Wine-Tasting Rooms Move Out of the Cellar

Wine-Tasting Rooms Move Out of the Cellar


(WSJ) - Homeowners with wine cellars tout features like custom storage racks and cooling systems. The cellars are perfect for wine—but less so for the people who drink it.

“Cellars are cold. They’re 55 degrees. It’s not that enjoyable,” says Marshall Tilden III, sales director at Wine Enthusiast, a Mount Kisco, N.Y.-based firm that builds wine cellars and sells related products.

Oenophiles are increasingly pairing their wine cellars with sizable tasting rooms. These spaces are designed for entertaining and outfitted with practical features, such as dishwashers for stemware and warming ovens for hors d’oeuvres. Here, guests have space to spread out and can sip and nosh in shirt sleeves if they’d like.

In June, Debbie and Stephen Holmes finished building a 3,200-square-foot house in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. It is about a five-minute drive inland from their beachfront home to protect the couple’s extensive wine collection from hurricanes, says Ms. Holmes, an interior designer. The new house, she explains, is a “play area” for her husband.

Its lower level houses Mr. Holmes’s three vintage cars and has a cellar with a 7,000-bottle capacity. Upstairs, there is a bar and lounge area, along with a screened-in porch for sipping wine while grilling, shucking oysters or smoking cigars. A gourmet kitchen is where visiting chefs or Ms. Holmes’s son, Andy McAlexander, an expert cook, make dishes to pair with wine selections. Whimsical details include coasters that say “Stephen Holmes Tasting Room,” wall sconces made of wine bottles and a table made of two wine barrels.

“Tasting was a huge part of the design of the entire structure,” says Ms. Holmes. “Tasting is the focus and what you dream of when you buy a bottle of wine.”

The home, designed with the help of a Wine Enthusiast consultant, took 16 months to build at a cost of over $900,000. The new building abuts a 4,000-square-foot guesthouse that the couple bought three years ago for about $950,000.


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