Welcome to Our Wine Cellar

By Karen Shughart

To celebrate my birthday this month, my husband took me to lunch at a delightful restaurant/winery with a gorgeous view of Seneca Lake. The restaurant’s impressive wine list includes not only their wines but also others from the Finger Lakes and throughout the United States and Europe.

Maybe it’s because of the flourishing wine industry here – the Finger Lakes is the largest producer of wines in New York – that wine features prominently in our social life. Each night before dinner my husband and I enjoy a glass; every meal we share with friends at their homes or ours and when dining out, includes wine. We sip, we taste, we compare, and we share. It’s part of the culture.

A few years ago, we created a wine cellar in a part of our basement. There was this room beneath our kitchen with thick stone walls and a stone floor. It may once have been a cistern; the house is about 135 years old. Remarkably, in both the heat of summer and chill of winter, that space stays cool at about 56 degrees.

The room was one I never, ever ventured into. It was dark and gloomy with cobwebs, old doors, rusted paint cans, a hodgepodge of debris and a broken wooden table, plus I could only imagine the creepy crawlers that lurked there. Then, one day, my husband decided to clean it out; get rid of all the junk. After that it took on a completely different character.

The stone walls were charming; the floor was, too. It was wired for electricity, there was a burned-out bare bulb hanging from the ceiling.  Then it struck me.  We had always wanted to be able to accumulate a good selection of wines, but our storage options had been limited.  It would make a perfect wine cellar.

Just outside the room we hung a round, wooden sign: “Welcome to Our Wine Cellar.” We bought a light fixture to hang from the ceiling. We found an authentic wine barrel that we placed in one corner of the room; a huge Finger Lakes wine country poster sits in another. We purchased racks and started filling them, rows organized by varietal.

 A colorful rug anchors the middle of the room with a small, rectangular table covered in a Provencal print, a perfect spot for wine glasses and bottles to open for tastings.  We installed an electric fireplace for those chilly wine-tasting nights during the winter.

Our journey began with an appreciation for wine and the abundance of vineyards so close to where we live. It continued with the creation of our wine cellar, now with a decent collection of Finger Lakes wines and others from around the world.  I’m not certain it would exist if we lived elsewhere.


Karen Shughart is the author of the Edmund DeCleryk cozy mystery series, published by Cozy Cat Press. She has also co-written two additional mysteries with Cozy Cat authors, two non-fiction books, and is a blogger at Ladies of Mystery, www.ladiesofmystery.com.  A member of CWA, North America Chapter, and F.L.A.R.E. (Finger Lakes Authors and Readers Experience), she lives with her husband, Lyle, in Sodus Point, NY.  Her books are available in multiple formats at local gift shops and bookstores and at Amazon.

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