My wife Jamie shouted down to me in my home office on a lazy Sunday morning “Skip, did you see the Sunday Seattle Times magazine section on the wine cellars?”
I wandered upstairs and read the article about a Seattle couple who had installed a Spiral Cellar in their home. With each paragraph I got more excited. Finally, an answer to what we needed to keep from ruining my good wines in a house that has very rapid temperature shifts. We already had a great place for entertaining with a great view of the Puget Sound. We just needed a good place to store wines that could be installed in our house for a reasonable price and not a lot of construction disruption. At first blush, the design seemed to fit our needs.
So I jumped on the Internet to look at the information on the website. I found out that it was a UK company that had just set up a U.S. distributor who happened to be in Redmond, WA. The website was actually very informative including videos of the one week installation process. They also had a 30 page brochure which showed a number of installations along with one of the key features which is a completely passive cooling system for keeping the temperature relatively constant year round. The pricing looked good.
OK. I want one. So I immediately sent off an email to the US contact early Sunday morning. Within a couple of hours I had a response from the owner, Scott. We started an email dialogue about being able to visit an actual installation. Jamie pointed out that it wasn’t very clear from the photos how large the actual wine cellar was and could my increasingly overweight body actually get down to the bottom of the cellar and place bottles on the last row. Scott arranged a visit to an installation in West Seattle for the next week.
We lifted the door up and I couldn’t believe how spacious the cellar was. We slowly and carefully descended to the bottom of the cellar and there was plenty of room for both Jamie and I to stand comfortably at the bottom of the cellar. All of the “bins” were easily reachable. I couldn’t believe how cool the cellar was from such a simple passive air movement system. We were sold.
Scott and Rob were then kind enough to show us the whole installation below the floor level to see how they were able to put the cellar into even a six foot crawl space. About that time Rob’s wife came home and he was kind enough to invite us to share a bottle of 2004 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red Wine. Twist my arm.
As we left, we let Scott know that we were ready to buy. The next step was for a site visit to see how viable an installation site we had. That was arranged for the following week. Scott was still in start up mode so not only was he looking for customers, but for customers that would be willing to be showcase sites for Spiral Cellars. He also shared that his installer was going through the next level of training in the UK so it would be a while before we could get a set of plans and installation schedules set up.
The site visit indicated that there was enough room to place the cellar in the entry way and that there was an easy way to run the PVC pipes to the west wall for passive ventilation. Everything looked good and Scott shared that it would be a couple of weeks before we could write up a contract. He wanted to have his installer go through the two weeks of training in the UK so that we could do all of the estimates and planning accordingly. OK, but could you just hurry it up. I’m ready. “I want it ALL!” (to quote the Queen song).
After Scott left, Jamie and I reflected on the visit. It hit me like a ton of concrete blocks (or three tons as the case may be). It’s going to take months to get this installed. The special concrete blocks for the cellar are only manufactured in the UK which means not only do we have to go through a custom order but we have to wait for the blocks to be shipped from the UK to Seattle, WA. Arrghh! So we had just entered the old material realm of the global economy in “World Wide Wait” mode.