How do you organize your wine cellar?
I currently have about 100 bottles of wine in my cellar, and I am looking for some suggestions on how to organize it. Should it be by region? varietal? when to drink? winery?
I'm toying with the idea of keeping the most reachable area for "drink now" wines, then organize the rest by varietal then winery.
For context, I have wine from various regions in California and Washington from about 14 different wineries. And I have zin, cab, petite sirah, syrah, pinot noir, and chardonnay.
Any suggestions on how you organize yours is appreciated! Thanks!
When I started with about 60 bottles it was pretty easy because everything fit in an IKEA rack and those plastic neck tags ID'd everything pretty quickly. After I hit hundreds of bottles things got pretty bad even with CellarTracker because everything was in case boxes, which of course get moved around when you're hunting for something.
I did have the chance to build a cellar and re-inventoried everything with CellarTracker when the bottles went in. The initial distribution was loosely by country then region/appellation, with "summer sippers" and immediate consumption stuff in the rack closest to the door. Keeping that system isn't practical if one continues to add wines (except for the immediate consumption stuff), but labeling the racks and using CellarTracker means that having things all over is less of an issue.
The CellarVu front end for CellarTracker is a very nice way to browse what's there but it's iPad only.
If you could call what I do any type of organization, I would say my cellar is organized by producer and within that when to drink. It works for me because the majority of my bottles are stored horizontally with the capsule facing out so if I need to find a specific bottle I can usually tell from the capsules as to where to begin looking.
As mentioned above, do yourself a HUGE favor before you get too many bottles (>50, heck why not >25, it's essentially free unless you want to make a donation which I do every year), start using CellarTracker:
https://www.cellartracker.com (new version)
https://www.cellartracker.com/classic... (old version I still use, but your wines appear in both versions)
Unless you have a lot of space in your cellar (unlikely to last, since wines seem to reproduce like rabbits!), there is no point in trying to organize it. Just plop your bottles into any open space and record the location in cellar tracker (I have 3 Eurocaves, which I call "A", "B", and "C", and in each one I number the shelf from #1-8 (combination of bulk and roller shelves).
CT has virtually every bottle of wine you are ever likely to own already entered in the database and the search algorithm is so good that entering a new purchase takes like 15 seconds, so there's no reason not to keep it updated.
If you want to look for bottles that are ready to drink, CT allows you to do that search. If you want to see all the Zins you have, just do a search. If you want to just look for ideas for dinner, pull up the alphabetical list and scroll down to see what you have (I forgot I had that!). No organization required.
Also the Cork.z app allows you to see what you have in CT on your smartphone while in the wineshop (which prevents me from buying more of something I already have, a common problem!). Apparently CT is also working on their own app, but Cork.z works well in the meantime.
I first started using it when I moved between states and the movers needed a list of what I had for insurance purposes (and I never kept my Excel up to date because it was so tedious to type everything in). It took a day to unload all the cellars and enter everything into CT, but now that I have, it is so much easier to keep things up to date. Very little typing is required in CT because as soon as you start typing the software suggests wines that match and you just click on the right one.
CT revolutionized my life!
@PhillyBestBYOB on Twitter
I have a lot of experience with this - restaurant inventory, restaurant wine lists . . .
Now I have a cave-à-vin that holds about 180-200 bottles on six shelves A-B-C-D-E-F plus a small cellar and cool garage storage during the winter. I keep an inventory list on the front of this appliance and mark off the bottles as I used them. For example,
C Pouilly-Fuissé 2009 Verget Terres de Pierres Chardonnay 1 2 3 X
Bottles needing to be drunk soon are listed in italics.
I have a second list for vins de garde and on this list the maturation date is noted beside each wine.
F Pernand-Vergelesses 2004 Ile de Vergelesses 1er Cru Rapet 2009 (yum!)
For all I recommend arrangement by varietal. After all you do want to consider the red Burgundy alongside the Oregon Pinot Noir.
>>> After all you do want to consider the red Burgundy alongside the Oregon Pinot Noir. <<<
Hmmm . . . .
I don't. There are times when I want a Burgundy, and other times when I want a domestic Pinot Noir -- to me, they're quite different. But YMMV.
