A wine cellar is very much like a wine collection; it reflects the taste and style of the collector. So while some may prefer reclaimed French limestone underneath their racks of Bordeaux, others would rather have wide-plank walnut with a hand-scraped waxed finish and California Chardonnays. “It seemed like there were a lot of companies out there building wine racks, but there wasn’t a go-to company that could handle everything needed for the complete build-out of a luxury wine cellar,” says Mark Cornwell of Grand Cellars. “We work with our clients to come up with a tailored design and then bring in all the tradespeople to do the demolition, framing, mechanicals, insulation, and plaster. Our expert masons and millworkers then come in and really add character to the space. Once we have that finished structure, we can come in with the custom racks and cabinetry to create a distinct wine cellar environment unique to each client’s individual taste.”
Grand Cellars evolved out of Grand Traditions, a luxury “old-world” home building company located in Barrington. As they built houses to the specifications of their clients, they realized they were getting more and more requests for wine cellars. Each cellar had its own distinct personality, very particular to the client and their collection, and called upon Grand Traditions’ extensive list of specialty contractors and design flair for making a space feel historied.
Ron Arder from Grand Traditions knew the value of putting in a wine cellar firsthand. Even before they started building them for their clients, he had one built to store his own wine collection. Guests often single it out as their favorite room in the house. “The main reason you put in a wine cellar is to maintain your wines at the proper aging temperature and humidity,” Arder says. “I know that’s not very romantic, but that’s why you put them in a cellar. That’s where the personality comes in. It doesn’t just have to be a temperature- and humidity-controlled room. It can feel like you’re going down into an old grotto-type cellar with the heavy stone and mortar, or it can feel very contemporary, with very sleek lines and unique lighting. There are as many types of wine cellars as there are grape varietals for making wine.”
While perfectly tailoring a space to an individual, Grand Cellars also makes sure to create a space that will stand the test of time. That was one of the founding principles of Grand Traditions, and one that Cornwell learned from growing up in the building business. His father was a builder and his mother was an interior designer. “I think, for me, I was attracted to architectural styles that are timeless in design,” says Cornwell. “If we could design and build homes and cellars with the craftsmanship and design reminiscent of prominent historical architecture, they will never feel dated. So instead of going through a neighborhood and seeing a house that you can tell was built in a certain era, our goal was to build a house that was timeless in design and always remained in style. From employing old-world craftsmanship and searching for unique materials like reclaimed wood beams, tumbled building stone, and historical blended mortar, the houses have a unique sense of character and patina over time, ever-changing but always remaining in style.”
Wine collectors recognize the power that wine has to evoke a time and place. Their cellars are filled with bottles they first sampled at vineyards while traveling or that correspond with occasions they remember with distinct fondness. Uncorking that same vintage is like filling a glass with a favorite memory. It simply makes sense that for moments this valuable, you need to build a very unique kind of photo album: one that’s particular to you and your experiences, much like the collection it houses.
Or maybe, Arder’s guests have said it best upon being introduced to his wine cellar, “If it’s ever the end of the world, I know where I’m going with a corkscrew.”
For more information on Grand Cellars and Grand Traditions, visit them online at grand-cellars.com or at grandtraditionhomes.com.