Tips for Cleaning and Organizing Your Cellar

Welcome to Week 3 of our Drink Your Wine campaign. We hope you are enjoying these fun ideas for ways to drink your wine and create new memories.

Tips for Cleaning and Organizing Your Cellar

Cellar Before

Now that we’ve made new memories with “Date Night”, it’s time to switch gears a little and get serious about organizing and cleaning that collection. We bet you’ve got a few gems down there just waiting to be opened.

If your cellar is anything like mine, it ends up being a storage trap and those older bottles that have been carefully boxed and labeled get buried behind newly purchased wines and empty shipping containers. If you use a wine fridge for storage, your older bottles likely stay at the back and your new purchases sit at the front for easy access; leaving those other bottles “out of sight, out of mind” and slowing reaching their “Drink By” date. No matter where or how you store your wine, invite some friends over and let’s make this a Cellar Cleaning Party!


Basement and Cellar Storage:

  • Stock up on empty case boxes
  • Grab some blank paper and a sharpie marker
  • Make some space by cleaning out any empty shipping containers or other items that don’t belong in a wine cellar

Wine Fridge Storage:

  • Make some space in the room where your fridge is stored. We’re going to be pulling out every single bottle!

Tracking Method:

  • Choose a method for tracking your collection. There are a variety of apps out there that can make tracking easy and fun.
    • Cellar Tracker
    • Wine Tracker
    • Wine Secretary
    • My Cellar
    • A basic Excel Spreadsheet
Cellar Progess

This can be the fun part! Whether you’re using a cellar or fridge, it’s time to pull out ALL the wines and assess your stock. You’ll be amazed at what you find. Hand each of your friends a damp rag or dust cloth and get to wiping off the bottles. Choose how you want your wines to be organized.

Ways to Organize your Cellar:

  • Varietal
  • Winemaker
  • Region/Appellation
  • Price Point
Oldest BottlesMy cellar is sorted by varietal. Start by separating the red wines from the white wines. If you have a wider range of tastes, you can even go so far as to sort by dessert wines, rose or blush wines and sparkling wines and Champagne. If you happen to find a bottle (or six) that you completely forgot about, set those aside to open and share in the very near future! You could use them at your next Blind Tasting Party or keep them special on your next Date Night.

This can be the daunting part, especially if you have a LOT of one variety, winemaker or region. I myself tend to have a BIG variety of Zinfandel from Amador County. This is where it helps to start small. If you’re sorting by variety, start with the smallest lot. In my case, that would likely be all of the white wines. This way, I can get in a groove and feel a certain level of accomplishment before moving on to the next biggest collection.

While you’re entering in the data in your wine app or spreadsheet for the small lot wines, have your friends start sifting through the larger lots and separating those further; sorting the varieties now by winemaker or region, however you decide to further sub-categorize.

To keep it simple and make the process move a little quicker, start by just entering in the basics like the quantity, vintage, winery or winemaker and varietal.

Then, when you have some time to kill, you can go back in and enter in other details like price, purchase date, drink by date, appellation, etc. Some wine apps also allow you take a snapshot of the wine. I recommend taking a picture of both the front and back label, and closure type.

When you’ve finished entering in your first small quantity wines, I recommend putting them away before moving on to the next largest quantity.

Basement/Cellar Storage

  • Using the empty case boxes for those wines you have just one or two of, start placing them in the box and write down the Quantity, Vintage, Winery and Variety on the blank paper.
  • You can further identify the box with a number, letter or description. Entering this in your wine app or spreadsheet can help you find those wines in that particular box much easier than if they were stashed under bottles upon bottles in the wine racks.
Cubby Storage

Wine Fridge & Single Bottle Racks

  • Choose a method that works for you when putting the wines away in the single bottle racks. When I had single bottle racks, I would place my older, delicate white wine at the top and work left to right by vintage and variety. This means my newest and boldest red wine was usually at the bottom of the rack to the far right.
  • Identify where your wines are by making notes in your wine tracking app or spreadsheet to help reference where the wine is located (i.e. Rack 1, Column 2, and Row 4)

Diamond Shaped Racks

  • These are great for storing large quantities of the same wine. They make for easy access to your everyday drinkers and it’s easy to see when you start running low.
  • When you do get low on a particular favorite, you can either get more if it’s available, or move those last one or two bottles to the case boxes.
Cellar After

Congratulations! You’ve just organized your wine collection for easy access and sharing. Remember those few old bottles you pulled out at the beginning? Share one with your friends, take one to a blind tasting party and open one up on this week’s date night. Making space in your cellar, basement or wine fridge is the best way to find your old favorites and make space for the new favorites yet to come.