The Wine Cellar Chronicles, Part VI: “Elbow grease, know how, and biscuits.”


Dad and I working on the new rack in my wine cellar. 

Over the past few years, my parents have given me another WSET exam for each birthday. That is, they’ve paid for it, and I’ve studied and taken it, and that has been a kind and thoughtful gift. This year, however, knowing how much more is involved in Level III, I knew I wasn’t ready to take that on, so instead I asked that they come to town during Sonja’s business trip to help me watch the kids… and to help me build another shelf in my wine cellar. I think my mom talked my dad into it, though I’m not sure about that. Regardless, the following has transpired since Tuesday night when they arrived.

On Tuesday night they got to town and at dinner with myself and the kids. Then dad and I went to Lowe’s and purchased a handful of cinder blocks and 400lbs of concrete.


We got back and unloaded it. The next day I taught high schoolers all day, and graduate students all night. When I got home, my mom and dad had poured 400lbs of concrete into four pillars to support the 16′ shelf. I hope I’m that tough when I’m their age.


Thursday, after teaching, I had a meeting for VinNEBRASKA, helping to pick a new charity for coming years. Both options were great, and perhaps more on that at a later time. In the meantime, it’s fortunate that our committee meets at The Winery, because I was able to bring home beer for mom and some of dad’s favorite gin, which he spurned in light of using power tools. When I got home, the framework of the shelf was already in place.


After putting the kids to bed, my mom, dad, and I devoted the next three hours to finishing the thing out. I spent a good stretch of time listening to REM and doing the tedious yet necessary work of attaching a good twenty or so six-inch cuts for storing more magnums. Dad was outside working on something called a “biscuit joint” that linked two eight foot boards (I got a cross look from my mom when I asked why they didn’t just buy a sixteen foot board). Mom showed me a trick for putting in guide holes rather than just “eyeing it” as I often do. We’re a good team: I do much of (certainly not all of) the brute labor, dad does the finesse stuff that requires technical prowess with his tools, and mom has the good ideas. We all three worked away for several hours. Here’s some of the progress:

This morning, I wake up to the knowledge that all that is left is for me to purchase some brackets, borrow a neighbor’s hammer drill, and lock the thing to the wall. Oh, and screw down the top shelf. I’ll try to get to all of this on Saturday, and if I mess it up, it may turn into a further blog post.  If not, the below is pretty much how she looks:


The cellar is coming along nicely, largely thanks to help from my parents. I’m currently talking to a guy about a better cooling system, and I want to start hanging doors. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be having you over for a tasting in the cellar soon!

Cheers to progress, and to Friday,


3 responses to “The Wine Cellar Chronicles, Part VI: “Elbow grease, know how, and biscuits.”

  1. As an update, I tried to mount the shelf to the wall today, but struggled with getting through the brick. I did screw the top down and, trusting in gravity, started to put wine on the rack. The cellar continues to come along nicely!


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