A CEDAR-LINED wine cellar offered the DiSclafanis function and style.

COLLECTIONS OFTEN HAVE SPECIAL STORAGE NEEDS, but none rival the attention that storing fine wines requires. Heat and inappropriate storage methods can destroy a bottle of wine faster than you can say Chateauneuf-du-Pape. And if collecting wines moves from a part-time hobby to a full-time passion, you certainly will need more than a decorative wine rack.

Serious wine collectors Dr. Tony and Donna DiSclafani devoted a third of their former residence’s garage to a state-of-the-art wine cellar. The separate entrance reminds you of a French chateau with its oversized cedar door and copper awning overhanging a circular courtyard.

Once inside the 12-by-22-foot room with its requisite 55-degree temperature and 70 percent humidity, it is easy to think you’re inside a French countryside wine cellar.

“This wine cellar is over-engineered because we had to deal with the outdoor elements, especially the heat,” says Tony. “Because it was built into part of the garage, it had to be a specialized project with lots of insulation.”

The cedar-lined wine cellar is an elegant-yet-functional room where the couple stores 2,300 bottles of everyday as well as collectible wines. But don’t get the idea that the DiSclafanis are wine snobs.

ORGANIZE WINES BY REGIONS for easy accessibility.

“Wine snobbery is the worst kind of snobbery,” chuckles Tony. “Wine is worth only what you are willing to pay for it.”

Although Tony and Donna own several wines that have appreciated by hundreds of dollars since they began collecting seven years ago, their favorite wines to drink are in the mid-priced range from $12 to $25.

“People have a misconception that wine costs a lot,” he says. “This is the best time to be a wine connoisseur and a consumer. The science of grape-growing has evolved, and many great wines are available at very reasonable prices.”

Tony and Donna were introduced to wines about 10 years ago by Tony’s medical partner, Barry Kaplan. They built the wine cellar just outside their back door four years ago. Donna had a photo that she shared with contractor Jamie Schatt and master carpenter Barry Wilcox to create the French chateau look for the unique space. APEX Wine Cellars of Tampa designed and installed the custom-cooling components needed to keep the wines stored at optimal temperatures.

Tony keeps an inventory of the wines through a program called VinFolio. The wines also are organized by regions with the oldest vintages on the lower racks and youngest vintages near the top of the 10-foot ceiling. The racks hold 12 bottles, which Tony says is the most efficient way to store wine. In addition, he has a display rack that showcases some of his most rare wines, the ones that are usually kept for investments or very special occasions. The oldest bottle in his collection is an 1862 Madeira, a fortified wine from Portugal known for its similarity to sherry.

The couple has built a new home where a slightly larger wine cellar will be added next to their kitchen.

“Wine should be part of the food experience,” explains Tony, whose favorite wines are from France. “We’ll be able to just walk inside the cellar and grab a bottle for dinner.”

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