This was a fun one. I worked with Artistic Wine Cellars, and the collectors to get this hidden and fairly inaccessible space below the stairs, transformed into an incredible and fully organized wine cellar. Prior to my arrival, the collectors had moved all of the wine into four separate places in the home, organized by varietal. This was great, because it allowed me to see which wines the collectors had the most of, and how much space I should allocate to each section, before moving them into the new cellar. The clients belonged to several wine clubs, which made for several esoteric bottling's that needed to be accounted for, and placed in specific columns that would accommodate the unique sizes and shapes of the bottles, as well as room to grow with each shipment.
Once the inventory was done, I was able to create a map and a plan for where to place each bottle, combining my data and the wine cellar blueprints, and projecting where to leave room for expansion. The finished inventory included the specific columns where each bottle was placed, as well as a visual map for easy reference.
Things to take into consideration when building a wine cellar:
Get creative with your space: Artistic is incredible in their ability to transform unique spaces into world class wine cellars.
Account for odd shaped bottles: This collection had a number of Turley's (which have a very wide base), and unique square bottles of rose. In placing the bottles, I found that within the same vintage, the thickness of these bottles varied just enough that they would not easily and securely stay put in the rack. It was less of an issue because the rose would most likely be drunk that season, and could be placed in a refrigerator that would more safely accommodate the odd size and shape. This is why custom built wine cellars are so important. You are able to tell your contractors exactly what size bins you will need based on your collection style. And, if you do not have an in-home wine cellar, Le Cache is the most accommodating wine refrigerator on the market, that will not scrape the labels, and can fit even the most unique shapes and sizes.
Save meaningful OWCs: The collectors were able to have Artistic take a panel from one of the original wooden containers, and turn it into the face of the hidden drawer, as a permanent and artful reminder of their trip.
Take control of your wine clubs: Make sure you are understanding and consuming the bottles being sent to you. Often times they are one off's that are hard to assign values to because of the limited offerings that are geared only to wine club members. If your tastes have changed, don't be afraid to reach out to the winery and ask for adjustments to your membership. It could lead to something much more customized to your interests.
Maintain your collection: Once a full inventory has been done, stay up to date with what is going out, and what is coming in. Make sure to unpack and place your new purchases, and log the location into your spreadsheet. Also, don't forget to have the collection insured!
Have a designated tablet for your inventory: Tablets are so cheap now, that you can easily set up a spreadsheet, or use an online database like CellarTracker, to keep track of your collection. Many of these tablets even have a camera installed so that you can take pictures of the bottles, tasting notes, invoices, etc. that you can keep for reference.
And last but not least, take the time and make it a priority to get your collection insured.