The Ultimate Home Tour: The Wine Room

<< Back to Robb Report, April 2006

When the owners of a Northern California winery purchased this 20,000-square-foot home in Southern California five years ago, it lacked what is for this particular couple an essential feature: a wine cellar. “I wanted a room where I could keep my collection of wine, as well as a place where people would want to spend time,” says the husband. “So often when you see wine cellars, they are cold, dark, and gloomy—you practically have to bribe people to hang out with you there.”

The former entertainment executive and his wife, who have been producing wine in Napa Valley under their own label since the early 1990s, enlisted the house’s original architects, Hablinski+Manion of Beverly Hills, Calif., to help them convert an existing loggia into a 400-square-foot room for wine storage and a 700-square-foot space for entertaining. “When we built the house, the loggia was intended to be a lovely exterior living space that would act as an extension of the main indoor living areas,” says William Hablinski, the firm’s senior partner. “However, it ended up as a great space to enclose for a wine room since it overlooks a beautiful garden and is on the main level, so that you don’t feel isolated.”

At the center of the room—which has become the husband’s retreat, where he hosts informal wine tastings and entertains business associates—is a crescent-shaped mahogany table. It was built in the early 19th century in England, where it most likely was used for serving breakfast after morning hunts. “It allows me to sit and serve my friends and still have everyone be involved in the action, whether there are two people or six,” says the husband, who arranged the entire room around the table.

The owners equipped the room’s cabinets with refrigeration that maintains the optimal temperature for their collection, which includes Bordeaux vintages that date to 1948 and a 1974 Martha’s Vineyard from Heitz Cellars. Napa Valley designer Rodney Friedrich helped the owners incorporate technical features that prevent the glass doors from fogging, ensure the cabinetry remains airtight, and distribute the cool air evenly.

“When you own a winery, you are essentially a farmer,” says the husband. “But at the end of the day, instead of potatoes, you have wine. It’s nice to have something that is not only a job but a hobby and a lifestyle, too.”

“[The loggia] ended up as a great space to enclose for a wine room since it overlooks a beautiful garden and is on the main level, so that you don’t feel isolated.”

Hablinski+Manion Architecture, 310.858.8525, www.hablinski-manion.com
Friedrich Co., 707.963.7600

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