1WineDude TV Episode 12: Welcome to My (Wine Storage) Nightmare

Vinted on June 9, 2010 binned in 1WineDude TV, wine products

In the latest 1WineDude video installment, I test out a sample of wine racks from GrottoCellars.com, act like an immature goofball, impose my will onto an unsuspecting Roomba robot vacuum cleaner at high video speeds, and tweak out my back.

Just another day at the office!






  • Evan Dawson

    I can relate to this headache, Joe. We have one main wine refrigerator in our cellar (basement!), and that's where the best bottles reside. Then it's a combination of a riddling rack, several smaller racks, and lots of bottles on the floor. You make a good point about the difference in fridge quality, and as expensive as it is, I'm trying to get myself to make a purchase because wine needs to be protected. Especially for a geek like me who is laying bottles down.

    • 1WineDude

      Hey man – EuroCave and their direct competitors make awesome stuff, it's just $$$$!

      • Evan Dawson

        I'd love to lay down the coin for that. Do you guard your finest bottles in a different way than most bottles that come your way?

        • 1WineDude

          Me too. I don't do anything special for the special-occasion wines, apart from not touching them for long periods of time :-).

  • @voxinferior

    There's a little bit of disconnect between telling prospective bloggers not to expect a bunch of free samples, and then seeing the credits at the end revealing that the storage unit is a free sample ("I get a boatload of free stuff, but you certainly won't") Strictly speaking, the provenance of your bottles is immaterial to this episode, though I suppose most of your regular readers (me, Evan, & RP?) are familiar with your sample storage quandry. At any rate, looks like a good solution, & I hope you'll let us know how it works for you long term. Is there any other temperature control or insulation going on in that part of your basement?

    • 1WineDude

      Hey – I certainly understand your interpretation on the disconnect (inherent contradiction?) of showing a storage issue of lots of samples and telling people not to expect lots of samples for blogging. But, it's true – I felt compelled to say it because frankly I was really worried that the vid. might give the wrong impression to some viewers. No one should expect to get a ton of wine simply because they are blogging – period. It may come, but not usually as a consequence of someone simply wanting them. Hope that makes sense.

      As for the storage – no plans to add humidity or temp. control. It's mostly underground and the area is insulated already from the rest of the basement, which is finished. I've got some experience (7 years or so) now with how wine develops having rested in that area and for the purposes of the blog it presents no issues. Would a wine age perfectly down there for 20+ years? Probably not, but I'd confidently say that it could develop a wine for the better part of 10 years without significant negative impacts (at least, that's what I'm betting on, anyway! :-).


  • Richard Scholtz

    Color me jealous. What is the temperature of your basement, and how much does it flucuate throughout the year? I would imagine being in the Northeast, it's pretty moderate.

    I've got a friend that has a similar storage space, using similar racks. He has a humidity and temperature controlling unit built into the wall. It looks like a small air conditioner, and it's a necessity here in Texas. I've never asked how much it cost, but I bet it's cheaper than a complete refrigeration cabinet.

    • 1WineDude

      Richard – the temp. is about 56F in the winter and around 67F in the summer, moving slowly from one to the other and back down again over the course of several months.

  • Steve Heimoff

    Re: free samples for bloggers, I've been asking PR and mktg. people how many bloggers they send samples to and the number is actually higher than I thought. It seems to average 30-40. That's actually pretty expensive when you factor in the cost of wine and shipping. I would think sooner or later these PR people are going to have to whittle their lists down but you, Joe, will certainly remain.

    • 1WineDude

      Hey Steve – That is surprisingly high. I agree that at some point the tide will ebb; what more of the PR folks should be looking at more closely (IMHO) is which bloggers should get the samples for their clients, because targeting the right blogger is important for their brands' messages in a similar way as advertising in the right newspaper or magazine…


  • Steve Heimoff

    Dude that is exactly what the PR people are looking at. I think it would be interesting if somebody did a poll of top winery PR folks to ask what metrics they use in determining who the right bloggers are. Do they just go on reputations and anecdotal info, or do they have firm measurements they use?

