The Bodega Revolution

Belonging to a series of new features that also include sunken fire pits, rooftop terraces with pools, open-plan living rooms and minimalist kitchens and bathrooms, the modern wine cellar is part of a 21st century revolution in how we build and live.

People put most of the dramatic changes in modern homes down to technology and design in the form of novel building materials, faster construction techniques and the electronics of a ‘smart home’, and there is no underestimating the importance of these factors, but there are others too. Like a host of new features that have come into the modern home and given it a gloss that would have seemed impossible just twenty years ago.

Today’s villas and even luxury apartments are built with energy-saving materials, are equipped with sensors and home automation systems that control such things as lighting, irrigation, shutters, security and audio-visual systems, as well as even kitchens and bathrooms. Pretty soon, the smart home will be as amazingly hi-tech as your smartphone, and linked to it for easy vigilance and management.

But within this scope of renewal there are some novel innovations that may be a little less tech orientated yet every bit as dramatic in the way they are overhauling our idea of a home, the breakdown of its living spaces and the functions each of these performs. In this, we find that more and more different features can be incorporated into larger open-plan living spaces, and prominent among these is the revolutionary new glass bodega – a feature of both design and functionality.

Re-inventing the wine cellar
A wine cellar used to be just that, a somewhat dank stone or brick room hidden in the vaults of a home. A manmade replication of a cave, it didn’t use refrigeration but had to be located beneath the main house to attain the ideal temperature and humidity conditions required for storing precious vintages. In this way it simulated the qualities of a real cave, and indeed, the latter have also been used to store whole vintages.

As time moved on and classical homes become more comfortable in style, the bodega, as it is also often called, became a little more accessible. It left the realms of winegrowing estates, chateaux and palaces, and came into the house, albeit luxury ones, where it found a resting place in the lower depths of the home’s structure, where the air is suitably humid and the temperature almost constant throughout the day and year.

By the late 20th century it was no longer just the place where the erstwhile butler or chef’s assistant would go to find the requested bottles of wine, but now an increasingly attractive space, not infrequently designed and decorated in the style of a winery, a traditional café or even a tapas bar. Fancy brickwork was accompanied by a bar, tables for wine tasting and even card-playing, as this was the sort of room that had become part of the modern villa’s basement area.

The bodega comes into the light
With the trend switch to sleek modern architectural styles this decade, has come a veritable revolution in the shape and function of this centuries-old space, which has seen it totally redefined from a traditional brick area located below the home to a glass-and-chrome vitrine situated right at its heart. In other words, in this century the bodega has come out of the dark and into the light.

Many a homeowner might still want to position it within the lower basement level, where it can function alongside entertainment rooms, home cinemas and even private spas, but for the first time the home bodega can also come into the main living spaces of the home. Besides its actual purpose, to store fine quality wines of all kinds, this glass and chrome vitrine can also function as a division between different rooms or parts thereof.

It’s up to you where you place it, but an open section of corridor near the kitchen and dining room is a possibility, as is the laundry, though today’s glass wine cabinets are so attractive that you would want them to take pride of place and steal the show in the kitchen, the dining room or even in-between the latter and the living room. A den would also look great with an eye-catching feature like this in it, and who says you can’t have more than one?

Form and function
If the look and location of the wine cellar have changed, the function hasn’t, and as many of these beautifully styled glass cabinets are located at the point where the kitchen and dining room meet, the wine tasting can now be enjoyed at the kitchen bar, the dining room table or even on the terrace outside. Today, the modern wine cellar has also become a true design feature in its own right, for a glass-and-chrome bodega is attractive by day and a visual delight when lit up with LED.

Coming in a wide range of sizes and configurations, and automated settings that can be integrated into your home’s domotic system, what is effectively a gently refrigerated cooling cabinet can be a practical and aesthetic addition to anything from a studio apartment to a large mansion, and they range from standardised designs to anything you want them to be. Modern technology ensures the sky is the limit, so be creative.

First published in Essential Magazine
Photography courtesy of Stact Wine Racks

Manifesto Design / January 8, 2020
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