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Mission Impossible: Turning a Small Room into a Wine Cellar for Restaurant in Richmond with a Huge Impact

Quick Summary of Wine Cellar Project

From Forgotten Room to Fine Custom Wine Cellar in Richmond: The Buckhead's Story
From Forgotten Room to Fine Custom Wine Cellar in Richmond: The Buckhead’s Story

This wine cellar for a restaurant in Richmond will make you believe in the impossible. Buckhead, a high-end chophouse in Richmond, VA, has been a staple in the city since its opening in 1994. Over the past five years, the restaurant’s wine collection has grown tremendously, amassing an impressive 700 wine labels. The idea of constructing a dedicated wine cellar had been in the pipeline for quite some time, with Harvest Wine Cellars collaborating with the owner even before the pandemic, though the construction process had to be put on hold during that period.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Buckhead has withstood the test of time, and the owner’s vision for a wine cellar remained unwavering. The original space designated for the cellar was a tight, narrow catch-all room behind the bar area, measuring approximately 18 feet deep and 3 1/2 feet wide. Recognizing the potential of this space, the owner decided to convert it into a wine cellar, a dream he had long harbored.

Harvest Wine Cellars took on the task of transforming the space, removing the existing shelves and drywall. While the original door will be replaced with one specifically designed for wine cellars, the team has left it in place during the construction process. To accommodate the ongoing work, the owner had to temporarily store his wines in other racks around the restaurant and in the office.

Intrigued? Read on for an in-depth look at the complete details of this exciting wine cellar project.

The Small Wine Cellar with Big Surpises

Looking at the size of this space, you would think that converting this “catch-all” storage room into a wine cellar for a restaurant is impossible. But the owner of Buckhead, a high-end chophouse in Richmond, VA knew Harvest Custom Wine Cellars & Saunas’ expertise could make the impossible, possible. Despite its tight, narrow dimensions, the owner decided to move forward with his wine cellar idea with the help of Harvest Custom Wine Cellars.  

The project was challenging and it took years to finish it (no thanks to COVID deterring the initial starting timeframe). The construction process would have been shorter if not for the pandemic. The restrictions kept the team from completing the wine cellar. But once everything started getting back to normal, Harvest Wine Cellars resumed the construction, resulting in the most stunning narrow wine cellar concept. 

Crafted masterfully, Harvest Wine Cellars’ top-tier cabinetry, elegant wine racking system, an efficient cooling system, and sophisticated lighting system to keep the bottles stored gracefully. Take a look and believe in the impossible.   

The Construction Process 

To create the stunning wine cellar out of a 3 1/2 feet wide and 18 feet deep catch-all room, Harvest Wine Cellars thought it would be best to do it one at a time, given the limited space. First, the team relocated the wine bottles to temporary storage shelves around the restaurant. Some were moved inside the office.  

Next, they installed the window, initially to somehow conceal the mess. Usually, the team was working on the wine cellar during the day, before the operating hours so the customers and the construction team won’t be distracted. 

The cooling unit was installed afterward, running the wiring and tubes in proper places before setting up the wine shelves.  And then, they worked on the flooring. 

Challenges of Making this Wine Cellar for Restaurant in Richmond 

Creating a wine cellar out of a narrow working space had been a huge challenge for the Harvest Wine Cellars team. The owner’s vision for the cellar called for a double-deep installation, which meant maximizing the available space to accommodate twice the number of wine bottles. This was no easy feat, given the limited depth of just 18 feet. 

Designing an efficient and practical layout within such tight confines required meticulous planning and creative problem-solving. The team had to carefully consider the optimal shelving configuration, bottle orientation, and overall storage capacity to ensure the cellar could fulfill the owner’s need for expanded wine storage. Overcoming this spatial constraint was undoubtedly one of the primary challenges the team faced in bringing the owner’s wine cellar dream to life. 

It worked out more than fine in the end but working on this project pushed the limits on space constraints. 

Features of the Wine Cellar

Some challenges needed to be overcome, but the results are worth bragging. After years of working on this wine cellar for a restaurant in Richmond, the once obsolete storage space was brought to life with a sophisticated wine shelving system, aesthetic-enhancing lighting, and a charming interior design.  


One of Harvest Wine Cellars’ goals is to maximize the capacity of the small room.  

To date, Buckhead’s has a massive wine collection so the wine racking system should be able to accommodate them. Successfully, Harvest Wine Cellars created a wine cellar with a bottle capacity of around 1000 bottles. That includes 750 ml bottles, magnum, and spirits. To make that happen, most of the display orientation is nose-out.  

To avoid space wastage, the wine rack’s design included extra storage spaces up top, where the wines can be displayed label forward, horizontally.  

Racking System 

The wine cellar’s 107-inch-tall racking system was manufactured by Kessick, a company that specializes in solid box construction rather than kit-based racking. This approach simplifies the installation process, as the racking comes pre-assembled in cabinets that can be easily placed, rather than hanging the upper racking from the bottom up. 

Parallel Design Wine Racking 

On the focal wall on the far right of the cellar is a parallel design wine racking. This unit comes as a single, integrated piece, complete with vertically-milled lighting components on both sides. The rack is three-bottles deep with a total capacity of about 100 wine bottles in label-forward display. 

Display shelves 

In contrast, the massive individual bottle display shelves are installed individually, with the lighting routed into the top valance. When the base cabinets are installed around the parallel racking, the display rows are then placed on top and “daisy-chained” or snapped together, allowing the lighting to illuminate the entire system through a single switch. 

The wine shelves where the bottles are displayed nose-out to maximize the storage capacity, have hundreds of 4×4 individual compartments. In total, they can store more than 700 bottles of 750s, magnums, and champagnes.  

Display rows 

Providing an elegant break from the eye-ful display shelves is a series of vertical display rows in between that can store up to 32 bottles.   

Top display 

As if the wine storage shelves and racks aren’t enough, the team put in place wine cradles at the top and utilized it as another display area instead of leaving it empty. The owner has several magnums and large format bottle in his collection and this area is a perfect place to store them. 

Lighting System




Harvest Custom Wine Cellars and Saunas - Richmond