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The Ultimate Wine Cellar

The wine cellar industry has changed dramatically since Gene Walder, the owner of Vintage Cellars, first set up a small shop some 15 years ago. Walder, who had operated a wine retail shop at the famous Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax in Los Angeles, moved to northern San Diego County and has built his company into one of the most thriving in the industry, especially on the Internet.

“We’ve seen a major change in trends in just the last five years,” says Brad Crayton, the general manager of Vintage Cellars, which sells cellar equipment and also builds custom cellars. “Five years ago, wine cellars were nowhere near as popular as they are now. People thought there was only one way to go — a standard cookie-cutter-style cellar. Now, people are more focused on design and themes, such as Tuscan and old-world European.”

As a result, Crayton says, the industry is using different types of materials. While redwood and western red cedar used to be the standard for racking, much more exotic materials have come into play, such as stained walnut.

“Also, people are much more educated about wine than they were five years ago,” according to Crayton. “They want to have a lot more input on design and functionality.”

The custom cellars pictured here were all built by Vintage Cellars.

ABOVE: The staircase leads to the bottom floor of a two-story wine cellar in a La Jolla, California, home. A niche in the wall provides for more racks, these made from stained walnut. The homeowner wanted an old-world, almost cave-like feel, which is why he chose a stone floor, fauxed walls, and old-world-style fixtures.
ABOVE: The owner of this Rancho Santa Fe, California, home wanted a more traditional-style wine cellar. This cellar features natural clear all-heart redwood and a travertine floor.
ABOVE: This two-story cellar in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego, California, was built around its focal point — the homeowner’s antique hand-carved armoire. Note the use of overhead racking to create more storage space and the pretty marble-topped island, which is probably more decorative than functional.
ABOVE: This is the Solana Beach, California, home wine cellar of Jeffrey Strauss, the owner/chef of the top-rated Pamplemousse Grille near his residence. His specifications: a cellar that aesthetically was pleasing and that had plenty of display room. Note the glass cabinets for stemware, the fanned-out corner racks, and the three rows of angled bottle display.
ABOVE: An interior designer had a lot of input in the creation of this old-world Tuscan-style cellar in Newport Beach, California. The designer provided the iron and glass front doors, the hand-carved doors under the sink, and the mosaic mural.

ABOVE: Homeowner Jeffrey Strauss loves these sliding shelves in his L-shaped cellar. He selected a wine-colored marble floor with marble inlays.
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