    • 1WineDude

      Steve, from my experience it's all over the place and most of the PR folks are not yet approaching it the way that we're describing. One of the ones who are getting it right (again, just my opinion) is Brand Action Team, they use a fairly complex amalgamation of several statistics but also potential influence and try to match client brands to the right blogs after narrowing the field with those stats / reputation and then discussing the goals of the blog with the authors, etc.

      I'm sure it's a pain in the ass, but if it was easy then all the PR firms would have it nailed down tight already :-).

  • @GrottoCellars

    Was that a Roomba dance?? ;-) Seriously awesome. Great video and those racks are looking mighty fine. Glad it worked out for you!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks! I'm kind of shocked that no one commented on the "crotch-thrust" move in the dance section… maybe it went by too fast…

      Thanks to you folks at GC for setting me up and giving me the opportunity to try those out. I was really impressed with the quality of the diamond bin especially, and the fact that it ships assembled is nice for those of us who aren't overly handy.

      I would suggest that anyone considering racks of this size also stock up on extra wood screws and/or brackets. I used both – extra screws to secure the racks to their bases, and brackets to secure the racks to one another (I didn't secure them to the wall, since this a very low-traffic spot in the house and it would take a lot of force to bring down the racks once loaded with wine and secured to one another.


      • @GrottoCellars

        No, I saw it :) It was awesome. You do indeed have skillz!

        Great points for the extra wood screws and brackets. We are in the middle of setting up installation videos for the main racks but we have found it helpful for those diamond bins. ;-)

        • 1WineDude

          Good idea on the vids. I suggest NOT including dance moves or roomba's in your vids, though. Don't get too carried away…

          • @GrottoCellars

            No, I saw it :) It was awesome. You do indeed have skillz!

            • @GrottoCellars

              err, weird. I meant to hit cancel on that comment since it was a repeat of yesterday but my mouse slipped…

  • 1WineDude

    I should also note that my collection of comic books from my high school years was also unharmed in the making of this vid. The roomba appears to be unharmed but may, in fact, suffer deep emotional scarring from witnessing my dance moves.

  • sipwithme

    Wine storage is so often overlooked. If you live someplace with extreme temperatures, if you don't have a fridge, you're probably killing your wines. Having done PR for a winery, they most certainly calculate bloggers in with their press samples. Wineries know they have to send bottles out for review and the smart ones will even calculate a percentage of how many cases they produced and figure their list from there. As the trend in publications and reviews shift, the wineries continue to see greater results targeting bloggers over traditional mediums. As for the wine fridge, sounds like your basement might be a more stable option. The world has been aging wine just fine for years without them. If you live somewhere with extreme temperatures however, you surely would want the fridge to the wine stable, I've heard the Eurocaves are the bomb, can you get a sample of one of those?

    • 1WineDude

      Hi sipwithme – A sample Eurocave? Damn, you aim high! :)

      Just curious, what are the results that the PR folks are seeing with bloggers? I ask because I constantly hear that blogger coverage doesn't translate to sales (at least, they don't seem to be linked when measuring with traditional ROI tools).


  • @norcalwingman

    I love it. One note on mid/cheaper wine fridges. They Suck! I've had two Haier 42 bottle capacity units, both failed miserably (didn't know that they would kill my wine)

    I had one lose it's temp sensor and drop the fridge down to cold and pushed corks. I lost about 4 bottles because of that one.

    On a side note. Unplugged they actually do okay. The fridge part is insulated and seems to maintain temp better than the office closet!

    Joe, you have wicked dance moves.


    • 1WineDude

      Brian – whoa, that fridge pushed corks?!?? Holy crap!

      And thanks – finally someone acknowledges the dance skilz!!! :-)

  • sipwithme

    Yes, I do like to shoot for the moon, why not!

