About Our Miami, Florida Wine Cellar Design Specialist—Anabel Peña
Meet Anabel, our design specialist and wine cellar construction expert extraordinaire. Her years of experience as a designer of wine cellars has made her an invaluable addition to this site, helping us understand how an expert views wine storage design and construction, instilling the passion for great design, as well as a deep respect for the technical requirements of building high quality custom wine rooms. Her story will show why she’s such an important part of our team and why you too, should fall in love with wine cellars.
Why Become Obsessed with Wine Cellars?
I always knew that I loved interior design and would one day make it a profession. I launched a successful career as a commercial and residential interior designer for a prominent firm here in Miami, Florida just 15 years ago. But what I didn’t realize before getting into this career, was that I’d discover the joy of building wine cellars, making this the primary focus, and dare I say, “obsession” of my professional life.
The Importance of Wine In Our Culture
Why wine cellars? Well, for one thing, who doesn’t love wine? I quickly realized as I entered adulthood that wine would be a major part of my life, more than simply your ordinary fun drink, but that essential element to any meal. Finding the right glass, of the best vintage, that fits the flavors of the meal that you’re eating, makes the dining experience sparkle.
I’ve realized that eating food, which can sometimes have a rather mundane role in our survival, turns into a celebration of life itself when paired with a great glass of wine.
The Value of Wine Storage In Our Construction
Just as wine is the perfect connection of a meal’s various tastes and themes, I began to see that the wine displays and storage units I was designing for homes and businesses became the most important aspects of the projects. The wine cellar was the connecting room, pulling all of the rooms in a property together, both aesthetically and functionally.
No matter what the intent and purpose of the design, it always seemed that the wine display became the visual focal point of any property that we built. And wine lovers saw their collection as that vital aspect of entertaining, making it a room that “had to work” at a purely practical level.
A wine tasting area became “the best room in the house,” or the “money maker of the business.” Property owners loved their wine cellars.
Why the Least Important Design Element is the Most Important
Why is this the case? On paper, a wine room may seem like the least vital aspect of a home or business. You can always find a way to do without a wine cellar in the design, making do with wine cabinets or coolers. But it’s the superfluous nature of wine that gives it such a prominent place in a space that you’re trying to make “feel like home,” while adding that important touch of luxury and drama.
We as human beings live to enjoy life, not simply to get by. Survival is boring. Celebration of survival is our defining human experience, and wine plays an ever-present place in this ritual.
We Value What We Want, Not What We Need
It’s the same psychology that goes into birthday presents. Men—never buy your wife “something she needs” as a gift. No one wears a vacuum on their finger as a symbol of a loving engagement. It’s the diamonds of life, those frivolous possessions that we want, but don’t need, that we treasure. That which is unnecessary comes to represent what is most necessary—real relationships, love, and connection, truly the most important and essential elements of our existence.
And so a “proper wine stock” becomes that crucial life embellishment.
Wine Cellars—The Most Special Rooms
And so I found that wine cellars, cabinets, displays, and wine tasting rooms became the most exceptional places in all of my designs, the rooms that the owners always treasured above all the others.
It was here that the singular moments happened. It was here that lovers proposed to their fiancés. It was here that intimate conversations of meaning transpired. It was here that families came together. Wine cellars, it turns out, were where it was at!
My Own Personal Connection to My Wine Cellar
As soon as I could afford a wine room of my own, I did so, and I found everything that my client’s were telling me to be true. The wine cellar was the magic place, where the beautiful fairies of imagination seemed to frolic, and happiness dwelt. When I wanted to spend special time with my closest of confidants, it was down to the wine cellar we’d go for intelligent, funny, and heartfelt conversations.
The Importance of Having a Wine Room for Alone Time
Wine rooms also became a special place for alone time. I’d work all day, but it was in the wine room at night where the insights happened, the solutions, and the creative spark was rejuvenated.
I think we really underestimate the importance of time by ourselves. Especially for those of us with children, where the constant presence of lovely children can be both a blessing and curse. I love my little ones, but I cannot be with them all the time. I’d go crazy.
My wine room became my “adults only” club, where humans capable of intelligent conversations could go and quietly rest from the loudness of those in the process of growing-up.
My wine cellar became my muse, if that’s possible for a four-walled room. My greatest thinking, greatest conversations, and best ideas found their inception amongst my wine collection.
Becoming an Advocate for Wine Rooms
I quickly realized as a design professional that if I wanted to wow my clients, a wine cellar was always something to encourage. If they didn’t prefer wine, I’d introduce them to my favorite wine bars, showing them wine culture and talked with them about how adding a cellar to their property would help them act as gracious host to their guests.
I didn’t always convince my clients to add the wine storage system to their design, but those that did always thanked me. “What an inspired idea,” I’d hear over and over again—“We love the wine cellar. So do our guests. It has made the whole project special for us.”
