Love entertaining? Then you need London’s latest essential accessory for oenophiles – the wine cellar. Spiral Cellars’ managing director Lucy Hargreaves tells The Resident about the wonders of wine cellars, wine wardrobes and bespoke wine rooms
Words: Madeleine Howell
Any party host worth their salt seems to suddenly have a bespoke wine cellar stocked with vintage reds, drinkable whites and prestigious champagnes aplenty. But where did this trend come from?
Entrepreneur Lucy Hargreaves is partly responsible for the burgeoning trend in south west London. Since she joined Spiral Cellars in 2004 and bought out the whole business in August 2015, it has, um, spiralled. Last year the company installed over 200 cellars at an average cost of £30,000.
The craze is set to continue. The business, which has offices in Wimbledon, saw a 25% increase in sales in January compared to the same month last year. Since then, Brexit may have put a spanner in the works for some, but with it being back to school and back to business, many see an elegant, accessible wine fixture as a way to inject a much-needed bit of fun into the home.
‘We’ve installed hundreds in south west London,’ she tells me. ‘It’s not just that they provide the best conditions for wine – they’re also aesthetically desirable, and are becoming a key feature of upmarket properties.’
Sam Sproston, office head and partner at Knight Frank in Wandsworth, agrees: ‘Wine cellars are becoming an increasingly important feature in homes at the top end of the market,’ he says. ‘Fine wine collections are seen as both a good investment and a source of pride, so cellars need to provide a space where they can be both stored and admired.’
Wine cellars are becoming an increasingly important feature in homes at the top end of the market. Fine wine collections are seen as both a good investment and a source of pride
Spiral Cellars have the edge when it comes to bespoke design. ‘The full circle designs are stunning and popular in larger properties,’ says Hargreaves, ‘but they require a certain amount of space. Our spiral cellar is our signature design, and can be fitted into the ground in any ground floor room. We also create walk-in wine rooms, which allow a larger collection of wine to be artfully displayed, and wine wardrobes or wine walls, which are a made-to-measure solution and work well as a feature wall.
‘With the spiral cellars, a client may prefer a glass door, which allows them to view the wine as they walk over it, or they might opt for a subtle, concealed door. It can be quite fun to have a secret trapdoor, and then you can reveal it your guests,’ laughs Hargreaves.
‘One client had us install a spiral cellar in her husband’s study while the family were on holiday, underneath a rug that had always been there, and when they came back and told him to go and look underneath it was a wonderful surprise.’
As well as timber, a Spiral Cellars’ recent commissions have used materials like stainless steel and glass to make for a dramatic display. ‘Copper and metallic materials and metal panel backdrops are popular. We also have a lot of hi-tech options available to us,’ explains Hargreaves. ‘We can install locks with finger-print technology, glass that turns opaque at the flick of the switch, and remotely controlled sensors.’ She notes an overall shift in London homes that chimes with this style. ‘We’re seeing more and more hotel-style homes, replicating high end restaurants and hotels,’ she explains.
We also have a lot of hi-tech options available. We can install locks with finger-print technology, glass that turns opaque at the flick of the switch, and remotely controlled sensors
Hargreaves places a big emphasis on using British craftsmen and artisans. ‘It makes for a better quality, and makes it easier for us to see the production process and the raw materials for ourselves,’ she tells me. Hargreaves has opted for a wine wall in her own home, and is about to get to work on designing and installing a cocktail unit. ‘Cocktails and wine go hand in hand when it comes to entertaining,’ she says. ‘I love Fulham Wine Rooms. It’s great for exploring new wines. I like Italian wine, like Gaja Barbaresco and Cervaro.’
What are her top tips for storing wine? ‘It has to be stored at between 12 and 15 degrees and at 70% humidity, and be free of both UV light and vibration,’ she advises. ‘Tube lines can create harmful vibrations. The wine ages well with a gentle temperature fluctuation from summer to winter. It doesn’t have to be completely static. The bottle should be kept on its side, and the cork has to remain moist so that it doesn’t shrink and oxidise the wine.’ So if you haven’t already got a wine cellar, it’s time to invest – and if you have, perhaps you should consider installing a cocktail unit in time for Christmas…