SORRELLS CUSTOM CELLARS

Chelsea Vintners are very proud to partner with Sorrells Custom Cellars, one of the world’s leading creators of beautiful bespoke wine rooms and storage solutions. Sorrells cellars can be found in the homes of wine lovers around the globe, from Putney to Pennsylvania! We caught up with Sorrells’ owner and Managing Director, Tim Lewis, to learn more about the hard work and passion that goes into designing and building some of the world’s most beautiful wine storage spaces.

 

From Chicken Sheds to Clearwater

Tim spent the first part of his career working for large companies in sales and marketing roles. However, a thirst for knowledge, a natural sense of entrepreneurialism and a personal interest in wine meant that when the opportunity came up to combine all three, he grabbed the chance with both hands! Tim purchased Sorrells Wineracks in 2003 and then set the up Traditional Wine Rack Company shortly after. ‘It’s changed massively since then’, says Tim, ‘especially when you consider that the business started in 1947 in a chicken shed in south-west London! We are now based in Essex in a brand-new 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility and have approximately 40 employees … and that’s not including our new US office in Clearwater, Florida.’ A deep sense of pride is evident in the Sorrells team, with top-quality bespoke workmanship at the heart of their philosophy. As Tim explains, ‘we are constantly trying to push forward and to bring more elements in-house so that we can offer our clients the best complete service possible. For example, we recently moved in our new premises and immediately opened a metal fabrication area so that we can offer in-house made metal doors for our clients.’

With close to a century of combined experience in the industry (Sorrells celebrated their 75th birthday in 2022) and a wealth of history and knowledge to draw upon, Sorrells now create approximately four completely bespoke cellars around the world every week. The idea of a complete service is one of the things that has taken top priority in making the Sorrells experience special, taking clients on a unique beginning-to-end journey. ‘We take huge pride in manufacturing everything that goes into our cellars, from bespoke hand-made joinery, to double-glazed and argon-filled glass doors, to the AC system’, comments Tim. State-of-the-art technology which ensures that every single bottle remains pristine is also extremely high on the agenda for many clients – and Sorrells meet this demand by ensuring that every part of the process is under their control. ‘This means that we have complete control over the manufacture and quality of our product, as everything is made under our own roof and undergoes a thorough quality check before leaving our premises. Additionally, all our installation teams, both AC and joinery, are employees of our company, which allows us to closely monitor our product. We prioritise quality and aim to provide our customers with the best possible experience.’

Sorrells’ innovative designs are a hit with all the family

Commercial Collaborations

In fact, you may have been closer to a Sorrells cellar than you realise … their work can be seen in some of the UK’s most interesting and exciting commercial venues, including hotels, member’s clubs, and wine merchants. Some notable projects include the 10 Cases restaurant in London’s Covent Garden, Brunswick Fine Wines in Brighton, and the instantly recognisable wine wall at the Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds. ‘Working on commercial projects is always exciting for us at Sorrells, as it allows us to showcase our expertise and collaborate with like-minded individuals and businesses’, says Tim ‘we are proud of the work we have done in this sector and are always looking for new opportunities to create exceptional cellars for our clients’.

Tim remembers one or two such commercial projects particularly fondly. ‘One of our standout projects was creating an incredible 12,000-bottle cellar at an extremely prominent member’s club in London’, he recalls, ‘and we have also had the opportunity to work with renowned hotels such as the Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester, which is owned by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. It’s possible that one of them even ended up with a personal cellar built by us!’

A classic Sorrells design creates the perfect home for a treasured wine collection

Going Global

However, there is nothing that compares with helping private clients to achieve their wine storage dreams, no matter how weird or wonderful the space may be. ‘One of the most memorable builds we have done at Sorrells so far is a fantastic project in Godalming, Surrey’, Tim recalls, ‘this cellar is a double-height cylindrical, temperature-controlled fine wine cellar with a spiral staircase winding down the centre. We installed angled bottles all around the cellar so that all you can see are the bottle labels – and then to top it off we created another separate cellar in an adjacent room. This project was incredibly challenging as it was a 7m tall bespoke area, and so the complexity lay in both the design and installation. However, the outcome was stunning and made all the hard work worthwhile. It is projects like this that make us proud of what we do at Sorrells’.

