Wine Cave 101
What do bears, bats, and bottles of wine have in common? You may be surprised to learn that they are
all quite happy as cave dwellers. It’s true – wine caves have been around for nearly 7,000 years. Many
believe that the first wine caves were reported in the Roman catacombs and certain areas of Iran.
However, once people caught on to the benefits of these subterranean structures – the consistently cool
temperatures, the natural humidity – the construction of wine caves exploded throughout Europe. The
practice then migrated to the Americas, and eventually to right here in the Unites States. In fact, some
of the first wine caves in the U.S. were built in the hills of Sonoma and Napa Valley in the latter years of
the 19 th century. These underground structures aren’t just for romantic ambience or simple storage;
they actually serve quite a functional purpose.
What is the purpose of a wine cave?
When it comes to the functionality of wine caves, these structures offer a variety of advantages in the
world of winemaking. Aging wine requires cool temperatures and high humidity, because humidity
reduces evaporation, and high heat can destroy the quality of the wine. From a winemaker’s
perspective, housing hundreds of barrels of wine in a climate-controlled warehouse is an expensive
proposition. Wine caves are incredibly efficient at storing and aging wine at the desired temperature of
55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, and the natural insulation can save a winemaker thousands of dollars when
compared to the cooling and heating costs of a warehouse.
Wine caves also offer an ideal environment when it comes to humidity. A space that provides 70-90%
humidity means decreased evaporation, and that means a reduction in the loss of wine due to
unfavorable moisture levels in the air. This humidity also prevents oxidization of the wine by keeping the
corks properly moist. A dry cork can ruin a whole barrel of wine by allowing oxygen to seep through,
making a wine taste more like vinegar. Simply put, the environment in a cave can help keep a wine from
accidentally turning into very expensive salad dressing.
Another enemy of wine is light poisoning. Sunlight and bright light bulbs can turn delicious wine into
undrinkable swill at a startling rate. This is why many high-end wines come in black or dark-green glass
bottles. Storing wine underground, in a cave, reduces the potential of the wines getting too much
exposure to the damaging light that can impact its flavor.
The Only Wine Cave in Georgia
Like many of the top vineyards in America, Yonah Mountain Vineyards has taken advantage of the
benefits of wine caves – the low temperatures, low light levels, and high humidity that make wine
happy. In fact, Yonah currently houses what the only known wine caves in the state of Georgia. These
structures are an incredible feat of engineering, but, more importantly, they keep Yonah’s wines in the
perfect environment to ensure the highest level of quality.
One of the best way to get to know Yonah Mountain Vineyards is through our wine cave tour and tasting experience. We’ll take you on a 90-minute walking tour of our vineyards and wine caves, all while sampling our very own wines. These are the only known wine caves in Georgia and are an incredible feat of engineering and wine-making alike. This is a great day-trip in Georgia if you’ve ever wanted to know more about Georgia and wineries in general.
If you’d like to schedule a wine cave tour and tasting, advance reservations are required for the experience. We hold our wine cave tours on Saturdays and Sundays. Learn more about our other special events and parties on our events page! We look forward to meeting you. Reserve By calling 706-878-5522 or email [email protected]