How Do You Climate Control a Wine Cellar?

Whether you’re a collector of wines or a budding enthusiast, you will want a climate-controlled wine cellar or wine refrigerator to store your wine. 

Start with the Right System

Climate controlled wine cellars require a particular type of system. These are not to be mistaken for your home HVAC, where you have heat and air. To age or extend the life of your wine, it’s crucial to maintain the temperature and humidity level at a certain consistency. 

The default on most climate control systems is 55-58, which is recommended for the aging of red wines. Typical preference is for white wines and champagne to be served colder than red wine. Homeowners will sometimes keep champagne in their cellars but take it out and put it in the refrigerator or a small wine cooler made for white wines before serving. 

3 Types of Climate Control Systems

There are three types of climate control systems used in wine cellars:

  • Ducted
  • Through-the-Wall
  • Split Systems

Several variables will dictate the type and size of the system needed. And of course, the type of system and size will make a difference in the cost. A wine cellar specialist can help you with this decision.

Split Systems

Split systems tend to be the most expensive to install, but these also offer the most versatility. Typically an evaporator sits inside of the cellar on a wall or in the ceiling, with two line sets that run to a condenser either outside of the house or in a nearby mechanical room. However, some brands offer an option where these systems can be ducted as well. 

Only a licensed HVAC professional can install these. 

Ducted Systems

When possible, these are the preferred choice in wine cellars. Instead of having a climate control system showing inside the cellar you have a supply and return vent. The self-contained unit sits either in a mechanical room, crawl space, or basement below the cellar or attic (be careful of the heat), and duct into the cellar. Where this unit is placed does make a difference. Keep in mind that the system will exhaust heat into the space or room it is sitting in if not ducted out. 


These are the least expensive to install. They are a self-contained, plug-and-play unit. The system fits through the wall of the wine cellar and can be incorporated into the wine racking by adding a decorative grill cover. Cool airside and temperature reading on inside of cellar, with backside exhausting either into another room or outside of the house. Some manufacturers offer duct kits with these as well. 

Not mentioned in the above are water-cooled /geothermal systems. They are not as popular, but they have their place in the right application. 

There are several manufacturers of climate control systems out there. Like any product, some are better than others. They continue to develop and add additional product lines to meet the need of the current trends in wine cellars, which are the smaller closet and reach-in cellars that have become increasingly popular to place as focal points in homes. At times, depending on where the cellar is placed, it can create a challenge to figure out the best application for the installation of a system. These newer units are helping to simplify this issue. 

All climate control systems require a designated outlet/ breaker. We also always recommend to the homeowner, that if their home does not already have a surge protector, then adding one for the system would be advisable. 

Special Note

These systems will take humidity out of the air in the cellar to help maintain a certain level; however, they don’t add humidity unless you specify adding one to the system itself. This requires the plumbing of a water line. In the south, with humidity levels being high, this feature is not usually necessary. In other parts of the country where the air is dry/ humidity low, you would want to consider adding one. 

IMPORTANT! When creating a climate-controlled wine cellar, the wine cellar must be properly built-out. If the right insulation, vapor barrier, and MR sheetrock are not in place, you will be dealing with condensation, mold, and mildew issues inside your wine cellar. This will overwork the climate control system, which causes more maintenance problems and shortens the longevity of the system. Also, if the system is not properly installed or the cellar is not correctly built, it can void the manufacturer’s warranty.

If you are trying to decide on the right climate control system for your wine cellar or have been considering adding a custom wine cellar to your home or business, contact us to get started with a consultation. We can assist you with the consultation and design of the perfect custom wine cellar for your space.

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