The Wine of the House 1

A how-to for wine storage if you’re looking to start a collection, because, wine not?

We had the pleasure of talking to Jack TerHar of Sill-TerHar Motors about wine. TerHar has been collecting wine for about 40 years. With four separate wine cellars in his collection (in addition to owning Vail Fine Wines in downtown Vail!), we figured TerHar would be the perfect person to talk to about different wine storage options for those just starting out.

There are three main factors that need to be considered when storing wine:

  • light
  • humidity
  • temperature


Wine ages best when unexposed to sunlight as UV rays can adversely affect the composition of wines. Many wine bottles are tinted green to help protect the wine, but storing wine in a place where sunlight is not a factor helps to ensure that the wine will not be impacted by the unwanted sun.


Humidity is also essential in wine storage, mainly because the corks will eventually crack if stored in too dry of an environment. A cracked cork exposes the wine to the atmosphere, allowing the wine to oxidize and spoil.


The last and arguably the most important factor to keep in mind with wine storage is temperature. According to TerHar, wine should be stored somewhere between 48 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler the wine is kept, the longer it will take to develop and age. Not all wine is meant to be aged, so if you are just starting a collection, it’s best to find a store to buy from with educated staff who can tell you how to best store your wine.

So now that we’ve covered the basics… what next? There are many different elements to consider when crafting a cellar, but TerHar says to remember that it all boils down to one equation: The Amount of Money Spent = Showiness + Capacity.

Once you’ve figured out how much money you have to spend and have decided whether aesthetic appeal or storage capacity is most important, you can begin planning. Wine Cellar Innovations and Wine Enthusiast are two companies that sell pre-made cellars and cooling systems, but even if you are planning to do everything yourself browsing these websites is a great place to begin accumulating ideas. If aesthetics are the priority, Wine Enthusiast offers some gorgeous “furniture” cellars that are all ready to be installed.

The main advantage of building something yourself is that it can be much less expensive. TerHar says that a recent trend has been to build cellars in the dead space under staircases and that one could build an under-the-staircase cellar that holds up to 450 bottles of wine for under $4000.

With so many variables to consider, the idea of crafting a wine cellar can seem daunting. Like everything, though, the key is to start small. Collect wine within your budget, start with a small cellar, and remember that the less fancy something looks, the less expensive it will be. Enjoy!