Review: The Most Beautiful Cellars in the World

Jurgen Lijcops and Astrid Fobelets have traveled the globe in search of the very best wine cellars. Fobelets and her co-author Lijcorps—a well-noted chef and sommelier—set out to explore their common passion, and now have shared it with the rest of us. Their new book, The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars in the World, covers nearly 60 of the most renowned wine cellars, offering stunning visuals and detailed narrative. The book will appeal to those who not only appreciate wine, but also centuries of wine history.

The authors present the material chronologically, starting with a tour of the Marques de Riscal in Elciego, Spain. The winery dates back to 1858, but is complemented by an addition by contemporary architect Frank O. Gehry. As the timeline drives forward, it makes the reader wonder about what wine cellars might be like in the future, and the collection ends with Danny Venlet’s Virtual Cellar, a completely modern, contemporary, edgy design using new materials, lighting, and color. This futuristic design deconstructs wine cellars as we know them.

The authors also shine light on the structural requirements of a good cellar. These demanding spaces take careful thought and planning before the first bottle can move in, but design challenges offer an opportunity for creativity. Construction of the room should be the first consideration; a wine cellar is meant for long-term storage, so it’s critical to create an environment that regulates temperature, humidity, air quality, lighting, vibration, ventilation, and even odors. Once these essentials are covered, the designer can focus on aesthetics, letting the cellar express the unique charm and personality of its owner.

A designer’s job is to ensure that, first and foremost, the finished space meets the owner’s requirements. Will it be used for simple storage, for entertaining, or as a secret haven? The authors profile a variety of owners, from producers and merchants, to hotels and restaurants, to private individuals. These cellars differ dramatically, both visually and in how they satisfy the unique requirements of each type of owner. Whether it is a 19th century cellar fit for a king, or one built to house a modern private collection, each reflects the story of its owner.

The portfolio of diverse cellars exemplify many cultural attitudes toward wine. A cellar might house everyday table wine or the most expensive Château Lafite. But even in the smallest of spaces, a skilled designer can give homage to the grandeur and allure of wine. The cellar can create the perfect backdrop for an owner’s passion, and the memories conjured by their favorite bottle. There are a range of examples here from all over the world, giving the reader a sense of the diversity of personal and cultural sentiments about wine.

The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars in the World is a gem for any wine collector, wine aficionado, wine historian, or design addict. Readers can get lost in the pages; the beautiful photography reveals the mystery, grandeur, and personality of each cellar. It is a book to hold onto, daydream with from time to time, and cherish for years to come.

Founder of Offay Design Studio, Kimberly Riley is an award winning interior designer.  She has over 11 years of professional design experience and brings a broad knowledge of interior design, both in residential and commercial projects.  She specializes in wine cellars, tasting rooms, wineries, etc. and is passionate about historic interior design and preservation. She is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and Past Programming Director for the Los Angeles Founding Chapter of NEWH. She holds membership with the Los Angeles Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.