If you’ve always dreamed of having your own private wine cellar, you may want to take a few pointers from a local couple with two. Though the magnificent Northville residence of Millie Cummings and her husband, Bob, is currently on the market, they’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past 23 years there surrounded by family and friends and, of course, plenty of wine.
While the more than 13,000-square-foot home boasts a number of unique features, the primary wine cellar on the lower level that can hold up to 11,000 bottles is a coveted spot. The amazing space was designed by Millie, along with the rest of the house.
For added convenience, a second wine cellar in the dining room can accommodate as many as 750 bottles. “It’s a nice conversation piece. If you’re in the middle of a nice dinner, you can go in there and grab another bottle,” she says.
As Millie explains, the popularity of wines and wine cellars has increased in recent years. “It’s the new collectible,” she says.
She and her husband became wine enthusiasts over time. “We learned it together when we started going to Napa Valley to tastings. Our trips have always been a highlight of the year. Wine people are so happy to talk about it and discuss it,” says Millie who refers to the region as a playground for adults.
Their collection blossomed along the way. “It’s kind of like a child that you watch develop,” she says. “It’s really been an interesting hobby for both of us.”
She credits her husband with being able to remember a number of details about the wines. “It’s truly a love for him,” she says.
For many years, Millie says he was considered the largest collector of certain vineyards in the world.
This month, a number of highly sought-after bottles from their collection will be auctioned through Sotheby’s.
All along, their wine and their environment were meant to be shared. “We built the home for family and entertaining,” says Millie of the stately five-acre property that has been the perfect place for many family, charity and business functions through the years.
One of the highlights has always been the lower level wine cellar. An engraved door leads to the intriguing destination where a tasting table and chairs grace the temperature-controlled setting kept at 56 degrees.
“Just about every party that we’ve had ends up in the wine cellar. People like to try different wines,” says Millie. “It gets a little chilly in there. That’s why we have to drink more wine.”
There’s also an elevator for those who’ve spent too much time in the wine cellar, she quips.
Wine racks made from redwood can handle the moisture in the traditional-style space where the humidity stays around 70 percent.
Slate flooring keeps the room cool and moist. “There’s a lot that goes into a cellar in order for it to work properly,” she says. “It’s really quite a labor of love to get it right.”
A movable ladder provides easy access to the wine bottles. The handmade tile backsplash behind the wet bar adds a distinctive detail, while a stemware rack beneath the cabinets makes it easy to grab another glass for each tasting.
Millie, who jokes about the fact that they always bought big wine glasses, saves the corks for a friend who uses them for decoration.
Circular racks showcase certain wines and the endcaps give specific bottles pride of place. “You always have special wines that you want to highlight,” she says.
“The wine cellar has been a labor of love and a great sharing of friendship,” says Millie, who enjoyed making a favorite recipe, even when hosting a catered party. “I always like to put my own personal touch on it.”
She also made sure their guests had some good cheese and a nice fruit to pair with the wine.
Though the time has come to say goodbye to their lovely home, the couple will always treasure the memories of family and friends and food and wine. “It’s too much house for us now, so it’s time to downsize,” says Millie. “This has been a great house and a beautiful, happy, wonderful home. It’s ready for a new family.”
For information, call (586) 533-4656 or go to ultimatemichiganmansion.com.
Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.