Sixteen years ago, in San Francisco, Michael and Tina fell in love over great food and wine. “With me loving food and Michael loving wine, we were cooking all the time and ended up drinking his entire 40-bottle collection,” Tina explains of the first two months of their courtship. “What better way is there to get to know each other?”
As newlyweds, the couple enjoyed living on the west coast and weekend trips to Napa, and Michael’s wine collection grew to fill a closet of their Bay Area home. But after their first son was born, they wanted to be closer to their families in Cincinnati. When they moved here in 2010, a huge requirement for that house was wine storage. “We built a 900-bottle wine cellar in that home,” Tina says.
When work required the couple to move back to San Francisco two years later, they needed to put 1,000 bottles of wine in storage. Eventually in 2015, they were able to—once again—move back to Cincinnati. By that time their collection had grown to over 1,750 bottles and it needed a dedicated—and sizable—location.
In reserve for remodel
“As soon as I saw the space, I knew that was where the cellar had to go,” Tina explains of the curved wall on the lower level of her would-be home. “The outside of the house is beautiful and timeless, but the interior needed a lot of work.”
With help from the team at Neal’s Design Remodel, the couple renovated the main level of their home first, while living out of the full kitchen in the lower level. Once the first phase of renovation was complete, Tina and Michael regrouped with Neals and began work on their wine cellar and bar.
While they knew the wine cellar would be placed in the room with the curved wall, they were initially stumped about what to put in the adjoining room. The wine bar was the perfect answer. A partial wall was removed to open the space to the sunken lower level creating an open floor plan that works wonderfully for entertaining.
“They had one heck of a wine collection, but it remained in California until they had their wine cellar here completed,” says Neal’s senior designer Cyndi Kohler.
Tina and Michael knew they didn’t want the traditional mahogany look in their 2,200-bottle cellar. The couple worked with Wine Cellar Innovations to design the black racking system. “And I knew it had to be an entire glass wall across the front,” Tina describes of the glass wall installed by Ryan’s All-Glass. “They do it all the time in San Francisco, so I wanted it in Cincinnati.”
“One of the biggest challenges of this project was the amount of glass used for the opening,” says Mike Hendy, Neal’s project manager. “We had to work as a team with our HVAC contractor Anderson Automatic, Wine Cellar Innovations, and Ryan’s All-Glass to ensure that we sized the system correctly for maintaining a certain humidity level and temperature for the wine in such a large space.”
Tina explains that one of their design desires was to create a nice flow between the main and lower levels of the home. “Upstairs everything is white and fresh, but the lower level is a bit darker—with grays—but it’s still very fresh,” she says. “We matched the stain on the wine cellar racks with a dark gray paint to use outside on the new wine bar.”
The wine bar itself is the perfect place to host a gathering, whether having wine or cocktails, but there isn’t a lot of space to prep or organize food, so that is where the third phase of the renovation came in with the lower level kitchenette.
“All the prep work is done in the back kitchen and all the serving is done from the wine bar,” Kohler explains. The kitchenette was reconfigured to be more open and was updated with a new look, tying it in with the bar. “It’s amazing how well the cabinets fit in their new, open configuration.”
“I always called myself a chef, but I decided to make it official,” Tina says as she nears completion of schooling at the Midwest Culinary Institute. “The education has taken my cooking to the next level, which is fun.”
Previously a director of human resources in Silicon Valley, Tina knew she wanted to get involved in philanthropy when she moved to Cincinnati and Dress for Success was a perfect fit. Tina and Michael host a wine tasting at their home each year as a fundraiser. “About 60 women come to the house, Michael presents a handful of different wines for tastings and then he gives them tours of the wine cellar,” Tina explains. “He’s the resident sommelier, and, of course, I’m the chef.”
“We also donate six-course dinners and wine pairings to be auctioned off at local charity events,” she says. “Guests come to our home, tour the cellar, start downstairs with hors d’oeuvres and champagne and then go up to the dining room for dinner. One dinner went for $7,500, so we poured some amazing wine that night. So far, we have raised over $50,000 for different charities over the last few years hosting wine-paired dinners and tastings, which is something that we are truly proud of.”
RESOURCES Contractor Neal’s Design Remodel, Project manager Mike Hendy, Designer Cyndi Kohler; Bar cabinetry Brookhaven Frameless Cabinetry; Bar leather inserts Osborne and Little Lyceum Aldwych; Wine room countertop Caesarstone Bianco Drift; Walnut countertop on bar CaféCountertops; Tile backsplash FriendlyWall by Finium; Tile floor Alfa Valmenco Crema 12×24, Hamilton Parker; Antique mirrors Ryan’s All-Glass; Appliances U-Line beverage refrigerator; Bosch oven; Wine racks Wine Cellar Innovations; Glass wall/doors Ryan’s All-Glass; Kitchenette Cabinetry Painted Sherwin-Williams Manor House; Countertop Trinity, Mont Granite; Flooring Alfa Yalmenco 12×24, Hamilton Parker; Appliances GE refrigerator; Bosch dishwasher; Faucet Delta Cassidy; HVAC Anderson Automatic; Exercise room flooring R&B Zip Tile Black on Black Rubber, McSwain
Article by Sarah J. Dills/Photos by Robin Victor Goetz
Article originally appeared in Housetrends Cincinnati – December 2019/January 2020