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The latest must-have for luxury homes: wine rooms

Updated December 26, 2023 - 3:45 pm

Traditionally a symbol of discernment and taste, wine collections are moving from a hidden, lower-level wine cellar to a prominent role within the luxury residence. The sleek, contemporary displays serve as a visual amenity from the moment of entry. Not simply storage spaces, these “cellars” display impressive collections as art.

“In recent years, wine rooms have become a must-have feature in most luxury homes,” said Michael Zelina, Global Luxury real estate advisor with Las Vegas Sotheby’s International Realty. “These rooms are not just a place to store wine; they are an extension of the homeowner’s lifestyle, personality and identity.”

Wine rooms are increasingly popular in the luxury marketplace, even becoming an expected amenity. Zelina estimates that 50 percent of his clients want a wine room when shopping for a property.

According to Blue Heron Design Principal Kathy May, 75 percent to 80 percent of Blue Heron Nexus clients ask to incorporate wine room experiences. That number increased to 80 percent to 90 percent when talking about the firm’s elite custom division clients. She estimates the cost to build a residential wine room starts at around $20,000 and goes up over $180,000.

“From an investment perspective, a custom wine cellar offers considerable value to a property,” May said. “In a competitive real estate market, properties boasting well-designed custom wine rooms undoubtedly stand out, potentially providing a competitive edge to sellers and yielding higher returns.”

Within the luxury market, the custom wine room primarily relies on contemporary design elements, utilizing floor-to-ceiling glass-enclosed spaces with finishes mirroring those within the home. The clean, minimalist aesthetic provides a sense of sophistication and serves as a visual centerpiece.

“A well-designed and well-executed wine room can be a significant selling point for a home,” Zelina said. “It can be an attractive feature for buyers who are wine enthusiasts, collectors or entertainers, as they offer a space to store, display and enjoy their wine collections.

“On the other hand,” he continued. “A poorly designed or executed wine room can have a negative impact on the resale value of a home.”

Contemporary designs can adapt to any space, from an oversized glass-encased wine room displayed in the main living area to a discreet wine room under the stairs. Integrated LED lighting systems highlight individual bottles, enhancing the room’s ambiance.

Wall displays are another popular option, which provides ample storage and an interesting visual in the room. A property in Seven Hills showcases an entire glass wall dedicated to a 120-bottle collection. The space uses temperature and humidity control through a smart panel on the wall tied into the home’s Crestron system. It features LED lighting and a distinct display system.

“It has a minimalist style with clean lines and a simple color palette,” Zelina said. “It draws attention to the wine bottles and the design, making it the space’s focal point.”

Under the stairs is another favored option, allowing designers to take advantage of unused space as they create an interesting visual. Michael Gardner, principal, and founder of studio g Architecture and Luxus Design Build, took this concept one step further. He developed a wine room that utilizes a stairwell wall in a property in Ascaya. The unique two-story display leads to a lower-level bar. Halfway down the wall, the wine display transitions into a tequila and whiskey storage. On the lower level, a full bar awaits with televisions and a cigar-smoking lounge.

“I don’t like to waste square footage unless there is a specific reason. We’re using the wine room as a transition from two different spaces and uniquely energizing the stairs,” Gardner said. “It’s less about being a wine room and more being a visual architectural statement.”

In the 2023 New American Home, Gardner integrated the wine storage into the hallway to provide two separate wine rooms: one for reds and another for whites. He designed the 6-foot-by-2-foot rooms in a hallway outside the great room, one on each side of the doorway. His design also included four wine columns in the formal dining area and wine refrigerators throughout the home.

Wine display options are vast and can fit the home’s design vision and style. Unique racking systems and minimalist shelving inside the wine room add to the overall design and complement the property’s interior.

In Blue Heron’s VM001, the distinct wine room’s racking features a subtle nod to the Vegas Modern design symbol by incorporating a custom V shape. The elegant room is an integral, sculptural piece of art, enhancing the formal dining space.

“Wine rooms we create are designed to intentionally complement, flow with and be part of the story of the homes,” May said. “Therefore, a Blue Heron wine room will always lean modern.”

Another popular trend is a separate lounge or wine-tasting space inside the wine room. A property in MacDonald Highlands, known as Moon Crest Estate, showcases a lower-level wine room with a tasting room accessed by a hidden hallway behind the bar. The distinct area offers comfortable, modern-designed furnishings and all the essentials for intimate social gatherings. Custom-built polished wood racks line the walls, displaying the 480 bottles illuminated with LED lighting, creating a stunning visual.

“The room was designed with a party atmosphere in mind,” Zelina said. “It was unlike anything I had ever seen and might be my favorite.”

Aesthetics aside, today’s wine rooms use technology to preserve the quality and integrity of the wine. Some options include integrating temperature control and smart technologies, such as temperature monitoring or inventory management systems.

“Smart home technology also extends to wine rooms,” May said. “From accessibility, label recognition software to help track inventory and organization to state-of-the-art smart home technology apps to control and monitor temperatures and humidity.

“Many even offer inventory monitoring to tell what bottle has been accessed by whom and when,” she continued. “To where the bottle is in the wine room and what the collection is worth.”

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