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Performing Art
Joel and Diane Schleicher's wine cellar
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 6 years ago

Uncorking Sarasota's Wine Cellars

by: Heather Merriman Saba Black Tie Editor

When it comes to wine, some connoisseurs bring their passion into their homes — by means of wine cellars. The Observer sought out some cellars around Sarasota to see what it takes to build one, the importance of design and how one goes about filling a wine cellar.

First things first, Michael’s Wine Cellar’s Michael Klauber says if you are going to have a wine cellar in your home, there needs to be two sections: wines to lay down to age and wines you will drink immediately.
“You need to have a ‘drink me’ section,” he says.

Artistic vision 

The idea for Joel and Diane Schleicher’s wine cellar was for it to be an artistic focal point of the home.
“The bottles are beautiful, and the labels are gorgeous. We wanted them to be displayed,” says Diane.
Standing in the kitchen and looking into the left side of the cellar, Diane points to the racks.

“As you can see, the labels are sideways to see as you are walking by on either side of the cellar,” she says.
A lot of time went into designing the racks, for the utilization of space as well as the purpose of featuring the artistry of the bottles.

Every inch of the space is used — even the wall above the cellar door has cabinetry for bottles. The drawers in the cellar were designed so that they can hold entire wine crates, if needed.

Closet case

Kip Schoonover decided to transform his home office closet into a wine cellar.

“The main focus was utilizing the space and creating an area that you could walk into and enjoy the presence of the wine,” says Schoonover.

The entire closet remodel took about three months — he would sometimes spend 12 hours a day on the weekends working on it. He tore out the dry wall, wrapped everything in plastic, added heavy insulation and rebuilt the walls. The interlocking cedar planks on the walls and the ceiling, along with the stained-glass window and door he found at Sarasota Architectural Salvage, brought together Schoonover’s rustic wine cellar idea.

Most of the wines in Schoonover’s cellar come from the Central Coast of California, where he and his wife frequently visit wineries and explore their wine interests.

Tasteful design

When Mitchell and Dawn Epstein were designing their home wine cellar, their focus was on the functionality of the cellar, because their last cellar wasn’t big enough. The cellar can hold up to 3,000 bottles, and is filled to capacity again when his new shipment arrives. Epstein receives shipments at the end of October and in the spring.

“You work hard to work it down and then to build it up again. And you have a fun time doing both,” says Mitchell.

The Epsteins’ cellar is tailored to their taste. The space is well utilized, mainly for mass storage capacity — the cellar racks are double stacked.

See photos of the wine cellars here.

Building a Collection

Michael Klauber gives tips on how to best stock your wine cellar.

- “It’s about having a diverse collection of wine and sharing it with friends,” Klauber says. 
- Go to wine tastings — “Start exploring what you like, not what people tell you you’re supposed to like.”
- Buy an assortment when shopping for wines, other than what you think you like.
- Once you figure out what you like, work with a merchant. They can recommend new wines to try based on your preferences.

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