Can this be a workable Passive wine cellar/shed

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Aug 25, 2019
Reaction score
Rockaway Beach,New York City
Good Day everyone, first time posting here.

I'm interested in starting to make my own wine prob around 50 gallons to start with. We use to make wine almost every year until my grandfather passed a few years ago and I would like to continue this tradition.

I have a small shed located in the back of my bungalow that I would like to convert into a small wine cellar to store/rack the demijohns which will be holding the wine. I've attached pictures and any input would be GREATLY appreciated. while the room is small is should house a few demijohns without any problems. I plan on insulating the room and roof with most likely R-30 insulation. I live approx 2 blocks from the beach and there is always a slight breeze as well as cooler temp. I am more worried about trapping heat than keeping in cool air as the 1 wall which is attached to the house has my boiler on the other side. That wall is insulated however I will place more inside the shed just to be safe.

Any and all info and opinions are GREATLY Appreciated!!

Thank you!! I live in Rockaway Beach which is in NYC. USDA Zone 7B. The shed is located on the western side of my house. For the past few days its been roughly 78-80 in there way too hot IMO! Going down to around 68-70 at night. Once the fall comes its mainly in the upper 50-60's at night outside. There are no windows in there so I would have to cut a hole out and run some electric as well. Which is why I'm trying to keep it somewhat simple.

Thank You Again
Passive ain't going to cut it I am afraid during the Summer time. More insulation will help but ultimately you will more than likely need some active cooling of some sort during the Summer.
Welcome. You didn’t mention the area or the highs and low temps. In my neck of the world, some insulation and a window AC unit and you would have a nice set-up.
Passive ain't going to cut it I am afraid during the Summer time. More insulation will help but ultimately you will more than likely need some active cooling of some sort during the Summer.
I was hoping I would not have to cut a wall open, but I guess it may be the most feasible option at this point. The room is approx 250 Cubic Ft. Maybe a small portable ac can suffice also?
A small window AC unit is all you need. Try to find one that cycles on and off, versus runs the fan when it hits temperature. That or do what I did and hook the AC into a controller. You want to keep the temps 69 degrees or below and not swing more than 5 degrees or so.
I have a very small GE unit that has the Energy Saver option that like @NorCal said shuts down the unit completely when the set temp is reached. It has been a life saver for me and doesn't cost that much to run in the Summer. It will keep my 160ft2 cellar 65f during the heat of Summer. Days like today (we cooked with a high of 95 which is 15 degrees above normal) and it was like an icebox in the cellar.
Last edited:
You mentioned R30 insulation. That's 9 inches thick and will reduce your available space by a considerable amount. You're definitely going to need a small A/C unit for the warm months. But I'd also be prepared to supply some heat during the winter months. Depending on how warm the area on the other side of the house wall is, you might be able to supply warm air with a simple fan through the wall set up with a second hole for return air. But those cutouts would need to be closed off once you get into the A/C season. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with a portable electric heater running in there unattended.
Thanks for all your input guys!! I'm gonna look into a small AC for sure. And after realizing myself how thick r30 is I may just use that in the ceiling, and stick with r19. As for heat that wall has my boiler and HWH on the other side. Probably why it's been warmer in there. I will have to watch it over the winter when when the temps drop and maybe just place a vent. I would never wanna leave a space heater unattended.

Cant wait to start this project in the next week or so. Unfortunately I have a fractured shoulder at the moment and have basically been in the planning stage. But wine season waits for no one! Lol
One more little piece of advice to consider. It looks like your exterior walls are quite porous with no vapor barrier and will allow a lot of air infiltration. Fiberglass insulation (even with paper or vinyl backing) is a poor substitute for a vapor barrier. Strongly consider using closed cell spray foam insulation on the walls and ceilings, it's a highly effective vapor barrier and will eliminate air infiltration and reduce, if not eliminate, the possibility of condensation / mold / mildew in your wine room. It's also a much more effective barrier from heat and cold (inch for inch) than standard fiberglass insulation.
You mentioned 250 cf, if assuming an 8' ceiling that makes approximately 31 sf. If you invest in something I would recommend allowing for expansion. Even at 50 gallons a year you will probably outgrow it pretty quickly. In January I went from a 16 sf to a 60 sf and will outgrow it this season.
What about the other Rule no. 1 of winemaking?

"there are only two types of winemakers. Those who have dropped a 6 gallon glass carboy full of wine and broken it. And those who someday will....."
That one is more like "If you have a backup hygrometer you will never ever need it. If you only have one hygrometer it is guaranteed to break on a Sunday (all LHBS closed) and right when you are in the middle of trying to measure a boatload of freshly crushed grapes"...

Latest posts