While not always a literal cellar full of barrels, a large space to display and store bottles of wine has always been a feature that many affluent buyers like to see in homes. And now that the coronavirus lockdown has forced many people to spend long stretches of time without leaving the house, it is very often brought up as a dream home feature on Twitter.
But more than just talking about their dream homes, some affluent homeowners are not letting the pandemic stop them from ordering wine cellars to be built. Gene Walder, the president and co-owner of Vintage Cellars, said that his company is currently working on around 60 custom wine storage spaces around the country — about six of which were ordered specifically during the height of the coronavirus outbreak last month.
“[People] are not able to get out to their favorite restaurants, sporting events, charity functions, family gatherings, being with friends,” Walder told Inman. “A daily run into the wine cellar sure makes the evening better.”
In 2017, 31 percent of new-home buyers with an annual household income of $150,000 said that a wine cellar was their most desired amenity while 60 percent of households earning less than $75,000 said that they had no interest in a wine cellar at all, according to a report from National Association of Home Builders.
Al Fuentes, president of Dragon Cellars in Miami and Madrid, is currently working on about 60 projects — including a whiskey and wine room ordered by a Venezuelan client living in Aventura, Florida. The space will have four glass walls and wood from Spain to display over 500 whiskey bottles and 400 wine bottles. A wine room built by Dragon Cellars starts at around $50,000 and can go up to $200,000 and more.
“It gives them a beautiful enjoyment area in their home that makes you want to stay in and enjoy wine,” Fuentes said, adding that some of their projects have been put on hold because condo buildings have put a ban on any construction. That said, many clients who live both in Miami condos and private luxury homes are still calling in to start planning the design of a custom wine cellar that they will be able to build once the lockdowns ease up.
“Southwest Florida has a lot of people with a lot of money,” Fuentes said. “They have big and beautiful homes as well as the space for it and the money for it.”
Some of the projects Dragon Cellars built in 2019 include a wine wall for a home on Miami’s Fisher Island that cost around $125,000 and a walk-in wine room that hides behind a metal staircase and cost around $65,000. Some are made as separate rooms to store wines at the right temperature but, more often, Fuentes gets requests to build a modern space that display a large wine collection using glass, pull-out racks and special LED lights.
“[A wine cellar] just adds an extra level of luxury to the home,” Dallas-based Rogers Healy Realtor Ben Wegmann told Inman, adding that he has clients specifically request to see homes with wine cellars in the past. “A lot of people are also drinking more during this time so it’s a good feature to have.”
But if you’re short of Fisher Island kind of money, some people are turning to their own devices to still have a wine cellar — in Australia, builder Murray Berrill installed drawers into the steps of his staircase to use for wine storage while in coronavirus-related lockdown.
A Victorian builder decided to install a wine cellar into his staircase https://t.co/27pBDsEZE4
— 10 daily (@10Daily) April 15, 2020
Along with being a major perk for the current residents, a wine cellar could catch a buyer’s eye when the house is ready to sell. At Thursday’s Inman Town Hall, Hilton & Hyland Executive Vice President Gary Gold predicted that, once the lockdowns end, many buyers will be looking for more.
“People are going to rethink what they want,” Gold said. “I bet you houses with more amenities and all kinds of bells and whistles are going to do really well.”