As for the rest, while it may seem to me that you have too much time on your hands -- ;^) -- it's clearly a workable system.
Jason, you have a more refined palate. I make it a point to choose the right grape and the right intensity.
Too much time? No, not much at all. I have spent too much time scouring the fall supermarket offerings to find some good wines from elsewhere in this country, but I am going to do much less of that. Instead this year I will begin ordering direct from better vintners in Alsace, in the Loire, in Jurançon and eventually in Burgundy when my stock runs down a bit more. I always make one afternoon pass through the vineyards here every autumn. Pretty drive.
I am sort of with Jason.
Once, I organized by geography, then by varietal, but that was when I was filling a 3700 btl. cellar. That lasted for about a year. Suddenly, I was out of space here, and there. I began moving stuff around, but that only lasted for about a month. Next thing I knew, I was stacking case, upon case, on the floor and up to the 9' ceiling. Now, I have things stuck everywhere, and even an overflow in my office. I am buying more than drinking, which is a very bad thing, and that cellar is stuffed with over 9K btls.
To grab a magunm of Benovia PN tonight, I had to dig.
re: Bill Hunt
Well, I don't have 9,000 bottles -- probably somewhere around 75-100 cases . . . I honestly don't know. That's the disadvantage of having my wines stored in three different locations, although that's (in part) due to moving from San Francisco to Berkeley in 2002, along with a holdover from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which forced me to find new location(s) for my cellar when the building that was then housing my "stash" collapsed . . . .
Theoretically, when I buy new wine and bring it home, it moves from my home into the "long-term" cellar (if appropriate), which is elsewhere.
Theoretically, the wines I have in our cellar are wines to be consumed in the next year or so, but there are always wines that need to get moved to the long-term cellar there (but I haven't gotten around to it yet).
I have a small wine "refrigerator" in our house that holds 36 bottles; there are approximately 20 cases in our cellar. The rest are stored in two separate facilities . . . one of these days I need to consolidate that.
The problem (for me) with all this organizing is the number of times I have to move cases. If I have, say, wooden cases stacked five high, and I have a new case of wine to store -- do I really need to pull out those five cases, put the newest one at the bottom, and re-stack the five on top of the sixth??? It's a royal PITA! (Then again, because my wines were in wood, instead of wine racks, I only lost two bottles out of 75 cases in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, epicentered < six miles from my cellar.) So the organization scheme goes slightly off-kilter.
Basically, I have different stacks for different wines . . . first separated by color, but then by area/type: i.e.: Burgundies here, Bordeaux there; Northern Rhône there; Southern Rhône next to it; Douro here, Rioja there, followed by Priorat/Montsant; and so on. California varietals are stacked in the "California" section by variety.
But is everything organized? Neat? Even written down somewhere? God, no . . .
re: maria lorraine
I didn't get that specific in my post above, but I do have a separate section for Red Blends and White Blends. If a blend seems dominated by a varietal, then I usually put it with the varietal, e.g., Insignia, from Phelps, an inky proprietary "Red Table Wine." I put that with the Cab, since it's most like Cab and ages like Cab.
Rhones and Burgundy have a separate category. White Bordeaux go into the White blends. So, there's a logic but perhaps it's not all that obvious. Works for me, though.
No real organization, really. I try to put them together by region but its don't really think about it too much. I use CellarTracker (highly recommend it, by the way) and just put up the wine where I have open spots.
Cellars have limited space and I found over time that my tastes and preferences changed. At one point probably half of what I owned was Cali Cabs. Now that is hardly the case. The size of different regions for me, over time, shrinks and swells.
You can use cellartracker.com and/or use a spreadsheet. You can label - locations/bins/shelves.
I sort by region then producer as I tend to identify what I want through cellartracker or a spreadsheet, and then I just need to go into storage and find it. I'm not a let me look at all my reds and then see what I feel like drinking type person.
Red on one side, white on the other. Stuff I buy by the case gets one row per case (my Vinotemp 600's rows are 7 wide / 2 deep) in no particular order. Grouped together:
- stuff to age
- stuff to try soon to decide whether to get a case
- misc. reds for current drinking
- misc. whites for current drinking
- misc. Alsatian / German whites for current drinking
- misc. rosés for current drinking
- stuff I don't like that my friends might