Accepting My Calling as a Wine Cellar Prophetess
Eventually I just relented to fate. After five years in the interior design business I set out on my own, starting a custom wine cellar design firm. We only built wine cellars. It was the best decision of my professional life. I was able to focus on what I loved and knew would make my clients the most happy. And I haven’t looked back since.
Now I help manage this wonderful website, where I get to write about my favorite topics—wine cellar building and design.
Contemporary Wine Storage Design in Miami, Florida
Working and living in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area has been an unexpected advantage to my career and business. It’s a world capital, where different cultures and nationalities meet and merge. It’s not been uncommon for me to build wine rooms in spectacular Miami homes, owned by people with other houses and businesses outside of the United States, giving me the opportunity to then design their next cellar in the Caribbean, South America, or Europe.
Design That Extends Across the Globe
Indeed, wine cellar design has allowed me to visit other countries, becoming a greater citizen of the world. It’s allowed me to build spaces in every conceivable design style—most notably in the modern design—popular here in Florida.
Modern Design for Wine Cellars
When I started in this industry, traditional wine cellars were still the standard, with their wonderful wooden racks and “Cask of Amontillado” ambiance. But in recent years, modern design has grown in popularity all throughout the world, giving me the opportunity to experiment with materials, colors, and aesthetics that have expanded and diversified my portfolio.
There’s something rather stunning about a wine cellar, that symbol of old-world luxury, taking on a contemporary look—sleek, sensuous, and stunning.
Wine Cellar Ideas for the 21st Century
This is a priority of Wine Cellars Florida, offering design options and ideas to our readers that fit this popular set of tastes. The sky’s the limit when it comes to design options for wine cellars. These magnificent modern options are yet more reasons for a designer like myself to become hooked on building wine storage.
Wine Cellar Refrigeration—A Designers Best Friend
There’s also vital technical requirements for wine cellars, which makes them particularly challenging from an architectural standpoint, adding a level of interest to me.
To a designer, building easy isn’t always the goal. I wanted to be pushed and pulled, to learn new techniques, and find creative solutions to challenges in my career. That’s what makes design fun. It’s the old adage—limitations are the fire for creativity.
Maintaining Constant Climate Conditions
Wine storage has many inherent limitations. You have to maintain steady conditions—from temperature, to humidity, and even lighting. When mold is a concern, you have to play it safe. But to a designer, building spectacular spaces requires living on the edge of what’s possible. This could be both a design nightmare, while also creatively empowering. It’s forced me out of my comfort zones, to find interesting new materials and techniques to build and design with.
Wine Barrel Flooring—A Sustainable Option
We’ve found really amazing results working with beautiful and unique materials like wine barrel flooring, a recycled material. This has caused me to think about the importance of using sustainable materials and techniques in my construction habits, a value that I’ve seen many of my clients embrace. Wine cellar construction offers many interesting 21st century design challenges and opportunities.
Loving Wine Cellar Refrigeration Systems and the Contractors Who Build Them
Working in this industry has also forced me to understand the mechanics of wine refrigeration units, not something that I was instinctively drawn to, being more artistic in nature than technical. But this has become an area of our industry for which I’ve found great respect and appreciation. It makes no sense to build a beautiful wine display and have the product become simply destroyed due to the climate shifts that are inherent to our location on the map.
And so I had to learn to love proper wine construction techniques—like installing custom wine refrigeration systems, built by expert HVAC contractors. It meant understanding insulation and the building of vapor barriers. It meant learning to consider the refrigeration needs in my initial design, planning for the cooling unit that would be needed, and finding solutions that fit the space—whether it was ducting the cool air from another room or installing a through-the-wall option.
As my knowledge of wine refrigeration construction increased, it made the entire process better and easier for my contractors. Battling your contractor on the grounds of aesthetics can turn into a bad habit for a designer, one that doesn’t build good working relationships with coworkers that last over time. I had to learn to really partner with the technicians, building wine cellars that both look beautiful, and do what they were supposed to do—store wine properly.
You’re Going to Adore Owning a Wine Cellar Designed by a Specialist
If you’re building a home, restaurant, or store, I highly recommend installing a high quality wine storage unit, whether it’s a custom built room or wine cabinet. I say this, fully embracing my bias as a specialist in the wine cellar industry. I’ve seen time and again how a well-designed and constructed wine cellar can make a property owner ecstatic and amaze their guests. It turns, what might be a normal house, into a luxury home. It can turn the tide on a restaurant’s profit margins, helping them sell more wine, a product becoming more and more vital to many food vendor merchants, both fine dining and casual.
My hope is that as you peruse the pages of this site that you’ll find our passion for wine cellars infectious. I know that building a wine room can bring years of satisfaction and happiness to your life and those you host. You won’t regret it.