A Tale of Two Cellars
Pair of homeowners share a toast
Sharing exceptional wine and food with friends is one of life’s ultimate pleasures. We’re offering a rare peek at two awe-inspiring wine cellars, both with impressive innovation and design yet each distinctively different.
À votre santé
As the Latin saying goes: “There are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one’s present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.” Frequent travelers, homeowners Tom and Donna, find great joy in the vintages of friends. As a young man backpacking through California’s wine county, Tom came upon J. Rochioli Vineyards in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. “I walked in after hours and was told they were closed for the day. I asked the owner if there were any decent spots for fly fishing, we got to talking and hours later ended up in the winery, tasting wines right out of the barrels,” explains Tom. Fast forward to 2011, and you will find J. Rochioli wines prominently displayed throughout their wine room. Tom casually motions toward several other wines, all of them now long-time friends. In this wine cellar, wine truly beholds the heart of others.
Another gem this couple has been lucky enough to discover is the Paso Robles region, often referred to as “the wild west” of the California wine country. Paso Robles’ Saxum Winery produced the James Berry Vineyard 2007, rated #1 Wine of the Year in Wine Spectator’s top 100 of 2010. Tom and Donna have been enjoying this vintage long before the accolades or awards it now holds. “We’ve got a 2008, just in case,” jokes Tom. Uncovering stellar wines is in Tom’s blood. “My father,” he explains, “had very limited taste in wine, but excellent taste nonetheless. He drank only First Growths and Grand Crus.”
If wine is the drink of gods, then Cheryl is an angel. Sewickley homeowners Cheryl and Steve, each successful business executives in their own right, thrive on the challenge of purchasing fine wines before their time. Case in point, quite literally—was uncovering a notable bottle of wine in Argentina, selling for $32. “Nearly six months later this same wine was featured in Wine Spectator, at a mere $300 a bottle,” smiles Cheryl.
Creating this wine cellar was both a necessity and a labor of love for Cheryl. After moving into their new home, which didn’t have a cellar, Cheryl was faced with the challenge of creating—first in her mind, and then on paper—the perfect home for the family’s 2,000+ bottle wine collection. “I clipped photos in magazines, searched resources on the Internet,” she explains as she shows off a file full of photos, blueprints and papers.
“I was the general contractor,” she laughs.
A perfectionist and self-proclaimed “visual” type of person, Cheryl’s project took only four months from start to finish. A cascading waterfall is the focal point as you enter this masterfully designed cellar through one-of-a-kind redwood doors with iron inlay. Meticulously planned, Cheryl’s attention to detail and personal signatures are present in every aspect of the cellar. Great wine usually grows on poor soil like limestone, so including limestone from Burgundy on a wine cellar floor seems only fitting, and reflects authentic old-world charm. The space is cavernous, but somehow remains cozy and warm. “It’s very comfortable. It welcomes you, it makes you want to open the door and go in,” she says.
Cheryl’s husband, Steve, has painstakingly charted the cellar by wine type, region, and year. The couple’s interests are primarily in reds, mostly Burgundy and Super Tuscans, but the rare special whites can be found sparingly sprinkled throughout. “Wine is my husband’s passion,” explains Cheryl. “It’s the only thing he spends money on.”
Her quest for the perfect home for their formerly homeless wine collection, and a masterpiece for her husband now stands complete.
You’ll find wines from all over the world at the ninth annual Pittsburgh Wine Festival at Heinz Field on Thursday, May 5.
Architect: Anthony Stillson, Stillson & Associates; Wine racking: Vinotemp; Westside Winecellars; General contractor: Gary Mogielski; Granite countertop: Dente Classic & Exotic Stone; fabricated by Phillips Granite; Ceramic flooring: Tony Cafarelli