Luxe cellars up property appeal

DRAMATIC avant garde designs, subterranean mood-lit spaces, luxurious tasting areas: Wine cellars have long way from the creaking descent to a basement wine rack. And, as the market for wine collecting continues to expand, properties that boast stunning examples are in pole position, say London agents.

“I think with top tier properties it’s becoming more expected,” says Martin Bikhit, managing director at Key & Co, a West End property specialist. “For the right market it can also be a real selling point.”

“For properties aimed at international clientele, particularly from continental Europe – who are very keen on wine – it can make quite a difference to a sale,” adds Robert Sturges, director at Chesterton Humberts in Fulham.

Demand is certainly being felt at West Sussex based luxury cellar company Spiral Cellars Ltd. The company, which makes state of the art cellars for London and countryside properties, has seen profits leap four times in the past six years to £4 m annual turnover.

“Cellars have become one of the vital aspects on the tick list for luxury properties,” says Lucy Hargreaves, director at the company. “Lots of our clients come back to us after moving saying: ‘It’s the cellar that sold it.’”

Hargreaves said average investment clients are making in premium cellars has also increased.

“Three years ago clients would spend £15,000 on a great cellar. Now, the average they’re willing to spend has gone up to £20,000. We’ve also sold 11 of our premium cellars at £45,000 since autumn, which have specialist glass roofs.”

Hargreaves said that wine cellars were now being incorporated at the planning stages of new premium buildings. “We’re being bought in at development stage. Lots of new build luxury properties are being designed with wine cellars incorporated.”

Candy & Candy’s swankiest new Knightsbridge addition One Hyde Park has definitely taken the wine collector into consideration. Each of the lavish development’s apartments has its own assigned personal wine cellar, housed in a temperature-controlled room in the lower ground floor of the building. “It’s one of the aspirational services provided in the development,” says Martin Kemp, creative director at the company.

“Many owners of luxury homes are actually wine collectors and connoisseurs who have high value collections of vintage wines and champagnes which they like to display and look after. One bottle of vintage wine could be worth over £100,000 so it’s an investment that they want to protect.”

The cellar trend seems to reflect the growing market for wine collecting. “Cellars used to be just for the fine wine connoisseurs, but now people are drinking more at home. More people with money are starting to collect wine. Wine cellars have become a lifestyle feature for homes,” says Hargreaves.

With that many are using dramatic cellars as interior design statements. “Rather than being dark cave-like spaces in the basement, wine cellars are now being treated as an opportunity to create a spectacular space within the home and become a real feature of the property,” says Kemp. “Wine cellars have also become social hubs within properties – they can be walk in rooms with tables where the owners spend time sampling wines and playing canasta with friends – effectively they become a private den in which to socialise.”

Do they add value to a property? “It depends on the size of property,” says Bikhit. “If you have limited square footage it can be detrimental. Living space is the priority. They’re great if you have lots of room though.”

Bikhit said the value cellars add is more to the overall package appeal than a tangible increase. “They’re an additional selling point which can make the overall prospect of a house more attractive,” he said.