Douglas DelGrosso had been collecting wine for more than 25 years when he moved to his home on Sylvan Lake in Keego Harbor six years ago. One of his first thoughts was: Where do I store my wine? “I used to have 1,000 bottles but have narrowed it down to about 300,” he says. “I needed a space or would need to buy a refrigeration unit that could hold that much.”
Although the home has an adequate basement, when his clever interior designer, Tami Kessler of Tamara Kessler and Associates Inc. in Grosse Pointe Woods, was reviewing the home’s layout, she suggested using a loft area where the former owner once kept his model train collection. Situated off the stairs to the second floor, the space is about 30 feet by 10 feet. “We couldn’t figure out what to do with it, and then Tami said, ‘Why don’t we transform this into your wine room?’”
They had glass doors installed, created a seating area for tastings, and, of course, added refrigeration, which is “mainly for reds,” DelGrosso, the president and CEO of automotive seating maker Adient, notes. They also updated the cabinetry and countertops and used unique materials and colors that flowed with the rest of the home’s contemporary vibe. To the left as you enter is the wine storage area, and to the right is the sitting area. “The open-rack system is brilliant,” DelGrosso says. “It all came out so cool.”
Today, when the oenophile enjoys the space with his wife, Paula, and their guests, they can look through the huge glass doors to keep an eye on their beloved labradoodle/golden retriever mix, Cardi.
Growing up in an Italian family, DelGrosso says his father always had an “inexpensive red at the dinner table,” but when DelGrosso reached his late 20s, a friend in Toronto introduced him to a whole new world of wine. “I’d never tasted good wine until he exposed me to a better class of wine. I became intrigued with it. Then I’m reading about it, going to Napa Valley, and Oregon. It became a hobby. Once you start tasting the nicer wines, the others aren’t nearly as satisfying.”
Here, a few minutes before uncorking a rich, fruity-spicy Cabernet, DelGrosso spills details about his special space. Kessler, meanwhile, offers a few tips about the design of the wine tasting retreat.(Incidentally, we caught up with Kessler while she was vacationing in Michigan’s Leelanau County — a wine lover’s paradise.)
A Closer Look at Douglas DelGrosso’s Wine Tasting Retreat
“I have a lot of 1995s and 1998s, which were good years for wine,” DelGrosso says of bottles he bought to mark the years his two children were born. After calling it a day, he can often be found sipping an “everyday wine, which falls in the $20 to $30 range — unless it’s a special occasion.” He’s a fan of red Bordeauxs, but California Cabernets are his go-tos. “I’ll also drink Michigan Pinot Gris varieties. Michigan does well with the dry white wines.”
The ceiling is made of stained cedar, which holds up well to various temperatures and is a good wood for various climates. “And I like the beautiful warm look of cedar,” Kessler adds.
The art part
An oil painting of a porch looking out to a vineyard (titled View of Far Niente Winery, by Leon Roulette) is a main wall attraction. “It’s a perfect fit for this room,” DelGrosso says.
Le Corbusier leather and chrome chairs are both comfy and contemporary. They’re complemented with glass side tables from Baker Furniture.
All in full view
“When you’re in the sitting area, you kind of have a bird’s-eye view of the home,” Kessler notes. “It’s not buried in a cellar or out of reach. It’s private, but you can still feel a part of the home. Also, the large glass wall and door make you feel as though there’s no barrier between the sitting area and the temperature-controlled wine room.”
The wine rack system is by VintageView. “They’re standard racks, but then we had to adjust them and customize them because they needed to fit properly,” DelGrosso says. “An open-rack system is different than a conventional racking system where the bottle is encased. An open rack suspends the bottle from the wall with hooks.”
Kessler chose a horizontal dark gray slate for the walls. A band of blue and a band of green highlight one wall. “Douglas loves color, so these colors that he chose provide some excitement.” The bands are made of little glass mosaic tiles by Bisazza in Italy, with gel grout to match.