Drinkers Wanted
Wine Spectator|November 30, 2017

A St. Paul collector strikes a balance between refined design and grab ’n’ go wine service

Ben Lasman

To determine the size for his cellar, Tom Votel did some simple math: Two bottles a day times 365 days a year equals space for less than 750 wines. A “drink up” sensibility runs through the collection, in the converted lower-level kitchenette of his home in the St. Paul suburb of Sunfish Lake, Minn.

“I wanted wine around me that I like and can enjoy with other people without getting too into the library, antiquarian aspect of wine collecting,” Votel says. “Our cellar was made intentionally small and practical. It was designed as a drinking cellar.”

On that count, the space succeeds with aplomb. The open design trades clinical glass panels and vault like aesthetics for an accessible, welcoming appearance, enabling an easy flow from serving station to sitting area to patios. Climate-controlled cabinets and an ingenious air-vent system moderate temperatures across the room, keeping Chardonnays racked on the left cooler than Cabernets on the right.

“Before I built the cellar, I was keeping my wine in the coolest and darkest place I could in our basement,” Votel recalls. “No controls at all. I was getting frustrated by having wine spoil.”

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