Wine Cellar Cooling Systems: How to Protect your Collection

By Kent Penning

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This is a story of a wine cellar at one of our customer's estates that is about 5 years old but had both mismatched equipment and it was oversized.  The result was premature wear and failure.  This particular wine cellar was doomed before a bottle of wine could even be cooled in it putting the wine collection at risk.

Our technician arrived and the refrigerant was low in the unit.  Pictured below is a picture of what we saw and that was when we were surprised to know that the unit was just 5 years old.  The rust that is present on the compressor indicates that the compressor was badly abused.  Anytime one finds rust on a compressor like this, it indicates that some serious system problem(s) exist.

Once we got into the diagnostics of the cooling system for this wine cellar we found that the equipment was oversized, components were mismatched and a proper refrigerant device was not installed.  This was so far gone and even if repairable the unit was still oversized and mismatched that we had to recommend a new system for the wine cellar.  Once the client saw what was occurring the client quickly agreed.  Since that day a new system was installed and the customer is happily enjoying the wine from the cellar.

Wine Cellar ugly equipment abused limit dec 2011 005-resized-600

It has taken us many years working in the design, custom creation of the cooling system equipment, installing as well as repairing wine cellars to truly understand it.  There are many times we see that the systems are mismatched or oversized, in this case, bigger is not always better.  While there are things that the wine cellar owner can do to prolong the life of their wine cellar which include regular annual maintenance from a professional, keeping the unit tuned up and probably the one most important item, never store re-corked wine in a wine cellar.  The acidity of the wine leaks out through the cork and it can destroy the mechanical equipment cooling the wine.

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We have customers, rather wine collectors, that have painstakingly taken months, years or even decades to assemble their collection.  So when we think of a customer’s wine collection we consider the money invested in it – but we also need to consider the time and love that goes into building a nice collection. True wine collectors know what we are referring to here.

It has been our experience that our wine cellar customers have the wine cellar installed for worry-free or near worry-free care for their wine collection.  Some contractors don’t really understand that importance of the system that cools the collection and preserves it as it relates to a wine collection.  Yes we agree that esthetics are important, afterall that is the wow factor to having a wine cellar, however the cooling of the cellar is the workhorse for the preservation of the wine.

The issue is this, wine cellars are much colder than an air conditioning firm can install.  There is more complicated design, installation and service skills needed for a wine cellar.  On the other hand the wine cellar is also much warmer than refrigeration contractors are trained to deal with.  Refrigeration contractors and technicians specialize in applications between -10 degrees F and +38 degrees F.  Wine cellars are a unique application and a niche that not a lot of people can properly manage. If you are in the bay area call Cold Craft located near San Jose for assistance with your wine cellar 408.374.7292.

 

If you need help with temperature, contact Cold Craft, Inc.

408.374.7292 or INFO@COLDCRAFT.COM

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