Every potential home buyer has his or her nonnegotiable requirements. Maybe it's central air, or a two-car garage. For Floridians Roland and Missy Boney, the top priority was a little harder to come by: space to house more than 5,500 bottles of wine. "And quite honestly," says Roland, "in north Florida, that just wasn't out there."
The Jacksonville-area couple's love affair with wine developed in tandem with their own romance, originating with a stop in Napa Valley at the end of their 1995 Hawaii honeymoon. That first visit to Napa ignited their desire to return regularly. Their friend Cyril Chappellet—of his family's eponymous Pritchard Hill winery, at that time based in Jacksonville—guided them through his favorite Napa producers and helped arrange appointments. Before they knew it, the Boneys were on the mailing lists of 75 California wineries. Over time, the bottles, stored in a neglected guest room, started piling up.
On the hunt for a new house in the area, Missy and Roland encountered a builder who had just constructed a large residence. Like many of the homes the Boneys had seen, it did not have a wine cellar—but it did have a swimming pool and a pool house. The builder had envisioned the cottage as a play-space for children, complete with a nook for bunk beds. "Here very well may be the solution to the cellar issue," Missy said at the time. The couple made the builder an offer, which he accepted. (He subsequently built himself a new house next door.)
The Boneys' primary concern was the 450-square-foot pool house's bottle capacity. They enlisted Jim Cash of Michigan-based Revel Cellars, who offered an efficient use of space. Cash insulated the structure and installed a cooling system to maintain a 55˚ F temperature. Instead of shelves to hold wooden cases, Cash provided soft-close pullout drawers, so that an entire case can be accessed without lifting. Carousels maximize storage in the room's corners. And that bunk-bed alcove? "That whole area is dedicated to 100-point wines," says Roland.
The perimeter of the space is devoted to California Cabernet and Meritage blends, which comprise about 80 percent of the collection. Two central islands hold other California wines plus choices from France, Italy, Australia and Portugal. A painting of a bottle by Thomas Arvid hangs on a wall. Arvid also designed the label for Share 67, a wine the Boneys make through the Napa Valley Reserve.
The Boneys say their collection reflects their personal admiration for the vintners of Napa. In addition to Chappellet, they count Kirk Venge, Steve Sherwin, Don Weaver of Harlan and the Novaks of Spottswoode as friends and have hosted several of them for dinner in their home.
As a couple, Roland and Missy count themselves lucky to have an overlapping passion for wine. "My wife and I teach each other," Roland chuckles. "I'm supply; she's demand. I enjoy being the supply chain, and she enjoys demanding."
What's in the Boneys' Cellar?
Oldest bottles: Fonseca Vintage Port 1960; Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac 1961
10-year Cabernet verticals: Araujo, Buccella, Chappellet, Colgin, Harlan, Lewis, Peter Michael, Pride, Quilceda Creek, Realm, Schrader, Seavey, Shafer Hillside Select, Spottswoode, Tor, Venge
Wine Spectator 100-point wines: Château Lafite Rothschild 2000; Château Haut-Brion 2005; Château Léoville Las Cases 2000; Schrader To Kalon 2007; Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 1994; Fonseca Vintage Port 1977 and 1994
2000 Bordeaux horizontal: Châteaus Angélus; Brainaire Ducru; Calon-Ségur; Cos-d'Estournel; Ducru-Beaucaillou; Giscours; Gruaud Larose; Haut-Brion; L'Evangile; La Conseillante; Lafite Rothschild; Latour; Léoville Barton; Léoville Las Cases; Lynch-Bages; Margaux; Montrose; Palmer; Pape Clément; Pavie; Pichon Lalande; Pontet-Canet; Smith-Haut-Lafitte