1. Control the climate. If you have the budget for it, Cravotta suggests investing in a wine room–specific HVAC system. “They keep consistent and proper balance between temperature and humidity in a way conventional systems cannot,” he says.
2. Insulate properly. If an HVAC system doesn't fit your budget, make sure the temperature is properly controlled through insulation. This has a lot to do with your geographic location, so consult a professional to assess your situation. If you’re in the southern United States, for example, Cravotta suggests treating the shell by creating a moisture barrier on the outside of every wall plus the floor and the ceiling, as well as adding closed-cell foam insulation to prevent condensation buildup and mold.
3. Make use of the space you have. You don’t need an entire room for your wine cellar. If you’re tight on basement space, consider repurposing a closet or a small storage area.
4. Choose stainless steel for a contemporary look. “Preventing airborne contaminants is definitely important,” says Cravotta. "The wine racks should be a material that won’t off-gas.” Stainless steel is a quality choice that gives wine cellars a contemporary aesthetic.
5. Pick wood with a natural finish for a traditional look. Cravotta recommends choosing a wood that requires only a mineral oil finish, such as mahogany, walnut or cypress.
6. Use zero-VOC paints. If you decide to paint the wine racks or other surfaces in the cellar, make sure they are treated with zero-VOC paints and finishes to prevent corrupting the wine.
8. Consider a tracking system. “For larger collections, you might want to consider a systematic way to mark the racks with one of the many available wine room management software programs available today,” says Cravotta. “We’re currently working a wine cellar where we are using French enameled alphanumeric tags that will be attached at every bottle location. They’re as beautiful as they are practical.”