The repetitive irony: every January first, many of us enter a brand-new year, full of endless possibilities but we stifle the chance to do something interesting with tired, old, unoriginal resolutions.
The theory: we’re busy, we’re weary and, on occasion, we’re lazy minded. We default to usual gym memberships, healthier eating habits, feng shui attacks on our closets and abstinence from fairly-innocent substances like coffee, sugar and gluten.
The solution: resolve yourself to do something that you, actually, want to do. Learn to make at least three prohibition-era cocktails. Attend more tastings. Organize your wine stash. Better yet, install that wine cellar you’ve always dreamed about. Because unless you already have your dream cellar, then you’re fantasizing about one. It’s okay – most of us are. So, take a pass on the Rosetta Stone subscription, and read on.
We talked to visionary artist, Paul LaRussa of Premier Cru Wine Cellars, renowned for building cellars for high profiled, wine gurus like Robb Report’s Bill Curtis, WineLA’s Ian Blackburn, Frasier producer and well-known wine-collector, Peter Casey, as well as Trois Mec’s Ludo Febvre, among others. According to Paul, you need to subscribe to these five crucial principles before turning your dream cellar into a reality.
Whatever you dreamt about: go bigger, go bolder and, basically, abandon everything you thought you knew about a wine cellar. “Think of your cellar as an actual, original work of fine, functional, visual art,” says Paul LaRussa. “It’s part of your home. You look at it multiple times a day. It speaks to who you are and what you love. Why would anyone settle for a cookie-cutter solution when they could really take this opportunity to communicate something about themselves, something ambitious? Go beyond functional wine racks, and seize your chance to make something expressive. Be bold, elevate your fine wine experience.”
Don’t Hire Rapid Turnaround Guys
Whomever you hire, make sure you’re not their eighth job that month. Wine cellars are personal, and they reflect “you”. The end-product should feel singular and special when completed. If your cellar designer shows up with standardized racks and doesn’t want to spend the time really understanding who you are or what you’re about, then move on and quickly. You’re going to live with your cellar for a long while, so don’t rush it. What’s a few more weeks in the grand-scheme of things?
Measure in Decades, Not Years
Choose a cellar-builder with decades of experience in the construction industry. This is an added-fixture to your home and may or may not affect its structure, living square footage, and overall value of the house. When done right, even the simplest wine cellar increases to your home value by 7%. Imagine what a stunning actual work-of-art cellar installation could do to your home’s net worth.
Hire a designer who can articulate your vision for you. They should be able to help you put your goal into words, as well as execution. The more experience they have as a wine cellar builder, the more ideas they’ll be able to show you, and the better they’ll be at truly realizing your vision. If you don’t click with your cellar designer/builder almost immediately, then consider trying someone new.
Find A Lover
Your wine-cellar builder absolutely must be a wine lover. You and they should share a mutual passion for the grape. “For some clients I’m building an artful home for their most prized possessions. The temperature is affected by everything, from the volume of bottles to the type of glass we’re using,” says Paul LaRussa. “I know the pride in being a collector myself. I understand why my clients have the wine they have.
“Technical precision in the function of a wine cellar is as important as the design and personal connection to its owner,” Paul asserts.
It’s a rare combination to find: a designer renowned for innovative, valid artistic expression with a deep history and level of experience in construction, and a passion for wine. But if you’re serious about building a cellar, seek-out a Paul LaRussa-type, don’t cut corners and remember – always to think outside the bottle.