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edited by Sue Courtney
e-mail address: winetaster@clear.net.nz

Featured Publication
October 2002

Cellaring Wine: do-it-yourself solutions
by Tyson Stelzer

Cellaring Wine
published in 2002 by Wine Press
ISBN 0 9580628 0 3

A book dedicated to every Australian wine consumer and to the well-being of their collections.

Ah, the Aussies. Always forgetting their nearest wine drinking neighbours. I decided to ignore the dedication printed on the first page of the book and continue reading. But once I had read the chapters on the rewards of the cellar and the six secrets of all great cellars it started getting technical. I'm not one for getting out the hammer and the toolbox so I asked my husband to also look the book over. "Could you build a wine cellar?" I asked.

Here's what he had to say.

Tyson Stelzer seems to be an accomplished DIY-er. This becomes evident on reading his book, "Cellaring Wine, Do-it-yourself solutions". It starts out with a section on why one should cellar wine. Buy a box of a good quality wine from a top vintage on release, when the price is as low as it will ever be, and put it into your cellar. When you drink the last bottle 2 years later, it will have evolved into something quite different to the brash young wine that was squirreled away in the cellar.

To get to this stage, if you live in Brisbane as does Stelzer, then a climate controlled cellar is a must to keep the temperature variations within acceptable limits. He itemizes the required conditions, in order of priority, as a stable temperature, a low temperature, adequate humidity, darkness, no vibrations, and low ventilation, although the last two are deemed to be not too important. Having a rack for a dozen bottles on top of the fridge in the kitchen is the worst possible place to cellar wines for any extended period.

To achieve a controlled environment for his wines, Stelzer's cellar started with some polystyrene boxes, progressed via a converted fridge holding 120 bottles, to a completely custom built cellar holding 500 bottles. Along the way there was a lot of tweaking and testing to get the desired conditions.

Stelzer uses a hand written book to record the contents of his cellar,. I would be tempted to use a computer to keep track of such a large number of bottles. A simple Excel spreadsheet, or a custom written database system are easy to set up, but this is not mentioned in his book. Commercial software is also available at little or no cost.

To gauge how big your cellar should be, he uses the average number of bottles consumed per year, multiplied by the average number of years of cellaring per bottle. So at 150 bottles consumed per year, and an average cellar age of 5 years, this results in the need to house a total of 750 bottles in your cellar.

So if you have outgrown the ability to store 2 dozen bottles in your linen cupboard, and have a hankering for building your own purpose built wine cellar, then this small book will give you some great pointers. If you happen to live somewhere with a climate more conducive for cellaring wine without large refrigeration units, then the costs may be much reduced.

The 58-page "Cellaring Wine, do-it-yourself solutions" can be assessed further and purchased via the Internet at the Cellaring Wine website. Check it out at www.cellaringwine.com.

The book is due for release in New Zealand shortly. Look out for it in book stores and wine shops.

© Sue Courtney, Neil Courtney, October 2002


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E-mail me: winetaster@clear.net.nz