a wine-cellaring professional handles the task. “A general contractor should not be handling this project himself: That’s where big, costly mistakes are made.” The equipment, the insulation, the balance of temperature and humidity, all of these have to be done by an expert to ensure that the cellar is correctly built. After two weeks, my wine room was done: My precious bottles finally had an appropriate home in my own house. I can’t think of a better reason to make a toast. ZipCo Wine Cellar Services, 215-808-2658