8 Simple Steps to Build a Wine Cellar from a Shipping Container

Shipping containers are a great way of building a cost effective wine cellar (or maybe a home brewery if wine isn’t your thing!). The steps are very similar to those used for building a survival bunker, though the lack of threats such as zombies or nuclear war make them even easier to construct. Rather than completely burying the container, it’s often more ideal to build your cellar into the side of a hill.

Steps to building a wine cellar from a used shipping container:

1. Check with local government to ensure that you have proper zoning or permits that are required to construct a cellar on your land.
2. Obtain a second hand reefer container – these are more suitable for a cellar due to existing insulation and three phase power for the refrigeration unit. You will likely want to replace the refrigeration unit with an air conditioner for temperature and humidity control.
3. Dig the hole in which your secondhand shipping container will be buried. Ensure that access to the door is easy and unobstructed.
4. Pour a concrete pad to place the container on and prevent moisture from rising.
5. Use roofing tar to cheaply seal the exterior of the container from moisture.
6. Use cinder blocks to build a retaining wall around the container. Shipping containers are built to take weight on the corners of the roof, but not from the sides. If you skip this step you run the risk of your container cellar collapsing under the weight of the earth and you don’t want that!
7. Install ventilation and a skylight in the top of the container.
8. Cover your container cellar in earth – make sure you leave plenty of room to access the doors.

Check out these great examples of shipping container cellars:

Pizzuli Family Winery in California, USA

Image Credit: Road Foodie
Image Credit: Road Foodie

Food and travel blog “Road Foodie” describes one such shipping container to wine cellar conversion where the owner, Cosmino Pizzuli, uses a 10 year old reefer container to house his wine collection and creations from his very own Pizzuli Family Winery.

He removed the original three phase air conditioner and replaced it with brand new one. The large size of the container allowed him to store barrels on racks, while the addition of a custom built, hand made wooden racking system built by a local carpenter provided the storage for his prized wine bottles.

A tall wooden table has been added for tasting.

Nuyuka Creek Winery, Oklahoma, USA

Image Credit: Freewine Flikr

Image Credit: Freewine Flickr

The Nuyuka Creek Winery is an Oklahoma based winery that specialises in the boutique production of fruit and berry wines from their very own elderberries, pears, apples and grapes.

Their wine cellar utilises an old refrigerated trailer from a semi (truck). While not strictly a shipping container, the same ideas apply for using a reefer container, as well as when building an underground bunker.

As reefer containers are already insulated and have built in temperature control, they are the perfect base for building a temperature controlled and insulated wine cellar – in this case, set into the side of a hill.

You can even see the elderberries blossoming on the roof, before they become one of the wine ingredients!

Abbot Miller – Pentagram

Abbot Miller is a designer from the American design firm Pentagram. His shipping container wine cellar design has been featured in the Food & Wine magazine. To call it simple would be an understatement. His cellar was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the shipping container in 2006.

Once again, he takes a refrigerated second hand shipping container and buries it into a hillside. Air conditioning is added for temperature control and a skylight is added for natural lighting. A sink and drainage are installed for cleaning all those tasting glasses, a table and chairs are added so one can relax while trying out the collection.

The most important part though – 1,000 bottles of wine, and of course music to enjoy while tasting.  And we love his philosophy:

“This cellar was born of the desire to say that wine is a simple pleasure that gets surrounded by the apparatus of high culture. When you think of a wine cellar, you think of people with McMansions and sort of a pretentious idea of culture. But it’s the cozy rather than the pretentious side of wine that I want to embrace.”

Build your very own customised wine cellar now!

Are you ready to begin construction of your very own custom built wine cellar made out of a second hand reefer shipping container? Give the expert team at Gateway Container Sales and Hire a call to discuss the perfect used shipping container, and you’ll be sipping wine in your new cellar in no time!

Ready to start your container journey?
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