Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What’s the difference between a winery and a cellar? Correct me if I am wrong, but a winery must produce the grapes, right?

—Wayne G., Silverlake, Wash.

Dear Wayne,

There’s no distinction in U.S. wine law between “Winery,” “Cellar,” and any similar terms that might appear on a label. As far as wine brands go, I can call my label “Dr. Vinny Winery,” “Dr. Vinny Cellars” or “Dr. Vinny Vineyards,” and the wine police aren’t going to arrest me if I don't own a winery, a cellar or a vineyard, and instead purchase grapes and make and age my wine at a rented facility.

Technically speaking, a wine cellar is a place where wine is stored long-term (as opposed to a wine cooler, which is designed to keep wine at a consistent, cool temperature so that it’s ready to be served). You’re right that “winery” refers to a place where wine is made. Sometimes the terms are used a little interchangeably—if you think about it, making wine requires moments when you need to cellar it, say, if you're aging it in oak barrels before bottling.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.