History of HRC Wine Vault

In 1962 – at the height of Cold War tensions – a consortium of banks and insurance companies constructed an underground bunker in rural CT. Trustees of the ‘Underground Record Protection Cooperative Trust Vault’ planned to store crucial financial records at this location in the event of a nuclear war.

After excavating, builders poured 18,000 cubic yards of concrete with 126 tons of steel reinforcements to create the 18 inch thick walls. With an offset dual entryway and a 12 ton, 19 inch thick steel vault door – the facility could withstand an indirect hit from a nuclear warhead. After backfilling 10 feet of earth on top and around the building, insurance records would be safe from direct artillery fire.

In addition to protecting records, the vault would protect top executives within the consortium. They added a decontamination shower to help suppress the flow of radiation into the vault. They also developed plans for designating leadership, creating an underground living space and allocating emergency rations. Some of these rations – including dried meat, chocolate bars, biscuits, vitamin pellets, and water in lead lined cans – still exist at the vault.

In 1994 – following the end of the Cold War – a disaster recovery and records management company purchased the property. After digital backups became more prevalent and paper records were no longer necessary, the vault fell into disuse.

By 2000, Jed and Amie Benedict acquired the property and put it to use. Due to the lack of commercial wine storage facilities in New England, Jed and Amie decided to transform the old records bunker into the only wine storage vault of its kind. Collectors who store wine at Horse Ridge Cellars tend to raise eyebrows when they say, ‘well… I store my wine in a Cold War era bunker!’

After a decade of success, Horse Ridge Cellars has become a leader in wine storage. After HRC filled the original 10,000 square foot structure, HRC began the construction of a second underground vault to meet the needs of HRC’s growing clientele.

As of 2013 – the new facility is fully operational. HRC has installed brand new geo-thermal heating and cooling systems and state of the art intrusion, water detection and fire suppression systems. And the new building even has a loading dock for easy delivery and shipment.

Find out more about How to Store Wine at HRC