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Wine caves are used for the storage and aging of wine. Caves naturally produce an ideal enviornment for this.
The average temperture of a wine cave is around 55 F. to 60 F. This temperature remains constant throughout the year.
Wine caves maintain a constant 90% humidity which prevents wine evaporation during aging.

Economic Benefits of a Wine Cave

1.   90% humidity found in caves prevents loss of wine due to evaporation.  (5% loss occurs in barrels above ground.  This adds up economically.  Wine caves prevent loss.)

2.  Less labor.

3.  Savings in energy bills due to no need for refrigeration costs.  Only electricity is required.

4.  Little additional construction expense because wine caves last practically forever.

Quality Benefits of Wine Caves - A Means of Producing Better Wines

1.  Prolonged aging of temperature sensitive wines.

2.  Ideal environment for barrel aging - especially Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

3.  Storage of empty wine barrels without drying them out.

4.  Less evaporation of wines (see above) so vintners can pick at a higher Brix and produce a less alcholic wine that still has the rich flavors of fully ripe grapes.

5.  Caves absorb much of the heat generated in barrel fermentation of white wine.

6.  Riddling of sparkling wines is faster in caves because of the stillness of the environment.

Structural Qualities of a Wine Cave

Various systems are used to support wine cave tunnels.  The method used depends on the type of ground encountered.  The first choice is shotcrete, a concrete mix that is sprayed on the walls and ceilings.  It can be used to provide early strong support.  If you keep the intregrity of the arch of the tunnel, which is self supporting, you have an even stronger tunnel with additonal layers of shotcrete.  A second method is supporting with shotcrete, wire mesh, and rock bolts.  Most ground can be controlled with this method.  In difficult flowing types of ground, such as sandy soils, steel arches are installed.  Wire mesh is then placed between the supports and the spaces are filled with shotcrete.  As a general rule, when tunnels have larger spans, more support is required.  A properly constructed wine cave is very strong and safe.  Many wine cave owners will tell you their cave is the best place to be during an earthquake.