    Re: PR and bloggers – I think a lot of what you hear is catch phrases and knee-jerk negative responses from people who are afraid to make that shift, same as with social media. The ROI is more difficult to measure, but savvy PR people and wineries understand the need for building brands and reaching new, fresh audiences and are willing to make that investment. The wine samples to bloggers are actually considerably more cost effective than tradtional advertising. Just like a 94 pt score from Wine Spectator will sell out a vintage, so have blog posts.

    • 1WineDude

      If blog posts are selling out a vintage, that's news to me…!

  • Ted Henry

    Dude, got to give you a warning on the diamond bins. I lost a load of wine because I stacked a case or so of Burgundy shaped bottles that were not very stable resting on each other (due to the shape of the glass). One day one fell and dominoed every bottle to the floor where it landed on a nice 6L of cab breaking that too. Looked like a crime scene, had to rip out the carpet etc..

    Probably operator error but a word of warning anyway….

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Ted – duly noted. I've had one bottle land on its screwcap already that way, and so had to open and sample it (which turned out to be a boon, as the wine was quite good!).

  • Nancy

    I have heard that the Eurocaves are made in France and if one breaks down… you have a hard time getting it repaired. Just what I have heard.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Nancy – that might be true, but the trade-off of awesomeness might be worth it…

  • ReloWizz

    Cool video, would have been good to see you putting the rack together especially to see which parts of the instructions were 'goofy'. I've bought a number of racks over the years and have to say IMHO that the Grotto racks were the best by far, no exposed screws, sturdy, no splinters! I didn't have any problems with the instructions but I didn't buy as big of a rack as you show, I certainly have had serious problems assembling and then using others.

    It will be interesting to see how the rack holds up loaded as yours obviously will be in a year or so. I know I shall be moving to California in a year and will want to get a complete wine cellar (read 'real' LOL). I love the picture on the Grotto site of the refrigerated cellar under the stairs, as there are no basements in California it's going to be my best or only option.

    and as an aside do you think there's a law about cruel and unusual punishment of a Roomba?

    • 1WineDude

      thans, Relo. You know what, someone I know said the same thing about filming the construction, so I kind of blew it there I suppose. In terms of loaded, it didn't take a year – I'm already maxed on those racks and have only about 80 bottle capacity left on the older racks!

      The roomba will always bend to my nefarious will!!! :)

  • joe S

    I'm hearing Grotto Cellars went bankrupt out of business. They are no longer answering their phone or responding to people who placed orders. This is crazy!

    • 1WineDude

      Holy crap! That was sudden!

      Just checked their blog and twitter and those were updated as of end of August. But the FB page has the following on their wall:

      Jess Pillow : Note I received from my rep… "Grotto is experiencing some financial difficulties and looking for an investor to enable normal business operations"… No one picking up the phones. Can someone PLEASE contact me?!
      Tuesday at 12:08pm

      and this:

      Bob Smith – Your web site is down and nobody is answering the phones? Wahts up wit dat?
      September 2 at 6:15pm · Comment · LikeUnlike · View Feedback (1)Hide Feedback (1) · Flag

      Grotto Custom Wine Cellars Please contact Grotto Custom Service on Monday morning…949.461.2103.

      Freaky… I am going to email my contacts there and see what I can find out…

  • Gloria

    Have you been able to find out anything about Grotto? Did your contacts at the company ever get back to you?

    My name is Gloria and I know of two wine storage companies that are actually expanding. Apex and Vinotemp have been around for more than 20 years, so I figure that is something good right? Both companies sell wine cabinets, chillers, coolers and build custom wine cellars as well. They even offer free CAD designs.

    Here are the links to those companies:
    http://www.vinotemp.com http://www.apexwinecellars.com.

    • 1WineDude

      Hi Gloria – I did hear from one former employee who confirmed that Grotto basically folded and now is under new management, but I don't have any other details yet. :(

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