Such is the quality of their work that Sorrells are seeing a huge increase in international demand, and in recent times have had the opportunity to create stunning wine cellars all over the world, from India to Hong Kong, Panama to Switzerland, and the Caribbean to Putney! No matter where you are in the world, it becomes more and more likely that you are never too far from a Sorrells build. As a response to this fantastic demand, Sorrells have recently opened a dedicated US office in Florida and have been experiencing significant growth, creating amazing cellars in various states including New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas. ‘We also have many more exciting projects in the pipeline. Sorrells are always eager to expand our horizons and take on new challenges,’ says Tim, ‘and we look forward to continuing to create exceptional wine cellars for clients all over the world’.

Combining multiple passions with an incredible garage and wine room combination

The Sorrells Style

Tim further reflects on how his clients’ requirements for their bespoke cellars has changed over time; since the days of working out of a chicken shed, he has seen his client’s preferences and designs become more exacting, and a clear demographic shift towards more and more younger clients investing in their own cellars. ‘Fine wine has increasingly become a symbol of success that is appealing to a younger audience, who are in turn becoming incredibly passionate about their own personal collections’ observes Tim, ‘for example, we are currently designing a cellar in Piedmont for a Serie A professional footballer, and his request was for a ‘classic cellar’ featuring lots of beautiful oak joinery, soft lighting, and elegant bottle displays – very much a hallmark Sorrells creation. It’s worth noting that he is only 25 years old!’.

In fact, this increase in demand from a younger audience has had a huge influence on design, with a new focus on ultra-modern spaces which heavily utilise materials such as metal and are less centred around classic materials such as solid oak or walnut. ‘That’s not to say that the traditional look is going out of fashion,’ comments Tim, ‘we still have a very strong core group of traditionalists who prefer more classic designs, and even among the younger generations we do see a demand for traditional wine cellars. Ultimately, Sorrells are always adapting to these changes and are dedicated to creating wine cellars that meet our clients’ needs and preferences, whether they are looking for a traditional or modern design. The beauty of what we do is that we are able to help clients to create the wine cellar of their dreams, no matter how that looks – and we are very excited to see what our clients have in store for us in the future!’

Tim Lewis, owner and Managing Director of Sorrells Custom Cellars

Quickfire Q & A with Tim Lewis, Owner & Managing Director of Sorrells Custom Cellars

What has been your favourite Sorrells build so far?

It has to be the Holland & Holland project at their gorgeous shooting grounds on the outskirts of London. The cellar (well, it’s really more of a large wine wall) is stunning, and the location is amazing – it’s a beautiful place, both the grounds and the building itself.

Which wines could your own cellar not be without?

I have so many different wine passions that it feels almost impossible to choose, especially when I’m constantly being introduced to new regions and styles! However, if pushed … I would always make sure that Brunello and red Burgundy were in plentiful supply.

What’s your ultimate desert island wine?

Tenuta San Leonardo 2015 … if the island was cold and damp! If we’re talking tropical conditions, then it’s a top-quality Meursault from the likes of Coche-Dury or Roulot.

What are your most memorable wine experiences?

I love holding events with our clients – particularly exploring themes such as old vs new and sharing wines that are 50 or 60 years old. I find the concept of aging wines absolutely fascinating, so it’s lucky that I’m in the cellar business! I recently did a wine tour to Sicily which was eye-opening. The wines are incredible and there was so much to learn about a unique region. However, for obvious reasons my most memorable wine experience would probably be fitting my first ever wine cellar in Balham many, many years ago.

If you would like to find out more about how Sorrells Wine Rooms can help you design and build the cellar of your dreams, please contact your dedicated Chelsea Vintners Private Client Specialist directly or email sales@chelseavintners.com.

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