When you hear the term “Wine Cellar” chances are it conjures up images of a vineyard with rustic stone walls and giant wooden racks storing countless bottles and barrels in near darkness broken up by only the flicker of an occasional light bulb. There likely are places like this in just about every wine region in the world. Yet there are also some people who have a deep passion for wine, which inspires them to maintain their own home wine cellar to hold some of their most precious and valuable bottles.

Wine is also one of those things that need the right conditions to keep it at its best. Especially, bottles of wine that have a natural wood cork. At the same time, a wine cellar or any kind of wine storage area isn’t going to take up square footage in the prime areas of your house. This is where the word cellar comes in. Most people who store a modest to a significant amount of wine in their home, find a quiet and seldom used part of their basement.

A lot of basements are prone to trapping humidity. At the same time, any water leaks in your home will tend to work their way down finally stopping to pool in your basement. This can create an ideal environment for mold spores to land, germinate, and grow.

Once mold and active mold spores start to populate your basement wine cellar, it can gradually start to damage your wine collection as well as the structural integrity of your wine cellar or other parts of your foundation. At the same time, mold loves to establish itself in porous materials like the wood in your wine racks. Depending on how your wine is wrapped, mold could even grow on an exposed natural wood cork!

Left unchecked, a mold infestation can lead to costly damage to both your collection as well as other parts of your home. Over time, the chronic presence of airborne mold spores can even start to affect your health.

What Can I Do To Prevent Mold Growth?

The persistent humidity and damp conditions of basements and wine cellars provide a nearly ideal environment for mold to establish a presence. Other factors that can also contribute to mold growth include things like the problems with a vapor barrier, lack of a vapor barrier, water leaks, mold in another area of your home and potentially insufficient insulation.

Ideally, a vapor barrier is designed to help control humidity in a wine cellar. It’s intended to separate the distinct conditions of your wine cellar or storage area from the rest of your home. If you don’t have a vapor barrier, the vapor barrier has been compromised, or it was improperly installed it can lead to condensation developing on surfaces in the room.

As time goes on, this could lead to moisture seeping through the wall cavities, allowing moisture to develop in pooling areas.

The type, quality, and installation of the insulation in your basement and around your wine cellar can also be a major factor. Ideally, you want to insulate the wine cellar with a closed cell urethane foam. It tends to cost a little bit more, but it can act as a vapor barrier while also serving as highly effective insulation. Many closed cell insulation contractors can also install it in other parts of your home at the same time for only a modest amount of additional cost.

How Important Is Insulation For Protecting My Wine Cellar?

The primary reason for insulating the walls and ceilings of your wine cellars is to keep warm air from entering the storage chamber. If it doesn’t have a tight seal, then moisture can gradually start to form in your wine room. This can eventually trigger the development of mold as well as mildew in the cavities of your walls. Without remediation, it could start to gradually warp studs as well as joists, and it might also start to damage your wine and labels.

Ideally, your insulation should have an R-19 value for the walls as well as an R-30 for the ceiling. It’s also a good idea to insulate the flooring and door to help maintain the desired moisture in your climate-controlled wine room.

In a refrigerated wine room should be set between 60 to 70%. If the ambient humidity levels to higher than 80%, it puts your wine cellar at increased risk of developing a mold infestation.

Ideally, an efficient wine room cooling system should allow you to effectively control the humidity level. There are different types of refrigeration systems to consider. The one that is right for your wine cellar will depend on a variety of factors including, size and capacity. It’s not the sort of thing you should attempt on your own. It’s best to seek out a professional contractor who can install and insulate your wine room properly.

A master builder or qualified contractor should be able to assess your storage needs, to determine the most suitable cooling and insulating solutions for your intended wine cellar space. Many climate-controlled systems are specifically designed for excellent performance, to effectively preserve your favorite vintages for many years to come.

What If I Already Have A Mold Problem In My Wine Cellar?

If you have recently found a mold colony infesting your wine cellar or a nearby part of your basement, you shouldn’t delay in dealing with it. The longer you wait the greater the spore concentration will be in the room, and the more likely you are to suffer structural problems.

With most mold infestations, it’s inadvisable to try to deal with it on your own. Especially, in cases where the mold has infiltrated a porous surface like wood. While you might be tempted to try to soak the affected area with bleach water, this will likely have little to no effect on the mold’s long-term presence in your wine cellar.

Bleach simply lacks the ability to affect the mycelial roots of the mold, allowing them to gradually regrow on the surface. Potent oxygen-based cleaners are a little more effective as they have the ability to remain ineffective concentration when applied to porous surfaces. However, they still tend to leave some living mold cells behind, which will lead to regrowth. They also can’t affect any spores that linger in the air.

It’s best to seek out a professional mold remediation service, with the tools, techniques, and training to eliminate active areas of mold, as well as extricating airborne mold spores. They can also help you understand the measures you need to put in place to prevent future mold problems affecting your precious wine investment.