Make Over: Dinner Down in the Cellar

Lee Morris loves wine so much, he designed a 3,000-bottle cellar. So why not invite friends over to drink in the atmosphere?

By: Mary Clare Glover

When Lee and Diane Morris decided to downsize three years ago, they had one requirement. “I wasn’t moving anywhere I couldn’t take my wine with me,” says Lee, who heads the Morris Group, a machine-tool distributing company, and who has collected wine for 34 years.

The condo they bought in Georgetown—in a 115-year-old building 1½ blocks from their former home—had an alcove at the foot of the basement stairs that, says Lee, “captured the imagination.”

A carpenter spent a year and a half crafting the wine cellar Lee designed: a square space with cedar and mahogany shelving surrounding a rustic dining table.

The 3,000 bottles—mostly reds—are organized by region. “He knows exactly where every single bottle is,” says Diane. Humidity and temperature controls keep the cellar a steady 57 degrees.

The couple frequently invites friends over for dinner in the cellar. Diane plans the menu; Lee chooses the wines. Before they set the table, Lee turns off the cooling system and props open the door so it’s not too chilly.

Even when they go out to a nearby restaurant, they have friends come over for a glass of wine before or after dinner.

“Wine is part of our life,” says Diane. “It’s a passion.”