The World’s Best Wine Cellars: For Billionaires And Maybe For You Too
What do billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, former Amway CEO Dick DeVos, and celebrity adopters Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have in common?
If you thought the wine cellar did not need reinventing, you were wrong, or at least in disagreement with Revel founder James Cash, who has a day job as COO of Michigan-based Christman Capital Development Company, a diversified construction and real estate development company he has been with for 20 years. CCDC has made a reputation as an expert on historic structures, hired to restore the Michigan State Capitol Building, the Golden Dome at Notre Dame, the Virginia State Capitol Building, President Lincoln’s cottage next to Arlington Cemetery, and is currently working at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
In short, Cash knows a thing or two about nice buildings. But it was not until he decided to add a wine cellar to his own home that he realized the existing limitations of the industry. Once again the old adage proved true: necessity really is the mother of invention.
“The idea came to me as I was planning to build a cellar in my home. Before I had the cellar, I had a typical wine ‘rack’ in my basement with individual square openings that you insert the bottle in with a ‘cork out’ orientation. Having been frustrated for years with having to pull out one bottle after another, rotate it so the label is ‘right side up’ so I could read it, and then put it back in the rack, often scraping or tearing the label in the process, I said to myself, I just want a drawer that I can pull out that will reveal four, five or six bottles that are already right side up.”
“My thought at the time was that I would just go out and buy it. But after finding that there was nothing similar on the market, I set about designing a new ‘system’ for wine, but it is really more akin to kitchen cabinetry than wine racks. The result was very satisfying. There really hasn’t been much change in the way wine is stored in cellars for a couple of hundred years. Our approach truly changes the way one appreciates his or her collection. Besides being so much more functional and intuitive, it has the added benefit of displaying wine bottles visibly, so the collector can see the bottles and read the labels at a glance, instead of looking at a matrix of unidentified bottle tops.”
“We manufacture a proprietary form of wine cellar cabinetry, based on two patented innovations: sliding drawers and rotating lazy Susans specifically designed to hold wine bottles and wooden wine cases. Everything we do is custom.”
The bottom line? Revel systems run about $25-$35 per bottle of storage space, or $25,000 to $35,000 for a 1,000 bottle cellar. That is racking only, and does not include the additional components for lighting, cooling, shipping, and basic cellar construction. This is significantly more than a traditional ‘racking’ system, for several reasons, including the fact that they are 100% custom made to order. The cellar components are entirely made in Michigan by expert furniture artisans with a long heritage of working in what Cash describes as the “furniture capital of America.” Typical designs use woods like South American Mahogany and other very high quality materials, and since they have a lot of moving parts, the cellars incorporate much more hardware.
As I said, they won’t name names, but Cash assured me that his clients include “members of Forbes ‘Richest Americans’ list, entertainers that are household names, a founder of one of the largest technology companies in the world, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists (one liked his first cellar one so much, he ordered a second one for his lake home), well known art collectors, several corporate CEOs, and one of the most prominent celebrity corporate CEOs in the world.” I’m guessing that’s Branson.