Even with real estate prices leveling off, it’s hard to pony up the bucks for extra square footage just for wine storage. That means anyone with more than enough wine to share with friends at a good party tends to have bottles stashed in kitchen racks, tucked away in closets, and hidden under beds. That might be fine if you’re investing in nothing more than Two Buck Chuck, but the rest of us with more expensive taste-or, perhaps, simply taste-are at risk. “Think of wine as a perishable,” says Bob Wesley, owner of The Winehound. “You wouldn’t drive around on a hot afternoon with $100 worth of prime steaks sitting in the back seat of your car, so don’t do that to wine!”
That means both locally and nationally, as wine collecting (or, as my wife calls it, “buying too much wine”) grows as a concern for foodies, people are looking for places to store wine. Most recently, the Carey Group decided to get into the wine-designated storage business. Already owners of Patterson Self-Storage, they knew some people were using that space to store wine. That spurred them to create Santa Barbara Cellars, where they could control both temperature and humidity.
“It’s high tech, what we’re going for,” said marketing director Rea Warrecker. “The building is aimed at 55 degrees, plus or minus, since you can’t quite control for people closing and opening the door. You have to be concerned about someone who can promise a steady exact temperature.”
Santa Barbara Cellars can promise not only security-your electronic code to enter the building allows only the lock to your locker to work with your key, for instance-but a personal touch. Warrecker explained, “We’re very customer-service oriented. We even have someone on duty during the day who can sign in your wine shipments sent here directly.” That last service is particularly helpful for wine buyers who don’t want to have to sign (as someone 21 years old or older must) for wines UPS’d to their place of work, where it might not seem seemly to have cases of wine keep showing up.
Of course, Santa Barbara Cellars is pleasant enough that someone might choose to stay there and have their wine go to work. Each area has a wine-themed name like Bordeaux or Chianti; everything is meticulously clean; the metalwork-all stainless steel to prevent mold-was manufactured by national leader Janus International; and the refrigeration and humidity system was built by San Luis Obispo’s Wighton’s Inc. No expense was spared to keep your wine happy and uncooked. “Cooked wine tends to taste fruitless, and reminds me of wine made from grapes that get sunburned,” described Wesley. “There’s a cooked flavor, say, like the difference between a fresh plum off the produce cart versus one that’s been sauteed in a pan on the stove.”
Wine storage in Santa Barbara isn’t just for mega-collectors, either; companies know you might have anywhere from four to 500 cases, and can offer you space for any amount in that range. It’s a great opportunity to remain calm, cool, and collected-both you and your best bottles.