Cave construction is not easy. First, the crew carefully excavates the tunnel without having it collapse around them during construction. This requires an ability to read the ground, and temporary support.

A roadheader bores into the earth.

The roadheader, a machine used to bore through the earth in wine cave construction, looks like something out of a sci-fi flick. It can grind away at a rate of two to fifteen feet per day. The excavated material is then removed from the tunnel by a loader or a load-haul-dump mining machine.

A cave liner secures the space after excavation.

After each day’s excavation, the tunnel is sprayed with shotcrete flash coating, a concrete mixture adding support. A composite of shotcrete and reinforcing steel, often welded wire fabric. Once excavation is complete, utilities are installed and a final coating of shotcrete is applied. When the cave liner is completely in place, floor drainage and utility tie-ins are completed. Finally, the concrete floor slab and door structures are installed allowing for a secure, functioning facility. It is also important to note, our ACI Nozzlemen are shotcrete experts are knowledgeable and versatile in their approach to creating owner-desired aesthetic and function.

A cave typically has two types of drainage. One is ground water, which usually requires no treatment, while the other is process waste, which is collected separately and requires treatment. If the cave has restrooms, drainage into a separate septic system becomes a third category.

A wine cave requires specific safety measures.

The evolution of wine caves from solely wine storage to hospitality centers has raised concerns about life safety. When groups of people are in spaces with limited exits and ignition sources such as candles and cooking equipment are present. The California State Fire Marshall’s office worked with the wine industry to develop minimum fire protection and safety standards for wine caves. Many California wineries choose to install fire life safety protection systems to allow for flexibility of cave functions