How did you come up with the idea of building wine cellars?
Over 30 years ago I started with building high-quality custom homes and always shared a deep passion for creating historic vaults in the form of wine cellars. I never thought there was a market for wine cellars and that I could make a living out of it…
…but it worked out, right?
Well, my clients, who were always lovers of fine wine, encouraged us to press forward with the business idea and we have now evolved into a company that is capable of building wine cellars of any dimension in any country of the world.
But your main market is still in Europe?
Europe is a big part of it, but also the United States and Asia play a role. We aren’t limited or focused on one region in particular; after all, passionate collectors of fine wine are all over the world.
So who exactly are your clients?
The majority of our projects are for residential clients who want to store their personal treasures. But you can also find our tailor-made wine cellars in world-leading wineries, hotels and restaurants, like Castello di Amorosa and Kathryn Hall Winery in California’s Napa Valley, Port Palace in Monte Carlo and the Palais Coburg in Vienna.
Any names of famous collectors?
We respectfully honour our clients’ confidentiality. However, one notable exception is Mr. William Koch in Palm Beach, Florida, whose project was widely published in the media. His wine cellar holds about 25,000 bottles.
Was this one of your larger projects?
Yes, this cellar was a very special piece of art on 1,800 square feet. Most customers usually have an available space of 300-500 square feet that can easily be divided into two different climatic areas and can be used as a wine storage and tasting room.
What’s the idea behind using historic materials?
I’ve always been fascinated by historic architecture, especially European craftsmanship and I wanted to preserve and honour these old construction techniques by building my vaulted cellars using similar methods. But there’s no way of doing so with new materials. For example, many of our projects use old bricks from the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy that are reclaimed from torn-down Viennese buildings.
So your clients also buy a piece of history when you design and build their cellar.
Yes, the history comes as part and parcel. But for me, what’s vital is providing a space to store and enjoy wine. Many people have wonderful collections but do not have a dedicated room for these treasures. A wine cellar is not only functional, but it carries the owner’s deep-rooted passion. It is a matter of appreciation and affinity for the wine. Many connoisseurs put as much value on the atmosphere of where they drink, as they do with the collections themselves. Your favorite bottle of wine is totally focused on when you taste it in a cosy tasting room that’s solely designed for this purpose.
What prompted you to embark on your more modern wine cellar designs?
Generations and tastes change and our more modern designs evolved when my children joined the company. Over the years we have been experimenting with different materials, the combination of bricks, lime stone or coral stone with wrought iron products. Now we’ve developed a hyper-modern wine cellar, internally called the “Space Shuttle”.
So it seems as though you’ve realized your dream. Is there still anything out there that you want to achieve?
Yes - to fill part of my private cellars with our own wine.
So you want to become a winemaker?
No, I am too old for that and will stay focused on what I have done my whole life. But my daughter, Barbara Gruber works on a winery project in Greece and I am looking forward to collecting, tasting and enjoying the vintages of “Lacules Estate” over the next few years.
Phone worldwide: +43 (0) 2634 7465
Phone from USA: 011 43 2634 7465