Cave Drill at Neibaum/Coppola

The Importance of Portals

With all due respect to our cave-dweller ancestors, caves today are a place we want to visit but not lose a connection to the outside world.

That's why the placement of portals or exits is so important in the design and construction of a wine cave.

According to Scott Lewis Scott W. Lewis, CEG, Principal Engineering Geologist Senior Tunneling Consultant with Condor Earth Technologies (quoted in Tunnel Business Magazine) "In areas of complex geology, good portal sites are hard to find. A typical wine cave is constructed with two or more portal sites, for operational and safety reasons." While many wineries design their caves to connect with the winery building for convenience and energy efficiency, at least one portal should "daylight."

Because caves can be conducive to claustrophobia, the Wall Street Journal reported that designers advise wineries to "locate entertainment areas near cave entrances" to ease guests' discomfort at being in the naturally dark and damp environment. Some wineries also install glass doors at the main entrance to the cave to let in some of the bright Napa Valley sunshine.

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